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Ethics


A Rewarding Career with Challenges


Inside MSBA's Lawyer Assistance Program


Lisa Caplan C


ommon reasons for lawyers wanting to practice law include a desire to help others, the excitement, and passion for the law. Lawyers exhibit many positive


characteristics, such as being very driven, motivated and striving for perfection. Unfortunately, these positive characteristics also contribute to making the profession so challenging. According to studies, lawyers are twice as likely to experience depression as people in other professions. Mental health issues begin in law school, with rates as high as 32% in the first year and 40% by the third year. What causes lawyers to experience these challenges and what can be done about it? Lawyers have many occupational pressures. Many lawyers


that we see at the Maryland State Bar Associations in the Lawyer Assistance Program are trial lawyers in private or small firm practices. Recently a lawyer used the Lawyer Assistance program because he felt overwhelmed and unable to cope with his practice. He expressed that he had many demands which pulled him in different directions, not leaving enough time for him to complete anything to his satisfaction. He expressed a concern for how to cope with his needy and difficult clients who drained him of his energy, and how to properly manage his practice and still have enough time for his family. He felt as if he was letting everyone down. He shared that he couldn’t concentrate, wasn’t sleeping well, starting to pull away from people, and overall not feeling well. He was very frustrated because, until recently, he was able to function well and felt successful as a lawyer. Similarly, another lawyer who was a single parent had


just started her private practice focusing mostly on domestic law. Her practice was going well, but she found her clients were very needy and demanded a lot of her time. She was feeling very overwhelmed and finding it hard to get her work


Trial Reporter / Winter 2012 47


done while still having enough time for her child. She was also feeling isolated from other lawyers. She wasn’t sleeping well, exercising like she used to, and had difficulty focusing. Te Lawyer Assistance program is a free, confidential


program that helps lawyers, judges, law school students, and their families everyday cope with these and other challenges. Each lawyer’s concerns are unique and we work with each person to develop a plan to help them. Tat plan may include short term counseling, referral to additional resources or both.


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