An American Bar Association study found that attorney suicide rates are two to six times higher than those of the general population. During an economic downturn, lawyer depression rates increase significantly, according to a study recently published in Law.com.
Following the recent deaths of four well-known large law partners, the focus increases on resources and assistance for attorneys in distress. The ABA offers the following resources on their web site:
What Lawyers Need to Know About Suicide During a Recession - Free Download
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), National, Toll-Free, 24 Hours
State and Local Lawyer Assistance Programs
National Helpline for Lawyers1-866-LAW-LAPS
Economic Recovery Resources
National Helpline for Judges Helping Judges 1-800-219-6474
But even with available help, some fear a stigma in reaching out. American Lawyer blogger and former large law partner Steven Harper isn't afraid to ask the question:
Does the interaction between the dominant large firm business model and the economic downturn provide a partial explanation? ....firms adhering religiously to an MBA-mentality of misguided metrics--billings, billable hours, and associate-partner leverage--as fundamental criteria for lawyer evaluation, have become less collegial and more unforgiving. Even in good times, justifying your own economic existence anew during every review cycle can be unsettling or worse. For some, the feared loss of income or status can be powerfully unpleasant.
With these pressures increasing and unlikely to change, Harper noted in this article and during his speech to Northwestern University's graduating class of 2010, "Seeking help when you need it is never a sign of weakness, it's proof of strength."
Am Law Daily
Wall Street Journal.com