Depression and the Legal Profession


Robert Ambrogi writes about the issue of depression in the legal profession. Does practicing law cause more people to be depressed than other professions or are individuals who choose to practice law more susceptible to depression?

I don’t personally have the answer but I can offer these thoughts: lawyers spend their days thinking about what can go wrong (in a corporate transaction, in a courtroom, etc.) If you devote a lot of mental energy to thinking about negative things (what if the buyer goes bankrupt before the closing? what if there is toxic waste on the property? what if the opposing counsel cross examines the witness about his romantic relationship with the defendant? what if, what if, what if….) This kind of thinking is critical to the competent practice of law. But it needs to be offset with some big picture thinking (how will this deal advance the client’s business interests? how will a plaintiff’s verdict enable the individual to get back on his feet in the work force?)

Lawyers are sometimes accused by business people of being deal killers. Maybe killing too many deals leads to depression because you have failed to see the potential upsides for the client.

So do some depression prevention. Start thinking positively about your client’s career, life or business objectives. You may still end up warning your client about risks that should be avoided. But if you temper that with reality (is the risk actually remote?), then you may find your own day brightening a little and in the end, you’ll have happier clients.

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