Stress, Anxiety, and Substance Abuse as a Cause of Impairment in Lawyers

“One of every four lawyers suffers from stress, and out of 105 occupations, lawyers rank first in depression. In addition, a disproportionate number of lawyers commit suicide. These are some of the troubling conclusions that can be found in various studies of addiction and depression.” Reports Robert Stein, ABA Executive Director, in the June 2005 issue of the ABA Journal.

The costs of stress, alcoholism, and drug abuse is very high for the legal profession. The American Bar Association and all state bar associations have provided “lawyer assistance programs” that can help to treat “impaired” lawyers. Most of these programs also address the issues of clinical depression and disorders related to gambling, sex, and eating.

If you do not realize the significance of this troubling situation, consider being represented in your important legal matters by an impaired attorney. It could cost you thousands of dollars or even your freedom if you or your interests are not protected by competent legal professionals. In the state of California, there is a requirement for Continuing Legal Education (CLE’s) which includes a minimum of 1 hour every 3 years on stress management or substance abuse for all licensed, practicing lawyers to maintain their license to practice law.

The practice of law is inherently stressful. Much of the time lawyers find themselves battling with other legal professionals for their clients best interests. Trail lawyers must think quickly and communicate with precision and skill in the courtroom. Corporate lawyers must be concerned with legal details that require focused attention and great care. The competition to be successful as an attorney can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

People preparing to become attorneys often struggle with stress in law school and in the multi-day testing that is required to “pass the bar.” The stressful issues that can begin in law school can set up future practicing attorneys for bad habits in coping with the stress and anxiety of the profession. Some law schools offer coursework for life skill management to better prepare their students to be able to perform at the highest level for their clients and for their quality of life.

Because lawyers are trained to be precise and use their cerebral abilities for day to day work, they are often in denial regarding the needs for stress and anxiety management until bad habits are established or symptoms cause significant challenges. Even managing general partners in major law firms have great professional and personal concerns regarding “impairment” within their organizations. An accidental mistake or oversight can open a law firm to their own costly law suits for malpractice. Many concerned managing partners are requiring that their attorneys practice preventive measures to control stress, anxiety, and depression. This can be found in group trainings, EAP’s or individual coaching. Coaching can also offer enhancements to time management, improved communication skills, and long term career planning. An interesting and unexpected benefit to this training and coaching is that this preventive work can actually save lawyers time and energy by helping to minimize the impact of distractions due to stress. This improves performance and can help to increase profitability. Key personnel are important assests and professional coaching or mentoring programs have huge cost benefits.

Everyone, even lawyers, require professional assistance to get through the difficult periods. Lawyers just seem to require more attention as they work to survive, at the highest functioning levels, in the “meat grinder” of their professional life. Most people who know practicing attorneys know that their attorney family members or friends can benefit from a sense of humor and better stress management. In increasing frequency, law firms are using retreats to help de-compress and then get down to business planning.

More information can be found in the article by Robert Stein at
http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/colap/ABAJournal200506_Help.html

Is a Lawyer Required for Every Workers Comp Claim?

The overall purpose of the workers compensation laws in Pennsylvania is to provide a means to ensure workers are fairly compensated for the expenses associated with workplace injury, without identifying blame for an accident. As such, many workers can obtain immediate medical attention after an injury at work as soon as the employer is notified of the accident. It is common for a worker who requires basic medical attention for relatively minor injuries to receive full care without ever completing a claim form or paying a bill.

Unfortunately, not all workplace injuries are straightforward. Many involve serious injuries that require extensive time away from work. When injuries are significant to severe-or in cases where claims are not considered valid-injury victims need the help of a Pennsylvania workers comp lawyer.

When a lawyer may be needed

The following are just a few examples of cases when an injured worker may need experienced legal assistance to help with a claim:

Denied claims. Your employer or the insurance company may deny your claim if they believe it to be invalid. In fact, state law does define claims to be invalid under certain situations-such as if they believe your injury was intentionally self-inflicted, or you were engaged in illegal activities (use of illegal drugs is a common allegation). Although the burden of proof is on the parties making these allegations, you need an experienced workers comp attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

Reduced claims. While the fact of your accident may not be denied, your employer or the insurance company may only approve a portion of the expenses cited in your claim. Skilled workers comp lawyers can help you collect the evidence required to prove the full value of your claim and either negotiate a fair settlement or appeal the decision.

Occupational injuries and illnesses. Not all workplace injuries are the result of a specific accident. Many employees-from office workers with repetitive stress injuries to laboratory workers exposed to toxic chemicals-develop their conditions over time. State workers comp law provides a complex set of schedules that identify covered conditions. You typically need a skilled attorney to navigate the rules and develop a case that proves your claims to be valid under the law.

The bottom line is that anyone experiencing problems with a claim or uncertain of how to proceed should seek advice from an attorney specifically experienced in Pennsylvania state law. In many cases, an initial consultation is free, after which many attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. You pay no legal fees unless you receive compensation for your case.

Starting a Profession As A Lawyer

Many people dream of becoming a lawyer in their lives but for different reasons could not make it. They might be unaware of the facts that becoming lawyer requires several difficult and challenging steps. If you are serious about practicing law, following are given few guidelines for becoming a lawyer.

If you really want to become a lawyer, start doing this from your high school. Taking part in mock trail teams and debates can help you learn few things.

Another important which you need to do is develop exemplary study habits such as reading, communication and comprehension skills.

You need to have great LSAT and GPA scores if you want to take admission in any reputable law school. The high scores can only be achieved through hard work.

You need to enroll yourself in an undergraduate college for 4 years degree program.

After completion of the degree, register yourself for Law Admission Test commonly known as LSAT. This test mainly focuses on to assess the applicant’s verbal reasoning and reading skills often used by schools.

LSAT is held three times a year, i.e. in the month of June, October and December. It is mandatory to pass the LSAT for a number of law schools.

Once you have cleared your LSAT, you are now ready to apply in a number of schools. Make one thing certain here that the law schools where you are applying should be accredited by American Bar Association (ABA). Application fees are usually high for law schools, so a careful and wise selection of the schools is required where they have an application waiver.

If you are one of those who meet their expenses on their own then it is the time to save some extra bucks for you for your school will not allow you to work for the first year.

Studying law involves a lot of hard work. You will not get enough time to waste. To complete your law successfully, you need to spend a lot of time in researching case laws, reading cases, writing briefs and preparing answers for class questions.

After the completion of first year, you should try to get a place in a law firm as an assistant, file clerk or messenger.

After graduating from law school one has to pass the Professional Responsibility Exam and later has to register him/her for state Bar Exam. This exam you can take in summer after completing your school.

This is the last step where you have to find a position as a lawyer. It is not easy as a lot of intense competition. Having any prior internship experience at a law will firm will definitely help.

Those who are good students and attend best law schools have got more job opportunities than others. Obviously, the competition is usually intense for best jobs and high grades.