Matthew's Foray into Blogging

Monday, July 25, 2005

Are Lawyers Alcoholics, or Does the Legal Profession Induce Alcoholism?

When I was in undergrad, an individual who was among my circle of friends was accepted to attend law school. This individual was incredibly studious. Not only did he consistently make the dean’s list, but also he was the president of more student organizations than could be counted on two hands. I suppose you could also describe this individual as a teetotaler. He absolutely abstained from consuming alcoholic drink. There was a joke amongst the aforementioned circle of friends that, upon beginning law school, this friend would end his forbearance from alcohol consumption, because the perception was (again, part of the joke) that law students were heavy imbibers (even more so than were typical college students).

Apparently, alcoholism does afflict persons in the legal profession with some frequency. One of every five lawyers suffers from drug or alcohol addiction, according to a Professional Responsibility professor; I do not know her source. There is a Texas Lawyers Assistance Program, which exists to assist lawyers who need help in fighting addictions. Substance abuse by lawyers does present professional responsibility issues, and it is relevant to one’s admission to the bar and maintaining good standing. When I was in law school, I was not aware of heavy alcohol consumption by students. Of course, I socialized with other students outside of school only to a very limited extent. I did find it curious that at the few school sanctioned, student organization sponsored events that I did attend, there was always keg beer available.

Are lawyers more inclined to become alcoholics? Does the stress of the work induce drinking and drug use? Are people who are predisposed to enter the legal profession also predisposed to abuse drugs and alcohol? Do lawyers even suffer from an increased incidence of drug and alcohol addiction?

Perhaps the incidence of substance abuse is not more prevalent in the legal profession than it is in the rest of the population. Rather, it is because members of the bar occupy a special position of trust in society, it is the effect of these behaviors on the individual’s clients, law practice, law firm, partners, and the court, that make alcohol and drug addiction among lawyers of particular concern.

2 Comments:

  • As I only know one lawyer personally, I don't know how qualified I am to comment on the subject. However, that's really never stopped me from opening my mouth before.

    I don't think one's profession has a profound effect on his or her propensity to drink to excess. A lawyer may find it easier to justify his or her drinking with the amount of stress encountered, like anyone with a relatively stressful occupation.

    All this talk about drinking is making me thirsty. I think I'll fix a tall glass of whiskey and get back to photoshopping myself into other people's family photos.

    By Anonymous Your Dead Copilot, at 10:38 AM, July 25, 2005  

  • i'm not a drinker really; i probably drink a glass of wine once every six months. so you could understand why those "happy hour" postings that inevitably appeared every friday on the sides of the chalkboard made me roll my eyes. law school was just a continuation of high school...

    By Anonymous fauveress, at 7:54 PM, July 28, 2005  

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