“Few would deny the stresses and pressures that come with being a lawyer.
Yet few feel comfortable admitting when those pressures become too much.
One result? Loneliness.
“It’s beautiful to overtly name the emotion,” said Rebecca Simon, a law professor and a co-founder of the Mindfulness, Stress Management and Peak Performance Program at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.
“The loneliness, lack of meaning … That’s why people are turning to all these coping mechanisms and ending their lives and having anxiety and depression,” Simon said, referring to the alarming rates of substance abuse and mental health struggles in the profession.
Patrick Krill, founder of Krill Strategies, who has dedicated much of his career to mental health in the law, said a major driver of the behavioral health problems in the legal profession is “a lack of collegiality or a lack of mutual support.”
“People feel they can’t talk to anybody,” he said.
That comes from a variety of sources—a lack of civility in a line of work that’s adversarial by nature; decreasing connections between lawyers and their firms as lateral movement increases; and a primary focus on billing hours, often a solitary task, to bring in revenue and boost profits.
“The sense of isolation and loneliness that many lawyers feel … that’s real,” Krill said. ‘We need to be aware of that and look for ways to allow people to feel more supported … to make them feel more like part of a team instead of widgets in an office.’”
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