The Emotional Fallout of the Economy

We’ve become accutely aware over the past 6-9 months of the severe emotional impact the current economic situation is having on the legal profession. Calls to FLA from attorneys dealing with stress and depression resulting from financial conditions have spiked significantly during that time period, and our Clinical Director, Dr. Weinstein, is dealing with more serious cases (some suicidal) than any of us can remember. Attorneys facing the loss of a position they’ve held for a number of years, or not being able to find work upon admisssion, or seeing their income drop precipitously actually seem to suffer emotional distress to a greater degree than other members of society, due to the fact we’re supposed to be the “strong” ones who help others and don’t show that kind of weakness. Take a look at this article in Adam Smith, Esq. for information.

What can we do about it (other than hope the downturn comes to an end relatively quickly)? Well, lawyer assistance programs around the country are developing support systems to help legal professionals both emotionally and practically. A number of states, such as Oregon and Washington, have produced multi-day workshops to help lawyers work through difficult financial transitions and learn how to weather the storm. FLA and the Florida Bar Center for Professionalism are developing a similar workshop which will hopefully be presented in November 2009. The ABA has taken a very proactive position on helping members of the profession by preparing and making available a number of practice aides, teleconferences, and materials – links to those ABA resources can be found on this site under the Links tab.

Please feel free to comment on this subject with your own experiences, good or bad. Certainly, suggestions on how to deal with the emotional and economic impact of the current recession will be appreciated, and represent the best of “lawyers helping lawyers”.

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