Counsel & Counseling: Attorneys and Mental Health 4 months ago

During this fraught time, there is another epidemic no one is talking about. 

“Being a lawyer is about solving people’s problems: being arrested, getting a divorce, having a business dispute, and so on. We make our clients’ problems into our problems. Add in the worry of being a bill collector and managing an office, and the stress can be crushing. A lawyer with a substance abuse problem or depression may be legally required to report such an illness to their state bar or other lawyer regulatory agencies. This deters lawyers from seeking help and instead they deal with their problems privately, if at all. It’s why I sadly know numerous attorneys who have committed suicide in the past 11 years of my practice.”

—Eric J. Trabin, founder of the Trabin Law Firm, a criminal defense and family law firm in Maitland, Florida. ABAJournal.com 

You learned a lot in law school, but nothing prepared you for the realities of running your law practice as a sustainable business: hiring, firing, bills, training, taxes, advertising, chasing clients, case follow-up, early-morning court, late-evening catch-up sessions, working weekends, and more fast food than anyone should ever be forced to eat. Every day your job is to manage and deal with the most stressful situation in someone’s life. That takes a toll. 

A recent survey by Law.com reported that about 41% of respondents said mental health problems and substance abuse are at a crisis level in the legal industry, while about 34% said they don’t know and 25% said no. More than half of respondents, 56%, said mental health problems and substance abuse are worse in the legal industry than in other industries. Many attorneys are suffering from increased stress and anxiety, and yet no one in our industry feels like they can talk about it. Since iQualify is in the de-stressing business, we see and hear these stories from the front lines all the time. And you know what causes a lot of stress? You guessed it: money.

So much of our stress is tied up in finances. 

As attorneys, we deal with hundreds of small problems every day. Every problem is like adding a tiny stone to your satchel. Not much by itself, but over time – it increases the stress of the load. It means you have to do extra work, with the stress of a heavy load, and it never stops. 50-60-70 hour weeks. All just to barely stay above water and keep the lights on. And at the end of the day, the extra work feels like running on a hamster wheel if you’re also short on money.

Can we be honest for a moment? You can handle the work. You can sign new clients. But chasing clients for money? -that could be the biggest of all your stressors. Your heart races, you avoid it until the last minute, and if you’re lucky you pass the problem off to Carol at the front desk (she’s not great at collecting either, but at least it relieves some pressure). You are their counsel, but you can’t do that if you’re the collection agent

The best thing you can do for a client is a have the freedom to fully represent their best interest in the case. You are called counsel for a reason. And iQualify Lending helps you start putting the counsel back in counselor. With Fortify by iQualify, we’re helping alleviate significant stress and extra work by solving the financial solution for most attorneys. It’s not just retainer financing. It’s a whole new way of life If you are looking for a solution – call us today at 404-369-3112.

Feeling like you’re depressed or overwhelmed by stress? There are several ways to get help, yes, even for attorneys. Start with talking to someone and take away the stigma associated with mental health struggles. If you’re looking to speak with a mental health professional, this link can help. 

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