Lawyer FAQs


Q. Only those lawyers who can't handle the pressure that comes from practicing law have mental health issues. FALSE

A. 61% of lawyers report over the course of their careers suffering from anxiety. 46% of lawyers report over the course of their careers suffering from depression. 28% of lawyers report current symptoms of depression, 19% report current symptoms of anxiety and 23% report current symptoms of chronic stress.

Q. Lawyers have higher rates of alcohol and drug misuse than another other profession. TRUE.

A. 36% of lawyers report problematic drinking behaviors as compared to 12% in a similar highly educated workforce and 15% of physicians.

Q. New lawyers are more resilient and don't have as many issues as experienced lawyers. FALSE.

A. 29% of lawyers practicing in the first 10 years of practice report problematic drinking. This decreases to 21% for lawyers with 11-20 years of experience and further decreases to 19% when practicing for more than 20 years.

Q. The only significant issues in lawyer competency are alcoholism, drug addiction, depression and anxiety. FALSE.

A. 12% of lawyers report dealing with problems stemming from Attention Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD), 8% report panic disorder, 2% report bipolar disorder, 3% report self-injury and 1% reported at least one suicide attempt. No issue should be ignored.

Q. Only lawyers who deal with criminal defendants have issues with compassion fatigue. FALSE.

A. All lawyers deal with problem solving and often high-pressure problem solving. Lawyers practicing in all areas of law are subject to compassion fatigue, although those in family law, juvenile law, criminal law and corporate law have the highest rates of compassion fatigue.

Q. No one has noticed that I'm struggling with an issue that is impairing my practice. FALSE.

A. Someone has noticed. It may be office staff, a judge, a client or opposing counsel. Often people do not know who to ask for help on behalf of a lawyer laboring with an impairment issue. Like with all problems in life, the longer a problem is ignored, the bigger the problem gets. Hiding from any issue will not make it go away. Ask for help before you get a call from someone on a disciplinary board to explain your actions.

Q. If I ask for help, the disciplinary board will find out. FALSE.

A. NH Supreme Court Rule 58 guarantees the confidentiality of all client interaction with NHLAP, its employees and its volunteers. NH Rules of Professional Conduct 8.3 (c) exempts NHLAP employees and its volunteers from reporting attorney misconduct received during their course of working with a client. NH Administrative Rule 37(e) guarantees that NHLAP interaction with clients is shielded by attorney-client privilege. Confidentiality is guaranteed.

Q. NHLAP can't help me if I don't abuse drugs or alcohol and don't have a mental health diagnosis. FALSE.

A. NHLAP can help with building healthy coping skills, stress management ideas, work-life balance issues, aging, physical health issues, grief, gambling, burnout and job dissatisfaction. No issue is too small. No lawyer should feel alone. NHLAP is here to help.

Q. Alcohol problems are real even if I don't drink every night or drink so much I black out. TRUE.

A. Substance misuse is a continuum. Problems arise when someone is dependent on alcohol, when someone uses alcohol as the only stress reliever or if use of alcohol interferes with personal relationships, work obligations and/or overall health. The current science on addiction finds that there is no definition of problematic drinking, but there is universal consensus that problematic drinking is progressive. If drinking is an issue, any kind of issue, NHLAP is here is to help.