“What we found is trouble,” said Krill, who presented some of the survey’s preliminary findings at a program sponsored by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation on Sept. 22 in Chicago. He said the number of problem drinkers in the legal profession is more than double that of the general population—and he cautioned that even that figure may be an overly conservative estimate. “The reality is that careers in the law carry with them heightened risk of problematic and dangerous lifestyles, overall lack of wellness, addiction and other mental health concerns,” said Krill, noting that the problem reaches into the judiciary and law schools. The foundation is based in Center City, Minnesota.
Citing just a few findings, Krill said 21 percent of the attorneys responding to the survey acknowledged that they are problem drinkers, 28 percent struggle with depression, 19 percent experience anxiety, and 11.5 percent have reported suicidal thoughts. The project surveyed 15,000 lawyers around the United States during 2014 and 2015.
Granted, this study focuses on attorneys in general, not just the ones dealing with eDiscovery, and doesn’t include litigation support staff, or paralegals, but do we really think those results would be drastically different? Working long hours, on tight deadlines, forces us to neglect our own well-being. Not taking care of our own, basic, needs, leads to substance abuse, depression, and overall unhealthy lifestyles. Some of us might be able to work in this field the way it is currently and not fall prey to unhealthy lifestyles, but clearly many of us are not, in numbers that exceed the rest of the world. That’s not exactly a sustainable industry.