America’s lawyers aren’t happy.
One in five licensed lawyers having a drinking problem, while almost one in three experienced symptoms of depression, according to a new study published in the February issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine.
Men and young lawyers were found to be particularly at-risk for drinking problems. For instance, 25% of male lawyers tested positively for hazardous, potentially dependent drinking. And over 30% of lawyers 30 years old or younger had similarly alarming scores on the alcohol use test. Only about 11.8% of the highly-educated workforce has a drinking problem, according to the study, which was conducted by the American Bar Association in tandem with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.
The more than 12,000 lawyers surveyed didn’t fare so well on the mental health questions either. While 28% reported at least mild symptoms of depression at the time of the survey, 46% self-reported experiencing depression of the course of their legal careers.
“This long-overdue study clearly validates the widely held but empirically undersupported view that our profession faces truly significant challenges related to attorney well-being,” the study’s lead author, Patrick Krill, said in a press release. “Any way you look at it, this data is very alarming, and paints the picture of an unsustainable professional culture that’s harming too many people.”
The concern over lawyers’ well-being reflects a similar dialogue in the medical field, after a recent study found that one-third of young doctors suffered from depression during their residencies.