Sunday, November 25, 2007

Downright Depressing

Depression is a dangerous disease, and lawyers are more prone to it than members of any other profession. A 1990 study at Johns Hopkins University found that of 28 occupations studied, lawyers were the most likely to suffer depression, and were more than 3.6 times more likely than average to do so. Why? Perfectionism (wanting to avoid public failure) and pessimism (skepticism of what clients, witnesses, and opposing counsel tell us), leading to stress and disillusionment, which make us vulnerable to depression. Or maybe we work too much and blog too little?

You think I'm kidding, but in Arkansas we have a Lawyers Assistance Program to help attorneys and their families deal with stress and related problems, and about 230 of roughly 6,500 licensed lawyers are in the program. An article by Michelle Bradford reports that "the number of lawyers in Northwest Arkansas has grown tremendously in the past few years, and so has the number of lawyers needing services." I'll buy that.

What is really depressing is the lack of compassion, intelligence, ethics, and critical thinking skills of the students in law school today. A prime example is the incoherent screed in today's newspaper by someone named David Hardaway, who claims to be a law student in a course called Employment Law, one that is always taught from the perspective of the employer's lawyer, since they pay better. Hardaway rambles on, but his main point seems to be that "a minimum wage increase is unnecessary because there are plenty of new immigrants to the country who are more than willing to work at the current minimum wage or even less. They are grateful for the work and they find a way to live on the money they make. People who advocate an increase in minimum wage are doing more harm than good for this country by continuing to foster in our poorer citizens a false sense of entitlement."

That's the kind of self-serving nonsense that gives lawyers a bad name and exposes the weaknesses of admission standards and legal education at the UA Law School. And it makes me depressed.

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