Stress kills lawyers

Lawyers have among the highest suicide rate of all professions, after cancer and heart, and 6 times the rate of the general public. Most at risk are attorneys between the ages of 48 and 65.  “Significantly, suicide accounted for 10.8 % of all deaths.”

Many suicides come because of the intense pressure on lawyers to succeed, both financially and “professionally,” and after some disappointment such as being laid off or losing a major trial.

I noted in earlier writings that lawyers have a difficult time accepting rejection, a feeling that occurs almost every time a major effort such as a trial or important negotiation occurs. Sales people, on the other hand, accept rejection as part of their daily lives. In fact, the mantra for sales people goes something like, “Each ‘no’ is one step closer to ‘yes.’ And, it takes 9 no’s to get to one yes.” What a powerful culture. Lawyers’ culture of perfectionism and elitism, on the other hand, creates much of the difficulties of the profession.

What would the impact be, for example, if we were to say to ourselves that we cannot fix every problem or challenge presented to us by clients? What if we were to say that it’s the client’s issue, that we will do our best, but that, in the end, it’s still the client who got himself into the pickle barrel?



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