Google the words “lawyer” and “stress” or “anxiety” and you’ll see hundreds of comics about lawyers dealing with stress. Most of the comics are pretty funny and yet somewhat sad because they are also all pretty true to real life. Just last month the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being released a report entitled “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change.” The report is intended to bring more pointed awareness to the mental health issues many lawyers face and to also provide recommendations to instill greater well-being in the profession as a whole.
The report is 73 pages in total, which appears to create a daunting read for lawyers and law students, already over-burdened and stressed out. But it is worth the time to read through it. As the report points out, in a study released in 2016 by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, out of nearly 13,000 practicing lawyers who participated in the survey, 28% struggled with some level of depression, 19 percent struggled with some level of anxiety, and 23 percent struggled with some level of stress. In Wisconsin, there were approximately 15,550 active lawyers in 2017.