Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program

COVID - 19 Article 
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are beginning to ripple through the legal community. Law firms are starting to layoff staff as federal and state courts are reducing dockets in their fight to help contain the spread of the virus. Firms that haven’t furloughed workers are reducing compensation while clients are asking them to either stop working completely or defer payments. With all of this, it’s not a leap to assume that the economic impact of the pandemic will lead to emotional turmoil and an exacerbation of already recognized concerns in the legal industry regarding depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. According to a 2016 American Bar Association study conducted with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, 21% of licensed attorneys were considered problem drinkers, and 28% identified a struggle with depression, and 19% reported symptoms of anxiety.
Under normal circumstances, lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than nonlawyers. This figure played a role in making the legal industry the 11th-highest incidence of suicide among professions. Alex Yuflik, a clinical rehabilitation coordinator for the State Bar of California’s Lawyer Assistance Program, pointed to an array of factors that contribute to lawyer suicide: depression, anxiety, job stress, unfulfilled expectations, and a perceived sense of failure. These factors are almost identical to the health risks posed by social isolation: poor sleep, depressive symptoms, and impaired executive function. When executive function skills are impaired, a person may find it more difficult to focus, manage their emotions, remember information, and follow directions.
It is clear from the data that Covid-19 may have a dramatic effect on a lawyer’s psyche. With this in mind, it is necessary that everyone engages in self-care and pay attention to any possible warning signs. However, it is extremely important to remember that no one has to go through this alone. There are a variety of resources available that can provide the help and support to anyone struggling to cope during this pandemic. For example, the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program (LJAP) offers a wide-range of services to help its members through all types of situations. This program is publishing resources, articles and news via Twitter every day. Visit their website at https://www.michbar.org/generalinfo/ljap/home  or follow LJAP @MIStateBar_LJAP.

Matthew Smith