Prevalence of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in Attorneys

A recent survey sponsored by the American Bar Association of over 12,000 practicing U.S. attorneys, revealed the following alarming statistics:

  • Lawyers Struggling with Problematic Alcohol Use (vs. 9-12% of general population) : 20% 20%
  • Lawyers with Clinical Symptoms of Depression: 28% 28%
  • Lawyers Who Have Had Thoughts of Suicide During Their Careers: 12% 12%
  • Lawyers Who Reported Significant Anxiety: 61% 61%
  • Lawyers Who Met Criteria for Anxiety Disorder: 19% 19%

Attorneys in their first ten years of practice appear to be at highest risk for developing substance use and mental health disorders.

The American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being was created in 2016 in response to these startling prevalence rates, which far exceed those of the general population. Formal recommendations to improve lawyer well-being, published in 2017, stated the following:

“We are at a crossroads. To maintain public confidence in the profession, to meet the need for innovation in how we deliver legal services, to increase access to justice, and to reduce the level of toxicity that has allowed mental health and substance use disorders to fester among our colleagues, we have to act now.”

Discuss your concerns confidentially with our experienced staff, who can offer resources, support and recommendations to successfully intervene, optimally engage and motivate the struggling individual to accept professional assistance.