Here’s the worst kept secret in the legal industry: lawyers are, by and large, addicts. Seriously, it’s a massive problem in the profession. We drink to excess, both personally and professionally, pretty much from the moment we enter law school until the moment we retire from the practice. A bar event is almost always going to have an open bar at it, and, as a recent discussion in the Lawyer Slack pointed out, people that order something “not booze” at networking or professional events may be subject to suspicion or even ridicule for their choice to enjoy a nice, cold glass of milk rather than a white russian.
I have no snark for you today. I can’t make myself joke or curse about this topic. I know too many people that are or were in the grasps of it, and have seen careers and lives end because of it.
Not mine, of course. I’m lucky in that I discovered, after much worry, that I wasn’t an addict and I was capable of saying “No” and stopping after a couple. I know, I’m ruining the mystique. Fuck you. I get to. That was a concern of mine when I was younger. I like liquor, but I like living more.
Want the other worst kept secret in the legal profession? Your addicted lawyer likely isn’t seeking help for their addiction. Either we’re afraid of the very public stigma of admitting we have a problem, the professional stigma of admitting we have a problem, or we’re afraid of the almighty Disciplinary Board swooping in to deprive us of our livelihoods with the simple words “License Suspended.” A lawyer without a license to practice isn’t a lawyer, he’s an overeducated burger flipper and a disgrace to the profession. And, for an attorney, the loss of the license isn’t just the lost of a career…it can be the loss of your identity. You’ve been a lawyer for years, decades even. Most of your friends are lawyers. Your life has revolved around being a lawyer.
When a lawyer loses their license, they in some way lose a big chunk of themselves…and that’s fucking terrifying. So, we don’t seek out help when we’re one shot too many into the evening, or when we’re suffering from crippling depression, or when there’s a pile of cocaine calling us. Because we’re scared of the consequences, which can be swift and sudden.
So, when Brian Cuban , attorney and advocate for lawyers getting fucking help, announced the release of his new book, “The Addicted Lawyer: Tales of the Bar, Booze, Blow, and Redemption” , I was quick to pre-order a copy and then wait expectantly for its arrival. I devoured it. Twice. Then a third time. Then…well…then, in the immortal words of Elton John, I sat down to and wrote this song.