Debt isn’t the only downside to getting a law degree; many lawyers ending up turning to booze because of loneliness and stress. Eric Tindal, an alcoholic and an attorney, warned University of Iowa law students about yet another risk in pursuing a JD.
In a speech to law students about substance abuse, he warned that alcoholism is common among lawyers. Nearly 18% of lawyers are alcoholics, compared to 10% of the general population. No surprise, it starts in law school:
The competition with other students ends up as stress. And that develops isolation because the other students are enemies — it creates a breeding ground for addiction.
Many attorneys are high functioning alcoholics, they can show up and get through the day. I knew someone who was able to work 12 hours a day and hide his “secret” from his employer, but went home and drank a gallon of booze a week. You would never have known except that he had a very difficult time remembering events from even a day ago.
While an alcoholic attorney can function, the danger is that an attorney’s work can determine the outcome of a client’s life; their divorce, criminal case, even a will. It all keeps coming back to how badly the law school experience is both financially and as an academic environment. If schools were limited to admitting only enough students to fill jobs, it wouldn’t be so competitive and hostile. Of course, some law schools would have to close, so really, it’s a win-win solution.