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Panel encourages lawyers to engage in self care



OCEAN CITY – It’s no secret that lawyers have high-stress jobs, so the convergence of 700 lawyers at the beach for the Maryland State Bar Association annual meeting was a good time to remind them to take a break.

“The legal profession is much more vulnerable to drinking, anxiety disorders,” said Robert A. Simon, a forensic psychologist on Friday’s panel. Simon gave a presentation titled “Why Good People Do Bad Things.”

A recent study the ABA found that attorneys are almost twice as likely to have problems with alcohol than other professionals. Nearly 30 percent of attorneys struggle with depression and almost 20 percent have symptoms of anxiety, the study found.

Simon pointed out that lawyers, particularly those in family law, are in the group of people who have high stress jobs that involve solving other people’s problems.

“We are in a high risk field, we must practice self-care,” Simon said about caregivers.

Signs of distress include lack of sleep, not feeling well, family problems, economic stress, job dissatisfaction, lack of exercise and poor nutrition, among other factors.

Lisa Caplan, counselor at the Maryland Lawyers Assistance Program, encouraged Maryland lawyers to take advantage of the program’s services.

“It is very important for you to be able to take care of yourself, otherwise you won’t be able to take care of anyone else,” she said.

The Maryland Lawyers Assistance Program has been around for 37 years. It started out as a substance abuse program but has since expanded its mission to help lawyers and law students stay healthy.

MSBA Wellness Committee co-chair Carol Ann Smith was also on Friday’s panel, which was moderated by attorney Jim Milko, who is the newly elected chair of the Family and Juvenile Law Section.


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