Virtual Office NYC Lawyer, Vivian Sobers, discusses the prevalence of depression in the legal community and shines a light on her own experiences.
It is no secret that I expose myself to potential criticism on a consistent basis, both as an attorney and blogger; however, this blog article, in particular, makes me a little nervous to discuss…even more so than the recent article about my divorce.
Despite my nervousness, I felt it was important to discuss a topic that affects me personally and professionally: depression.
Depression is a condition that does not discriminate. But it is unsettlingly common in the legal profession.
According to a recent study, lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to deal with depression as opposed to non-lawyers. We also rank fourth in suicide rate when compared to other occupations, following dentists, pharmacists and doctors.
These statistics have influenced my decision to share how I am affected by depression.
I deal with depression on a consistent basis.
I suffer from bouts of depression about once a month on average, but they tend to be mild. I’d describe it more so as a feeling of moroseness, as though the weight of the world is crushing me and I begin to doubt everything I do and question whether I’m good enough.
My personality changes too. I become irritable and tend to shut out the world.
I’ll be honest, if I don’t have to be in court or meet with a client and I am dealing with an episode, I may go days without seeing or interacting with anyone. Doing otherwise can really feel as though it is all too much.
The solo attorney lifestyle can contribute to depression.
If you are susceptible to depression, the solo practice lifestyle can contribute to depression. Practicing as a solo can, at times, be just that: Solo.
As a solo, particularly if you run a virtual law office like me, you are alone most of the time and this is definitely a contributor to one’s mentality.
Joining a community of lawyers like the one I have through Law Firm Suites definitely helps eliminate some of the isolation, but even surrounded by other lawyers, I think solo attorneys tend to submerge themselves in their solo world, and that can be very taxing on one’s psyche.
I have learned that being a solo entails a whole different element of stress as opposed to someone who is employed by a firm.
As an attorney, there is often an element of overwhelm and expectation. And as a solo you have to deal with it alone. The upside of being solo is that, other than your clients, you have no one to answer to, but you also frequently have no one to lean on. You are solely accountable for anything that happens.
That can be a lot of pressure, and in many ways, we can be our own worst enemies.The solo attorney lifestyle can easily contribute to depression Click To Tweet
How my solo practice triggers my depression.
In my own personal experiences, each bout of depression varies. Sometimes I notice I’m feeling depressed and other times I don’t notice at all.
My bouts with depression are typically more prevalent the busier I get. For me, there’s a link with the increased responsibility as my case load goes up.
There isn’t specifically one trigger or contributing factor that triggers my depression, it’s more an accumulation of factors. Whether it is a day of 70 e-mails and 40 phone calls or a full day in court, it all adds up to being stressed out by the end of the day.
My most recent and difficult experience with depression happened a couple of weeks ago. That took a couple of weeks to get through.
But I still have a job to do.
As attorneys we are expected to be professional at all times. The downside is that we must always leave our personal troubles at the door. We are expected to perform without interference of personal emotion.
I wear a suit of armor for my clients because I know that what I am feeling shouldn’t affect my work.I wear a suit of armor for my clients Click To Tweet
Dealing with depression in my own way.
Since my depression is mild, I use my own personal methods for dealing with it. Going to the gym helps me a lot. It’s a good stress relief and helps keep me focused.
I also talk to friends frequently.
Speaking with friends who I trust allows me to just let everything out freely, and for the most part, I feel better when I feel I can do this.
My hope is that I was able to shine a little light on this subject, and hopefully my story can make someone else recognize that they are not alone.
Have you dealt with depression as an attorney? Comment below and give us your thoughts.
Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.