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Copyright (c) 2008 The Journal of the Legal Profession
The Journal of the Legal Profession

Lawyer Depression: Taking a Closer Look at First-Time Ethics Offenders



32 J. Legal Prof. 289


Page Thead Pulliam


Commentators have devoted much attention to the role of clinical depression in the legal profession. 1 Recent articles address the need for an immediate and effective response to the profession's battle against depression. 2 Kristy N. Bernard and Matthew L. Gibson proposed the use of diversion programs as an alternative to traditional attorney discipline in their article Professional Misconduct by Mentally Impaired Attorneys: Is There a Better Way to Treat an Old Problem? 3 Since Bernard and Gibson's article in 2004, a proliferation of articles have been published on this topic 4 in state and county bar magazines, 5 in addition to increasingly relevant medical studies and improved treatment options for depressed persons. 6 Bernard and Gibson's proposal illustrates the general faults of most of these articles: broad generalizations about mental impairment and failure to offer the means necessary to successfully implement an effective program. 7 This incomplete nature of these proposals exposes why state bars continue to grapple with the issue of lawyer depression. 8

Legal professionals recognize the desperate situation of depressed lawyers. 9 For instance, Indiana State Bar President Richard S. Eynon considered "stress and depression in the legal profession" a major focus of his presidency. 10 Eynon stressed that the legal profession now reigns as the most depressed profession. 11 As depressed lawyers can attest, it is lonesome at the top. "It's time we address this reality." 12 In response, many commentators have presented proposals to address professional depression. 13
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