Any Fellow Lawyers Out There?

Old 04-16-2015, 01:54 PM
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Any Fellow Lawyers Out There?

I am just reaching one month sober. It has been very difficult but also eye opening about learning some of the things that caused me to drink - and I think a large part was stress caused by long hours and general dissatisfaction/disinterest with my job as a mid-level associate lawyer in a large law firm. I began drinking more during law school (I went into law to please my family, rather than as a passion--FYI, never a good idea). Then my drinking gradually progressed over the years to become very serious, thus my new sobriety.

I was just wondering if there were any other lawyers on this forum that wouldn't mind sharing their experiences of their job and what impact (if any) it had on drinking patterns, and even challenges to sobriety.

My biggest challenge to sobriety right now is that I'm continuing to be dissatisfied in my day to day job life (being sober has given me a lot of changes in my life, but unfortunately job happiness isn't one of them). I guess this is something I need to figure out down the road -- I don't feel I have the mental stability to completely switch careers right now, and I also have no clue what other job I would do, so I am sticking with law for the near future at least.

Hopefully I'm not alone and there are other lawyers that can relate. Would love to hear thoughts and experiences.

Last edited by cambie03; 04-16-2015 at 01:55 PM. Reason: misspelling
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Old 04-16-2015, 01:57 PM
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Not a lawyer & not a judge either lol but do want to congratulate you on a month of sobriety

Awesome work keep it up my friend
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Old 04-16-2015, 02:27 PM
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Your post could have been written to describe me if you replace mentions of law with finance instead. I became disillusioned after 10 years in finance and realized that I was stuck in a middle-management wasteland where my only escape was in a bottle of vodka. I was miserable and don't really know why I chose the industry.

Still searching for my passion but at least I am sober. I know that the answer won't come in a bottle.
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Old 04-16-2015, 03:03 PM
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I don't think the common denominator is being a Lawyer, my whole working life I've moved jobs and still found comfort in a bottle when I got home each evening, I drank away the stress of the day and slowly things progressed to the point that I had to make some changes.

For me I had to realise that work was always going to be stressful, Sobriety wasn't going to solve that, dealing with people, deadlines etc etc, changing jobs wasn't an alternative.

The solution was substituting my coping mechanism, a different lifestyle, rather than going out drinking after work, heading to the liquor store on the way home, developing a healthier way to deal with, and switch off from work, that was the solution.

Work for me I used to use as an excuse to drink, to make Sobriety happen I needed to find another way!!
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Old 04-16-2015, 04:26 PM
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Congrats on your month cambie

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Old 04-16-2015, 04:30 PM
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Congratulations on a sober month!
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Old 04-16-2015, 04:51 PM
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Thanks for all the responses guys. I definitely agree that rather than using work as an "excuse" to drink, I need to just learn to deal with stress etc. in my new sobriety and move forward.

Wastinglife, I know many people in finance and I feel that there are a lot of parallels between legal and finance jobs. Congrats on getting sober despite being in a bad position - how long have you been sober?
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Old 04-16-2015, 05:08 PM
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Hey, cambie, lawyer here (retired prosecutor). I'd be glad to pm with you about it.

Incidentally, there are a few great resources for lawyers who are in recovery. One is "Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers"--here's a NY Times article about it: LCL. We had a very small group in my county that eventually folded because we weren't getting enough participation, but I did it for the past couple of years (I'm sober six and a half years). The NY Lawyers' Assistance Program (LAP) is another good resource: NYLAP. And finally, there is International Lawyers in AA. I've never had much involvement with them (though I'm in AA), but they have a listserv as well as an annual convention.

I no longer actively practice law, but I got an AWESOME post-retirment job working at a nonprofit that deals with the criminal law issues I was most passionate about (violence against women). I would NEVER have gotten this job if I had still been drinking when I retired. I would have just isolated and started drinking myself to death, most likely.

Congrats on your month!
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Old 04-16-2015, 06:42 PM
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Just for the information of anyone wondering, it isn't that lawyers are "special" or that we need something just for us--many professionals, especially doctors, lawyers, judges, police officers, etc., are held to especially high standards and alcohol- (or drug-) related incidents can cause professional problems (including impacting one's license to practice) that often make it especially daunting to actively seek recovery. It's just an additional level of pressure that sometimes makes it harder to seek help or admit that there's a problem.

I didn't avail myself of any of those resources when I first got sober, though I try to be involved with them now, primarily to help others in my profession who may need someone who understands some of the professional challenges that pile on top of (or are intermingled with) the challenges we all face in early recovery.
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Old 04-16-2015, 11:16 PM
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It was easy to blame my alcohol abuse on the stress of the job. I hated my job. I hated billing 50-60 hours a week. I hated the office politics. My drinking really picked up after I was laid off from a big firm during the recession. Area law firms were folding left and right, and it was a rough job market. I had a generous severance package and a lot of free time on my hands. Not a good combination.

I eventually went back to school, got an LLM, and started working at a professional services firm as a consultant. But I was still drinking alcoholically. I was still stressed out even though I wasn't technically practicing law. I still spiraled out of control.

The truth is, it wasn't the profession or the stress that drove me to drink. It was me. I feel like in a parallel universe, even if I was doing something completely different as career, I would have still ended up in the same place.

The good news is that there is a lot of support available. Others have posted links. I'm not in NYC, but another major east coast city. We have a lawyers only AA meeting that is off the books (LCL). No doubt there are AA lawyers meetings in NYC. There is help if you want it.

After over two years sober, I find that the "stress" I had created in my life is all but gone. I still have the same job at the professional services firm. I still bill a lot of hours. I have far more responsibility and clients now than I did 2 years ago. Doing good work only breeds more opportunities for work. But the stress and professional situations that I used to drink over don't phase me anymore.

There are healthy coping mechanisms available. For me, the 12-steps changed my life, how I view my job and the corresponding stress/time commitments. There are other recovery programs too that provide skills to deal with the stress. You just have to be open-minded and wiling to do the work.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 04-17-2015, 09:29 AM
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I am a lawyer who drank 6-10 drinks almost every night after work for 20 years. I am now 20 months sober.

Since getting sober, I find that my stress level (which I initially thought was caused by work) is much lower. Getting sober didn't make my job more satisfying. It just made it less stressful and, probably, easier, since I am not hungover like I often was while drinking. Sobriety hasn't made all of my problems go away (like periodic job/career satisfaction). But it has made a whole lot of other problems go away.

Feel free to send me a PM if you would like to swap stories or if you think I can offer any guidance.

Good luck. I am glad you are here with us.
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Old 04-17-2015, 10:41 AM
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I got a DUI during my third year of law school! I had to notify the school and, of course, the Bar. That was fun...

It definitely wasn't the stress that led me to drink. Like digdug, I would have been an alcoholic no matter what career I chose. I no longer practice since having 2 little boys and I've found myself in an entirely different career that I am loving! It actually involves quite a bit of stress at times but I'm having the time of my life and having spent most of my career as an attorney, work stress is something that I can handle! It's also much easier to handle the stressors thrown at me now with a clear head.

Congratulations on 1 month! So great!!!!
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