A few weeks ago, a well known litigator in Florida allegedly committed suicide. His face had blessed the cover of magazines and he was touted as a successful lawyer in Florida. He had many multi-million dollar verdicts and seemed to be the epitome of success. I did not know the man personally, but I recall seeing his trial tips and story in a magazine.
This man's alleged suicide was shocking to me. He seemed to fit into the legal culture and was successful. That is not me at all. I don't like going to the local attorney meetings or participating in the local bar events. I do not fit into the culture of practicing law in my area. For example, I have gone to many a hearing on a case and I was the only female, the only minority in the room and the only one under 50 years old. No one was unkind to me and the hearings have gone well. However, there is a lingering feeling, within me, that I just don't fit in. I also don't make a lot of money as a lawyer. I replaced an older white male attorney and I am paid at least $40,000 a year less than he was making (I started out making $50,000 a year less than he did.). I've seen his old timesheets- I do more work than he did and I have more firm-wide day-to-day responsibilities than he did- yet there is a disparity in pay. Is is due to my age, my race, my gender or experience? I always have those lingering questions. I don't like practicing law, it is just a stressful job to me. A job
that I hope I will be able to transition out of and into something
Nevertheless, the practice of law is stressful and it can be depressing. There are often feelings that you are not good enough. There is a lot of embarrassment,shame, anger if you lose a hearing/case/trial. About 10 years ago an local attorney in a nearby town committed suicide. I had interacted with him on several cases. I recall thinking, "I wonder why he chose to end his life?" He was a partner in a law firm, had just recently lost and lot of weight and seemed to have all the confidence in the world.
I encourage everyone, not just lawyers, to get help for mental health issues. I also would like to point out that many people suffer from mental issues. People who you never would suspect suffer from mental health issues. It is important to focus on kindness in your interactions with others.