If you have a job these days, especially a job at a high-paying law firm, you should be grateful, right? Right.
But that doesn’t mean work is all sunshine and lollipops. Many attorneys continue to experience a high amount of stress, which often manifests itself in the form of illness. A friend who works at a law firm sent us this suggestion:
I’m swamped, but I had to run out of the office for a doctor’s appointment. I was diagnosed with an ulcer last year, and apparently it still hasn’t healed.
Maybe you should do an ATL piece on ostensibly stress-related illnesses suffered by attorneys. What are some of the most “popular” maladies suffered by attorneys at an inappropriately young age?
Good question. Take our survey, and a stroll through the various maladies that have afflicted Elie Mystal, after the jump.
Elie here. Workplace health is a serious issue. I can attest to that firsthand. I still remember getting ready for work on Boxing Day (December 26th) while I was back at Debevoise. My family was camped out on the floor, my wife was buzzing around doing Christmas things, and I was preparing to go to freaking work. I was so angry, and sad, but mostly angry. Murderously angry with a side order of abject self-pity. I had to reach around the Christmas tree to get to my hair pick and …
The next thing I remember I was laid out on the couch with all of my family around me. There was an Elie-sized hole in the Christmas tree, like something you’d see in a Loony Toons cartoon.
Later, the doctors told me I had a panic attack. It was my first, but it wouldn’t be my last. It’s much cooler when Tony Soprano has them. When you are just stretching your legs at 2 a.m., and you’re all alone and the motion sensor lights only recognize you as a crumpled suit laying on the floor, it just feels pathetic.
Anyway, the docs eventually made me go see a shrink. The shrink had all kinds of theories: daddy issues, fear of failure, the one time I got stung by a bee when I was five. I’d never heard such mindless drivel in all my life, and I watched Ishtar. The only thing different from pre-panic attack Elie to post-panic attack Elie was the whole “let’s bill 80 hours or more a week, every week, until we’ve broken you and you are part of our hive” thing.
Eventually, I quit my job. You know what? No more panic attacks (sorry commenters, keep trying though).
These Biglaw jobs take a lot out of you, mentally and physically. Everybody reacts to the experience differently. The only advice worth giving is to jealously guard your own health. Being a big-time lawyer isn’t as bad for your health as being a coal miner, but few would argue that being a lawyer is good for your body.
Take our survey below. Remember, an ounce of prevention could be worth … at least another year you can bill, before everything truly breaks down!