alcoholism

Judge Emily Dean

Here at Above the Law, we write about judges who bring shame to the judiciary all the time, but the subject of today’s foray into judicial misconduct is a wicked pisser — literally. We know things must get boring out in flyover country, Iowa specifically, but this is just crazy (and sad, but mostly crazy).

Let’s meet a judge who once got so wasted as she attempted to report to work at the courthouse that she later spent three days in an intensive care unit for severe alcohol intoxication…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Punished For Going To Court Drunk, Peeing In The Street”

The LSAT’s fate come August?

* NO, NO, NO, NOTORIOUS! Previously unpublished documents from the Clinton White House have been released, and it looks like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was criticized for her “laconic” nature. Not cool, Bill. [Legal Times]

* Document review jobs aren’t going anywhere, folks. Exhibit A: Winston & Strawn’s e-discovery practice is bringing in the big bucks, earning the firm more than $20 million in revenue last year. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* More lawyers are being treated for substance abuse for drugs and alcohol than ever before. In fact, a founding partner of Farella Braun + Martel, one of California’s largest firms, was once a “functioning alcoholic.” [Am Law Daily]

* A Florida jury apparently set on “sending a message” to tobacco companies awarded $23.6 billion in punitive damages to a chain smoker’s widow against RJ Reynolds. That was a costly message. [Reuters]

* June 2014 marked the fewest people who sat for the LSAT in 14 years, but it may get even lower if a new ABA proposal which would allow the test to be waived for 10% of students passes. [Central Florida Future]

* Dan Markel, FSU Law prof, criminal law theorist, and PrawfsBlawg founder, RIP. [Tallahassee Democrat]

During the final year of law school, those who are about to be handed their degrees are desperately seeking legal jobs of any kind so they can be counted among the few, the proud, the would-be lawyers who are employed at graduation.

Considering how terrible the job market is, those who are lucky enough to find a job are likely do anything they can to keep it. They might even be willing to deal with some “disgusting and grotesque” sexual comments for a while.

But how much is too much? It’s quitting time when the boss starts demanding sexual favors…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer Sends Nasty Text Messages To 3L, Demands Sexual Favors”

He hit random keys or wrote, ‘I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job,’ over and over.

– An anonymous source describing stenographer Daniel Kochanski’s “bizarre antics” during numerous trials, which have caused judges to hold reconstruction hearings to repair the record in many cases.

(There’s much more to this story, so keep reading to see what happened.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Court Reporter Causes Chaos By Repeatedly Writing ‘I Hate My Job’ On Trial Transcripts”

Sadly, lawyers are a group vulnerable to succumbing to addictions.  In fact, according to one study, while 10% of the general population suffers from alcohol addiction, this number increases to 20% among lawyers.  That’s right: one in five lawyers are alcoholics.  At this point, you may be starting to wonder who in your firm proves this statistic.  I would advise against this game, however.  Although it may seem mildly entertaining at first, you’ll quickly realize that it’s actually pretty sick.  This is because, of course, the statistic is true.

I remember being warned about the problem of substance abuse in the legal profession during the first week of 1L orientation when we watched a video about addicted attorneys. Unfortunately, this movie — which followed high functioning alcoholics and a woman with a shopping problem — failed to have its intended effect.  That is, instead of scaring me away from drugs and alcohol, the film left me with the misguided impression that being a lawyer is easy.  After all, if those people could practice law when they were completely wasted, doing it sober must be a breeze.

Notwithstanding my experience during 1L orientation, I do realize that drug and alcohol abuse is a serious issue in our profession, and not one to be taken lightly.  If you or anyone you know has dealt with an addiction, you know how hard it can be. The question is, why are lawyers at such a high risk?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Think You Have An Addictive Personality? Steps You Can Take To Avoid The Worst”

We haven’t seen a good Student Bar Association scandal in a while, but that’s all about to change. In case you’re not aware, the law students who are elected to serve on their school’s SBA are tasked with organizing fun events that will make their peers happy, and those events usually cost a lot of money. What can I say, alcohol and vomit clean-up fees are expensive.

So understandably, when that beer money starts to get mysteriously low — in this case, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars inexplicably missing — people start to panic. At what point do you realize the girl responsible for managing your organization’s finances has embezzled more than $30,000?

Probably when she admits to you that she spent the cash to fuel her drug and alcohol addiction…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Student Embezzles Thousands of Dollars While Drunk, High”

Maybe you’ll make partner next year.

Back when I was at the law firm, billing more hours than I knew were in a week, there were people who thought I was “gunning” for partnership. I billed a ton of hours, had basic social skills and a good mentor, and hey, I’d look pretty good in any “diversity” partner puff piece. Just add ten years of sustaining a maniacal pace, learning how to generate rain in a shrinking market, and navigating the political minefield of kissing the right people’s asses, and maybe I could have had a shot.

Suuuure I would have. Making partner at the Biglaw firm that you started with is functionally impossible. It happens so infrequently that setting it as a goal is about as realistic as children saying they want to walk on the Moon when they grow up. The odds were long before the economic crisis that caused partnerships to close their ranks and protect their profits like dragons hoarding treasure.

It’s not going to happen, but trying to get there ruins a lot of people. They can be having perfectly fine, perfectly serviceable Biglaw careers, but then somebody starts dangling the possibility of “partnership” in front of them, and suddenly they are trying to schmooze late into the night and kick their billable hours up into the 3,000-a-year range. And maybe if they’re lucky they’ll be able to get into a less prestigious firm, slog another couple of backbreaking years as “counsel,” and then get equity at some other shop.

Am Law Daily has the story of a man who finally got his shot at the brass ring, was fired over his alcoholism, and died a short while later. It’s a sad and extreme story, but many people fall in all sorts of ways on the path to partnership….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Road to Partner Is Long and Full of Danger”

Earlier this week, a tipster sent us a link to a Greedy Associates post entitled “Why Do Lawyers Drink So Much?” My initial thought was “Ugh.” Honestly, somebody writes that article every three months, and every six months we have to write another version of the same story.

The reasons given for lawyer alcoholism are always the same. “Lawyers are only alcoholic because they’re super TYPE A badasses.” “Lawyers hate their jobs and drink to forget.” “It’s not the law that makes people alcoholics, it’s alcoholics who choose the law!”

I was going to ignore this latest Drunks and the Law story, but then the scotch in my coffee kicked in and I thought, “Hey, isn’t it just that lawyers drink because they can?”

Think about it: being a lawyer is a great job to have if you want to drink as much as possible while also having a job…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Do Lawyers Drink So Much? Because They Can.”

The New York State Bar Association wants to avoid this.

Attorneys tend to be a work-hard, play-hard bunch. After all those long days, it can feel really nice to unwind with a Manhattan at the end of the day. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

That said, nobody wants to end up like Paul Newman’s character in The Verdict, a washed-up, alcoholic ambulance chaser. And it turns out the New York State Bar Association doesn’t want that either.

Last month, the association launched a new online portal for New York attorneys and law school students struggling with alcohol or drug addiction….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “NY State Bar Wants to Help All the Alcoholic Lawyers Out There”