Mental Health

Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Bad Therapist: A Romance, is available on Amazon, as are his previous books, Way Worse Than Being A Dentist and Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy (affiliate links).

“I never thought I’d end up working as a contract attorney doing doc review in a windowless basement,” my client bemoaned. “But then I read that piece about the lawyer who’s working as a clerk at Walmart. At least I’ve still got it over him in terms of job prestige.”

Well, you know how obsessed lawyers are with job prestige.

There’s a phrase, “the Downward Drift,” that crops up in discussions of serious mental health diagnoses like schizophrenia, and/or chronic substance abuse. The idea is that you are afflicted with serious mental illness, or become addicted to a harmful substance, which in turn leads to a slow, inevitable slide downward in terms of social class. Before long, the wealthy, Upper East Side business executive suffering from schizophrenia and/or severe alcoholism finds himself jobless, friendless, and eventually even homeless, sleeping in shelters and begging for change.

Weirdly, the same phenomenon — the Downward Drift — affects people who acquire Juris Doctor degrees…

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Bumpei Sugano of Penn Law

* A surefire way to make your mom proud of you is to file a funny amicus brief with the Supreme Court, get called out for it in the New York Times, and be lauded by us at Above the Law as having filed the “best amicus brief ever.” [Daily Beast]

* Cynthia Brim, a state judge who’s been declared legally insane, wants to return to the judicial bench she’s been suspended from. Hey, you could look at it this way: at least she’d be working for her $182K salary. [Chicago Tribune]

* Our readers will be thrilled to know that beginning this year, lawyers will become obsolete. Artificial intelligence will start taking over your jobs within the next six months or so. [Wired]

* Join the Fordham OUTLaws for a Transgender Law symposium, co-sponsored by Skadden and the LGBT Bar. One of the panelists, Erin Buzuvis, is an amazing professor from my school. [Fordham Law School]

* If you care at all about how well women and minority law students are represented on law reviews, then you’ll want to come to this important event. I’ll be there, and I hope to see you there, too! [Ms. JD]

* In case you were wondering, Penn Law successfully beat the crap out of Wharton (in terms of head to head win-loss record) during the 10th annual Wharton vs. Law Fight Night. [Wharton vs. Law: Fight Night]

* Meet Anthony Halmon, the second-year student at FIU Law who’s relying on his coolness to rock the vote for the SBA presidency. Check out his rap video, after the jump. [Daily Business Review (reg. req.)]

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Disrespecting and intimidating students should be a right for law professors, not a privilege. If you roll into class unprepared, or even just looking stupid, law professors should be able to able to throw a hissy fit at you. That’s practice-ready training. Students should learn that in the real world, partners and judges will intimidate them and make them feel small and stupid for any reason, or no reason at all.

One law professor is having that right taken away from him. He’s been barred from campus. The professor claims he’s suffering from depression and Asperger’s Syndrome, and that the school violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by not accommodating his disability.

Disability? In my day, the moody professor who couldn’t keep his mouth shut or read social cues was the grindstone against which brilliant gunners sharpened their unique skills…

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* Beware of “affluenza” — the condition where rich kids believe that their wealth shields them from consequences. One kid with affluenza was convicted of four counts of manslaughter and got… probation. Great way to teach him that there are consequences. I don’t doubt being a hyper-privileged douche contributed to his criminal behavior, but let’s see if the judge is equally lenient to the next kid in this courtroom who argues that poverty contributed to his crimes. [Gawker]

* In America people complain about law reviews sharing outlines for free. In the U.K., they’re selling notes on eBay. If you’re buying notes off the Internet, perhaps law school isn’t your bag. [Legal Cheek]

* Do Twitter mentions reflect the scholarly significance of a professor’s articles? No. [TaxProf Blog]

* Here’s some terrifying stuff that lawyers want for Christmas. It’s not quite our gift guide. [The Spark File]

* The word “spin” is apparently trademarked. This is the company that did it and enforces its trademark against gyms with uncertified spin classes. [Racked]

* Law school applications are in free fall. Too bad all these people are going to miss out on that sweet $1 million law degree. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Mental health remains a seriously undiscussed problem in the legal industry. [Law and More]

* TSA now confiscating prop guns off stuffed animals. [Lowering the Bar]

* A Chinese law professor lost his job for writing an article advocating constitutional rule. If you think this is a harsh response, remember this government used to throw tanks at people over less. [Washington Post]

* Speaking of China, next month the CBLA is hosting a panel discussion about the expanded use of the FCPA, specifically with regard to China. [CBLA]

Juan Monteverde and Alexandra Marchuk

Alexandra Marchuk’s lawsuit against her former employer, Faruqi & Faruqi, and one of its top partners, Juan Monteverde, marches on. And this time the Faruqis are playing offense.

We previously noted the firm’s attempt to make Marchuk look like a bunny boiler — a mentally unstable young woman who was obsessed with Monteverde, the man whom she claims harassed her. And it looks like the firm is sticking to this strategy, trying to call into question Marchuk’s mental health.

Let’s take a look at their latest motion….

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Amanda Bynes

All childhood stars who grow up to become sought-after celebrities are entitled to have a breakdown or twelve involving legal drama. It happened most recently to the once-luminary leading lady Lindsay Lohan, and it happened to Britney Spears, the preeminent princess of pop, before her. These women were entitled to their meltdowns, and they both earned them the hard way: by bolting breast implants, the gateway drug of choice for young celebutantes, to their chests. Things all went down hill from there.

When lesser stars get into trouble with the law, the world watches, if only to point and share a laugh at their expense. Exhibit A: Amanda Bynes. In the past year or so, the fading star’s legal infractions have been outnumbered only by the number of times a plastic surgeon has put her on the table. Most recently, Bynes was hospitalized under a 5150 mental health evaluation hold, and her assets were placed under a conservatorship by a California court in her mother’s name.

Today, we’ve got the latest news on Amanda Bynes and her never-ending courthouse kookiness. Let’s check out the latest Hollywood legal gossip…

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In Washington, D.C. on Monday, Aaron Alexis gunned down twelve people. As if designed to preempt the scripted reactions of those who fight for an anemic interpretation of the Second Amendment, the Navy Yard massacre included no assault weapon. Alexis committed his crimes in a virtually gun-free zone. His background had been checked in order to gain the active security clearance he held prior to the shooting. While I’m usually game for a good discussion of the proper limits of the Second Amendment, that alone cannot sensibly be the focus here.

Neither is the matter so simple as switching the sound bite of choice from “gun control” to “mental health and gun control.” Most states, as well as the feds, already substantially limit lawful access to firearms by the mentally ill. Even Texas does.

If the law can deprive felons of their Second Amendment rights, gun control measures that restrict the rights of entire classes of potentially dangerous citizens are not off the table. Even as a conservative, my defense of your individual right to bear arms stops right about when you start having auditory hallucinations. But it’s long past time to start responding to horrors like what occurred this week at the Washington Navy Yard with less talk about guns and more talk about mental illness . . . .

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For some people, a career in Biglaw can lead to some serious mental health issues. The odds are high that in some point in your life, you’ll wind up inside a therapist’s office to lament whatever ails you.

But for other people, a career in Biglaw can inspire a will to offer counsel — of the therapeutic variety — to people who’ve been worked to death. And who better to do so than someone who used to work for one of the most prestigious law firms in the world?

You, too, can land a job on the other side of the couch. It’s time to slip off those white shoes, and find out how you can make the transition…

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It’s getting close to the July bar exam. After the Fourth of July holiday is really when the pressure and the stress increases. It’s not a fun time as most exam takers have much of their professional futures invested in passing this exam.

That pressure can be overwhelming for an otherwise healthy individual. But if a person is trying to go through it while dealing with some mental or emotional issues, the bar exam can be downright dangerous.

A sad story about a student who apparently took his own life while preparing to take the exam for a third time has been making its way around the internet. Some lawyers are hoping this death will inspire law schools and bar associations to be more aware of the problem and act to help young people at risk…

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Paul Mannina

Today we’ve got some somber news out of Washington, D.C., where Paul Mannina, a Labor Department attorney who worked in the Division of Plan Benefits Security, was found dead in his jail cell. This isn’t your everyday lawyer death. Mannina was being held because a judge found him to be a danger to the community — you see, this labor lawyer was accused of brutally beating and sexually assaulting his coworker, a fellow attorney.

Authorities have not yet classified Mannina’s death as a suicide, but just hours prior to his death, he was denied release from jail to seek mental health care. Continue reading for some additional details about the underlying case and the grisly scene in Mannina’s jail cell…

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