Mental Illness

The classic version of lawyer suicide (and yes, it happens so often in this profession that there are “classic” representations of the problem) is the big-city lawyer who sold his soul, and possibly his ethics, who kills himself when the authorities come circling. Another tired trope is the hyper-stressed lawyer working in a high-rise who jumps out of a window when he loses a big case or a big client. Or maybe you think of the over-achieving law student who throws himself in front of a train or off of a bridge during exam season.

Lawyer suicide is so common that I think a disproportionate rate of early, self-inflicted death is just considered part of the price of doing business. Maybe hazard pay should be built into lawyer salaries like it is for race car drivers or test pilots.

But the longer I cover the legal profession, the more I learn that lawyer suicide is happening more than I think, in places where I wouldn’t expect it. Today’s sad piece is about a rash of lawyer suicides in a small state…

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They would greenlight a mash-up of this movie and Legally Blonde now.

It appears that a lot of you would like to know which law professor authored the “Confessions of a Sociopath” summary and book that we discussed yesterday. I guess it’s news if it appears that one of your law professors has gone on television to say that she might murder someone. Sources have come forward about the author’s possible identity, so we’ll share with you what we’re being told while noting that the anonymous author hasn’t yet officially come forward.

It seems that donning a wig and going on Dr. Phil to talk about your sociopathic thoughts doesn’t protect your identity as much as one would think

[Note the UPDATE after the jump....]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Author of ‘Confessions of a Sociopath’ Might Be This Law Professor”

Have you ever thought that your law professor was a sadistic bastard? Have you ever felt like the prosecutor across the table was an emotional black hole? Would it freak you out if you turned out to be clinically right?

We’ve talked a lot about mental health recently, from panic buttons to Asperger’s (or autism spectrum disorder, if you prefer). But today we’ve come across a truly chilling article from a law professor who admits that she’s a sociopath and writes about how law is the perfect field for people like her.

I’m turning the snark meter way down on this post because, well, I don’t want to be murdered…

Note the UPDATE at the end of this post concerning the professor’s possible identity.

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When I discussed the NALP mental health panel, I noted that we are going to see more and more law students with mental health problems in the future. As mental health services get better in high school and college, people who would have washed out are going to do well enough to get into law school.

But should they go to law school? Today, we have a question from a person suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. He got into a Top 6 law school, with scholarship money. But he wonders if he should even bother if he’ll get shut of Biglaw because of his symptoms.

Let’s see what you guys think….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Decision: Should A Minority With Asperger’s Even Bother?”

Banks need panic buttons. Jodie Foster needs a panic room. I only panic when it’s nine in the afternoon. But the thought that American law schools should have a panic button in their career services office didn’t occur to me until I attended the NALP panel on spotting mental health issue in the law school community.

The panel consisted of Hanna Stotland, a career and admissions consultant; Dr. Nada Stotland, Professor of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center; and William Chamberlain, Director of Career Services at DePaul Law School.

I thought I was in for a touchy-feely hour about how it’s wrong to exclude the awkward gunner in the front row from all the reindeer games. Instead it was a sobering medical breakdown of the mental illnesses that afflict 20 percent of law students — and what career services officers can do to help stop people from literally killing themselves, which happens at way more law schools than I realized.

And yeah, your CSO should probably get a panic button installed if it doesn’t have one already….

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Note that even this guy doesn’t actually use ricin.

In news that doesn’t involve 19-year-old, “dark-skinned” Russian/Chechen nephews held up in Watertown with FAKE Twitter accounts, there’s some more information this morning on the coward who allegedly sent ricin to the president, a senator, and a judge. Think Walter White, only without the badass.

We don’t plan to publish a lot of content today, given the circumstances. If we return to a state of “peace” today, we’ll certainly get back to trying to make that sure that Gawker sorority chick ends up applying to law school.

But since the ricin story relates to the general “Jesus Christ” WTF-ness of this week, let’s examine the new details on Paul Kevin Curtis, suspected ricin mailer nutbag…

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Cynthia Wachenheim

Elie’s story earlier today about Cynthia Wachenheim, a Columbia Law School graduate and New York court attorney who took her own life and almost killed her infant son, has generated a lot of controversy. See, for example, the more than 100 comments on the original story.

Here at Above the Law, we believe in providing a wide range of viewpoints on different issues. Keep reading for a detailed and heartfelt message from a friend of Wachenheim who provides a counterpoint to Elie’s point of view….

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Strapped in this, the child survived his mother’s jump out an eighth-floor window.

I was hoping to avoid this story because it’s horrible and I didn’t want to deal with it. But it’s all over the news now and so we have to talk about it.

A lawyer, Cynthia Wachenheim, on leave from the Manhattan Supreme Court, jumped to her death from a Harlem apartment with her 10-month-old son strapped to her body in an Ergo baby carrier. The baby survived.

I know that society requires and expects me to use restraint or even show sympathy for suicide “victims.” But I just can’t muster the will to conform to social conventions in this case. This woman left behind a 13-page suicide note (of course a lawyer leaves a 13-page suicide note) explaining that she thought her baby had cerebral palsy based on internet research (doctors found nothing wrong with the child). When nobody believed her crazy rantings, her solution was to try to kill her own child — as if even an actual diagnosis of CP was worse than death.

Screw this woman….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Attorney Jumps To Her Death Cradling Her Baby; The Baby Is Fine”

* What Dewey know about this failed firm’s bankruptcy case? According to Judge Glenn’s latest order, it seems like D&L’s Chapter 11 plan is on track for confirmation in late February, unless there are objections, of course. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* The Law School Admission Council is suing California because the state’s legislature banned the practice of alerting schools when applicants had extra time to complete the LSAT. How lovely that LSAC values the ability to discriminate. [National Law Journal]

* “It’s not like we let anybody in the door. We don’t.” Apparently Cooley Law’s new Florida campus has very stringent admissions standards. Oh really? What else is required, aside from a pulse? [Tampa Tribune]

* It’s now too constitutionally risky for cops to get all frisky: a federal judge ordered that the NYPD cease its stock-and-frisk trespass stops without reasonable suspicion of actual trespass. [New York Law Journal]

* Tamara Brady, the lawyer for the accused shooter in the Aurora movie theater massacre, is setting the stage for her client’s diminished capacity defense — because even the mentally ill can buy guns. [Bloomberg]

* Pfc. Bradley Manning of WikiLeaks infamy will receive a reduced sentence if he’s convicted due to his illegal pretrial punishment, like being forced to sleep in the nude. A true hero! [Nation Now / Los Angeles Times]

Carolyn Barnes

If the law allows a mentally incompetent lawyer to represent a citizen, then the law needs to be changed, because that is ridiculous.

John Bradley, the outgoing District Attorney for Williamson County, Texas, commenting on Carolyn Barnes’s ability to represent clients from inside her unit at a state psychiatric facility. Barnes has been involuntarily committed since mid-2011, when she was found incompetent to stand trial on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

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