Becoming a Bar-certified attorney in California is a huge accomplishment that leads to a highly rewarding, yet highly demanding legal career.
Lawyers and judges are prone to extreme mental stress that can exacerbate alcohol and substance use, yet many legal professionals decline to seek help for addiction disorders for fear of adverse consequences.
Clients rely on their attorneys to handle difficult cases that affect all aspects of their lives, including mitigating potential prison sentences. The circumstances surrounding a case can become heavy, and lawyers without established boundaries and healthy self-care routines can struggle to cope. While drinking is not a reason for an investigation by the State Bar of California, full-blown alcohol or drug addiction can interfere with attorney-client relationships and lead to instances of misconduct that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Resources for practicing legal professionals
Research suggests that one in five practicing attorneys struggles with dependency problems. Some may face disciplinary action and may not reach their full potential within the profession. The reluctance to seek treatment is understandable, but there are resources for those worried about losing their jobs and their law licenses:
- The State Bar of California Lawyer Assistance Program
- The Other Bar support community
- Continuing Legal Education Courses
You should do everything in your power to address your addiction problem while protecting your law license, shielding your reputation and preserving your career. If you are a California lawyer, and you have received a State Bar inquiry letter regarding ethical concerns, you must be proactive.