Lawyers Journal

Seek help before a problem becomes a crisis

Q:When I made my first appointment with LCL three years ago, it was only under threat of losing my job. With the clarity afforded by hindsight and the help of several months of counseling, I now see that my family, colleagues and I would all have been better off if I had not delayed getting help; but I was too blind, afraid and proud. Although I regret the way my past behavior affected my personal and professional relationships, I am also grateful for the help, forgiveness and encouragement I've received from others. I now have a sense of peace that I am finally on the right track. If I had a message for other attorneys facing escalating personal problems, it would be to do what I wish I had done: seek help sooner rather than later.

A:Perhaps it is fitting that you do not name the specific problem(s) that ultimately led you to seek help, since this letter expresses the experience of many clients who have contacted LCL over its 25 years. Myriad problems - chemical and behavioral addictions, mood/anxiety disorders, marital/family conflicts and other self-defeating behaviors - all tend to lead to professional, financial and/or health losses when not addressed.

It is as much a part of life to encounter major problems, as it is a part of human nature (at least in American culture) to want to handle them ourselves, to avoid admitting an error, and to present ourselves as always competent and confident. But as the renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung once stated, "Error is just as important a condition of life's progress as truth."

In other words, our problems can be a valuable source of learning. The other good news, as you have apparently discovered, is that today's mental and behavioral health community offers excellent medical and therapeutic resources to support the problem solving process; we do our best to remain aware of them on our clients' behalf.

We wish you continued success, and we join you in encouraging members of the legal community to act before a problem reaches crisis proportions. LCL's confidential services are free because every lawyer licensed in Massachusetts has already provided our support - so we hope others will follow your advice and call at the earliest sign of a problem.

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