Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Lawyer Well-Being in a Pandemic


Around one in three lawyers started drinking more over the past 18 months, according to new data.

Thirty-four (34) percent of female lawyers and 29 percent of the male lawyers reported their drinking increased during the pandemic. Women who reported an increase were seven times more likely to engage in risky drinking, and the men were nearly four times more likely.

In addition, 25 percent of women and 17 percent of men said they have thought about leaving the profession due to mental health concerns.

Those findings are from the article “Stress, drink, leave: An examination of gender-specific risk factors for mental health problems and attrition among licensed attorneys,” published in the National Library of Medicine.

Attorney and substance abuse counselor Patrick Krill, a co-author of the study, says lawyers are more anxious, stressed, depressed and burned out than ever.  But there may be a silver lining: the pandemic has lessened the stigma around attorneys seeking mental health services.

“My hope is that will be a legacy of this period we take with us,” says Krill in this ABA Journal article.

Read “Stress, Drink, Leave” here.

Keep yourself and your law practice safe and healthy by being insured with Lawyers Mutual. Our email newsletter “Practice Reimagined” offers timely tips, pointers and valuable links to keep you safe and successful in the new normal.


NC Lawyer Assistance Program

Following is from the NCLAP website:

“NC LAP is a service of the North Carolina State Bar which provides free, confidential, non-disciplinary assistance to lawyers, judges and law students in addressing mental health issues, including problems with drugs or alcohol, and other life stresses which impair or may impair an attorney’s ability to effectively practice law. NC LAP assistance is designed to promote recovery, protect the public, prevent disciplinary problems for lawyers, and strengthen the profession.

In sum, our mission is to: (1) Protect the public from impaired lawyers and judges; (2) Assist lawyers, judges and law students with any issues that are or may be impairing; (3) Support the on-going recovery processes of lawyers and judges; (4) Educate the legal community about issues of substance abuse and mental health.”


The History of NC LAP

“The North Carolina Lawyer Assistance Program’s roots began in 1979 with the assemblage of a group of lawyer volunteers who were themselves recovering alcoholics who saw the need to offer assistance to other lawyers suffering from addiction and alcoholism. The group was named the Positive Action for Lawyers (“PALS”) Committee. In 1994, the State Bar formally recognized the PALS Committee and incorporated PALS as part of the State Bar administration and infrastructure. In 1999, further recognizing the need for additional assistance for lawyers dealing with mental health issues not related to substance abuse, the State Bar then formed the FRIENDS committee. 

Today both programs have been merged into a single Lawyer Assistance Program (“LAP”). NC LAP currently has a staff consisting of a director, two clinicians, one field coordinator and 2 office administration and special projects personnel. NC LAP also has a cadre of dedicated, trained lawyer and judge volunteers, located throughout the state, who are actively involved in providing assistance to lawyers and judges whenever and wherever needed.

NC LAP has a Board consisting of three State Bar councilors, three LAP volunteers, and three clinicians or experts in the field of mental health and addiction. NC LAP also has a steering committee of volunteers from around the state who assist in the execution of special initiatives. NC LAP is also part of the ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP), a network of LAPs serving nearly all 50 states in the U.S.”

For help or more information: Mission | NCLAP

Sources: National Library of Medicine, ABA Journal and NCLAP


Jay Reeves is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Now he writes and speaks at CLEs, keynotes and in-firm presentations on lawyer professionalism and well-being. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which offers confidential, one-on-one consultations to sharpen your firm’s mission and design an excellent Law Life. Contact or 919-619-2441.


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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