Re-entering Practice after Time off to Treat Depression

Could you please explain how your organization can help an attorney re-enter the practice of law after taking time off to treat depression? Do you offer any career counseling in this area? I wonder if you offer any support groups for attorneys? I feel as if I am the only lawyer suffering from this dilemma and it would be very beneficial to talk to others who have overcome this task. Thank you.

This is an excellent question. Career re-entry is, or course, an issue in any career, but presents particular challenges to a lawyer. Most lawyers that we have encountered feel that being open (at least in the work arena) about any area of vulnerability is a professional no-no.

For those who are returning to practice after addiction treatment, our recovery-oriented support groups no doubt partly serve this function. But for those who have been dealing with depression or other kinds of mental (or physical) health problems, our repeated attempts to get a small quorum of lawyers to attend even a very time-limited or walk-in group have usually garnered only one or two candidates at a time. (Click the “Programs” icon for the kinds of groups that we offer, and which we would be delighted to activate.)

The fact is that there is no easy or universally applicable advice on negotiating re-entry. Our staff clinicians (click on About LCL and then LCL Staff for their names) are available to meet with you individually for evaluation and short-term problem-solving, focusing on your specific situation. If it looks as if you need a lawyer-focused career counselor, a therapist (which you probably already have), or in some cases a kind of transitional mentor, we have a number of resources to whom we refer. But, please, if you or anyone reading this can commit to fairly consistent attendance at a time-limited group for lawyers coping with depression or career re-entry (indicate one or both), please click the Contact Us button and send us an email. We need at least several participants, but, to turn Field of Dreams around 180 degrees, “If they come, we will build it.”

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