Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Alcohol and Lawyers

At Queen's, we have drinking parties called "smokers". I have no idea if this is a Queen's thing or a law thing, but it always involves a lot of drinking. In general, events with law students seem to involve a lot of alcohol. I read on Anonymous Lawyer's blawg that:
Lawyers are all drunks anyway. I'd bet there are less than a half-dozen partners here without a bottle of liquor somewhere in their offices. And some mouthwash, to hide the smell when you're drinking at ten in the morning.
OK then. Now I see where the drinking leads. And it seems to be a problem in Canada as well. The National Judicial Assistance Program states:
There are estimates that between 10% and 15% of the general population in Canada suffers from the disease of alcoholism. The percentage in the legal profession is higher than in the general population. A study by Health and Welfare Canada in 1993, revealed that 35% of lawyers were problem drinkers.
A word of warning comes from the Legal Profession Assistance Conference:
Any alcoholic lawyer who practices in a profession where the identification and treatment of the alcoholic is not a priority, is sentenced to a life of despair and loneliness, default and defeat, dread and death.
Yikes! So how did this situation arise anyhow? If the number is as high as 35%, we are not just talking about the guys who representing the Mercks of the world. If I were helping them plague the world with murderous drugs, I would probably drink myself into a stupour regularily as well. But 35% is more than the profligate opportunists among us. (I hope!!) Are lawyers just too stressed out and overworked? From the firm tour, it seems like many corporate lawyers are putting in 60, 70, 80 hour weeks. That's a lot, but I remember when I was working in finance we would work 65 - 70 hour weeks and I wouldn't say anyone was a drunk. Hmmmmmm. . .

Mental note: drink in moderation. ;)


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