One of the first and most common questions I get asked when I talk to people about this book is: why are you focusing on law? Isn’t depression something that affects people from all walks of life?
It is, and of course lawyers are no more special than any other person in society. What concerns me, however, is the alarmingly high prevalence of psychological distress, anxiety and depression within the legal profession. One in three lawyers suffer from depression, and one in two law students will experience some degree of affect on their mental health whilst at law school. These numbers are extraordinary, and in need of urgent address.
But whilst the statistics are horrifying, it is the personal stories that hit me the hardest. I have witnessed the suffering and breakdown of friends, colleagues and classmates; I have seen new students coming through the ranks harbouring the same issues that those before them did, leading me to deduce that they are headed down the same paths; I have learned of unfathomable experiences that make me weepy with even a fleeting acknowledgment of their existence.
I am a lawyer who has come back from the brink. What I have gone through, and and what others have gone through, are thoughts, feelings and experiences that I wouldn’t wish on anybody. To wish the indescribable pain and suffering of depression upon another person would be, in my opinion, beyond cruel.
This self-help book for law students and young lawyers intends to achieve a twofold purpose: one, to detail the anecdotes, guidance and peer-supported learning of dozens of legal professionals whom have come before you, so that you can relate to and learn from their shared history; and two, to equip you with the practical tools necessary to prevent and manage any issues pertaining to your health and wellbeing in law. And whilst the book is targeted primarily at young legal professionals, there is no doubt that persons from other professional strands can learn a lot from the wisdom (from others, not me) to be found within.
In the case of The Legal Profession v Depression, the latter is winning. But there are so many strategies and solutions that we, as individual lawyers and collectively as an industry, can employ in order to look after ourselves and those around us. This is my case for change.
Whether you buy my book or not, I truly hope that you are able to find and utilise ways of proactively managing your health and wellbeing. By doing so, I believe you will be giving yourself the best possible change of being a productive, successful lawyer.