Product Code: 5110814
Read R. Lisle Baker's in-depth review of The Full Weight of the Law – How Legal Professionals Can Recognize and Rebound from Depression:
Shawn Healy, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Fortgang, Ph.D. have written a short but very important book on how law students and lawyers can recognize, sometimes avoid, and even rebound from depression.
The authors have written alternating chapters with helpful citations to the articles or research on which they base their conclusions. The most effective components of the book, however, are the real or composite case studies of lawyers who very well might be its readers, or those they care about. The authors talk about distinguishing depression from similar but different conditions lawyers can encounter, such as grief, burnout and compassion fatigue. They also discuss alcoholism and even suicide. They conclude with a discussion of common depression triggers and ways to respond to them.
If there is an over-riding prescription that emerges from these pages it is that other people can help those lawyers who experience depression, and that early intervention is better than letting things slide.
If there were one aspect of the book that would strengthen it further, it would be more emphasis on prevention through some of the recent learning of positive psychology – the evidenced based study of how people can thrive – as well as respond to difficulty. The book explores some of this learning, including resilience, but not nearly as deeply as it discusses remediation. This emphasis is understandable, though it is good to see the ABA responding to lawyer well-being more formally.
Nonetheless, for all attorneys who have experienced emotional difficulty (or will do so, as professional life has both ups and downs) this is a very useful book, both for self-care and for those we care about. Read it while things are going well, so you will be prepared when they do not, either for you or for a friend. You don’t wait to buy fire insurance until a fire breaks out.
R. Lisle Baker is a Professor of Law at Suffolk Law School in Boston, Massachusetts and, in addition to his law degree from Harvard Law School, earned a Master of Applied Positive Psychology degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016.