The Full Weight of the Law: How Legal Professionals Can Recognize and Rebound from Depression

The Full Weight of the Law: How Legal Professionals Can Recognize and Rebound from Depression

  • ISBN: 9781634259705

ISBN: 978-1-63425-970-5

Product Code: 5110814


Read R. Lisle Baker's[1] in-depth review of The Full Weight of the LawHow 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.[2]

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.

[1] 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.

[2] ABA National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change (Aug. 2017).


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Item Details:
Law students and lawyers report having a significantly higher rate of depression than the general population. When untreated, depression affects lawyers and their clients, families, friends, and colleagues. In addition to the effects of mental health conditions on lawyers’ lives, the same disorders...
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Product Reviews 5 out of 5  (1 Reviews)
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Carole A Levitt Dec 4, 2017 Report Abuse
The authors of this book state that "Rates of depression in the United States among the general population of adults is about seven percent." They go on to explain that this rate is the same for law students before entering law school BUT by the time they graduate, it rises to 40%. For medical school grads, the rate is 12.9%. The book then focuses on lawyers and depression, how to spot depression and what to do about it. This book is not just for lawyers and law students. It's important that anyone who deals with lawyers and law students read this book--from law school administrators, to law professors and HR departments, to law librarians, etc. I serve on the ABA LP Publications Advisory Board and I don't make it a habit to write reviews of LP books. But this is such an important topic that I decided to recommend it, especially in light of reading a Dec 1, 2017 article in about student leaders from 13 of the nation’s top law schools who have pledged to broaden mental health initiatives on their campuses and to fight the stigma of seeking treatment.
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