Vol. 81, No. 10, October
Inside the Bar
They Already Know
If you need help handling life
stresses, don't try hiding your problems from your friends or
colleagues. They probably already know. Instead, call the trained
volunteers at WisLAP. They're ready 24/7 now to help judges as well as
students, and their families.
George C. Brown,
State Bar executive director
Lawyers are fixers. No, not in the slimy, offensive way that those
who deride the profession would like people to think.
Lawyers fix problems for other people. Whether a hard-charging litigator
or a soft-spoken,
detail-focused transactional lawyer, a lawyer's professional obligation
puts him or her
in the position of working to solve problems for other people.
Solving others' problems brings with it a certain level of
stress. While much
work with the law can be routine, the upset divorce client, the unhappy
or the angry taxpayer are all too often visitors in lawyers' offices.
They may leave
satisfied, or at least with a solution, but the lawyer continues to
carry the stress of
the situation. In addition, because lawyers solve others' problems,
often lawyers believe,
as other people do, that they, and only they, can and should solve their
Life events can produce stress, and people have different
abilities to handle
the tension often caused by stress. Tension-reducing behaviors can be
with friends or family; exercise; or a drink, another drink, and maybe
still another. We
might resort to drugs, whether legal or illegal. Too much stress for too
long also can
result in depression or other emotional difficulties.
Although we don't like to think it, judges are just as likely as
maybe even more likely, to suffer from stress-related difficulties.
While lawyers may
advocate on behalf of a client, it is the judge who makes the decision
that ultimately, and
maybe permanently, affects the client's life. And although lawyers often
members of the community, far more people usually
recognize a judge and will be witness to
any missteps the judge may take. When seeking help to overcome a
problem, judges not
only hold the same tendencies for self-reliance and aversion to seeking
help as lawyers,
they also face a higher risk of exposure for seeking such help.
This is why the State Bar sponsors the Wisconsin Lawyer
(WisLAP), and why the State Bar, with the support and encouragement of
the courts, has created
the Judicial Assistance Program.
The lawyer and the judicial assistance programs work the same
way. If you need
help, or know of someone who needs help, whether a lawyer, a judge, a
law student, or a
member of their family, call the 24-hour confidential helpline at (800)
contact Linda Albert, LCSW, CSAC, the WisLAP coordinator at (800)
944-9404, ext. 6172. Linda is
a licensed clinical social worker and a certified substance abuse
has trained volunteer lawyers and judges in how to address situations
and they are
prepared to assist you. Lawyers talk to lawyers and judges talk to
judges. Lawyer volunteers
received their biannual training in late September, and the first
training for judges
will take place in January 2009.
If you know someone with a problem, talk with them, get them to
call WisLAP. Or
call on their behalf. If you have a problem, call. Don't try to tough it
out. It will
probably just get worse. And don't think you're hiding it from your
friends or colleagues.
They probably already know.