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MCBA President’s Message: Programs help lawyers handle stress, problems

mcbaprezI have previously written that starting salaries at big law firms have continued to rise, as has the pressure to hit the ground running and to commit an ever-larger number of hours to the practice. At the same time, law school debt is at a record high. I have also noted that technology has made legal practice faster and more effective, but also more demanding with 24/7 accessibility to our clients. And more young lawyers than ever seem to be hanging out their own shingle and practicing law without a more senior lawyer mentoring them as they make the transition from academia to the rough and tumble world of practicing law.

All of these factors add stress to the practicing lawyer. Research shows that lawyers’ own dissatisfaction with our profession is at record highs as lawyers attempt to achieve work-life balance amid these increasing demands and stresses.

At the same time, initiatives to move court dockets faster and faster, while desirable for the more efficient administration of justice (“justice delayed can be justice denied”) again only increase the demands and stress on the practicing lawyer.

While networking with your colleagues at our events and sharing common experiences, common issues and solutions is a time-honored way to relieve that stress, the MCBA has a number of programs that go further in addressing the common problems and stresses of practicing law.

The MCBA has long had a Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers program, started by Dean Fero and now led by Terry Emmens, to confidentially help lawyers and judges struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.

More recently through the efforts of Brad Kammholz, Steve Modica, and others, a health and well-being program was initiated to help with issues of stress, depression, anxiety, and overall wellness. These efforts include a partnership with Tree of Hope Counseling, where attorneys in the 7th Judicial District can receive confidential help by calling 585-353-1541. Thanks to grants from the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar and U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, cost will not be an issue for those who call.

In addition, SOLACE (Support Of Lawyers, All Concern Encouraged) is a program run by Paul Leclair (solace@mcba.org) that is designed to engage the legal profession’s vast networks of contacts to assist others when sudden needs arise as a result of sudden catastrophic event, injury, or illness.

Each of these programs was created because of the unique demands of the legal profession, regardless of whether you’re newly admitted, mid-career, or a seasoned attorney. These programs give substance to the notion that we live in a community of fellow professionals who truly care about each other’s well-being. If you know of someone who could use help, even if it’s just someone to talk to in a time of anxiety, I urge you to take advantage of the MCBA’s confidential assistance programs.

Mark J. Moretti is President of the Monroe County Bar Association and is the leader of Phillips Lytle LLP’s Construction Litigation Practice Team. He can be reached at mmoretti@phillipslytle.com.

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