Alcoholic Attorney

debt-collector-madThe Lawyerist just posted a great article entitled “How to Stay Married to a Lawyer.”  Although the article is a form of marriage counseling, it really resonated with me as a person suffering from addiction. Our career choice is so emotionally draining that often our relationships suffer. Add alcoholism to the mix, and it’s a miracle that any marriage or relationship can survive! Here are a few great excerpts from the article:

One of the most prominent stressors I’ve noticed is that my husband constantly has people upset with him. There seems to be very little reward in the daily grind. He or she has clients who are hurting and confused, and they look to Brian to magically solve their ailments. Understandably, they are upset when he cannot fix their problems, or it takes a long time to fix their problems. Then, in court, he has opposing counsel and judges who seem to be upset with him (there probably isn’t anything personal there, but the nature of the courtroom is adversarial). So all day long, he deals with people being upset with him. It is like a glorified customer service representative position, which takes its toll on my husband.

Wow, can I relate to this especially in my litigation practice. It seems no one is ever happy with us. And getting some congratulations or recognition? Forget about it!

Most clients do not visit lawyers to share happy news. Inevitably, they come to us with a problem, and the client wants the lawyer to make it go away. Often, the cases we are working on have a lot at stake. This pressure is extremely stressful because so much of what we are expected to do is completely out of our control. A lawyer can prepare day and night, work around the clock, try his or her absolute best, and still lose. But lawyers are expected to deliver a win regardless of the lack of control a lawyer has over opposing counsel, her client, the judge, and the jury.

The lack of control piece has always been a huge issue for me generally and with my addiction. I used to get so high with the wins and so low with the losses, not realizing that in reality I really didn’t have any control over the outcome. Now, I just put in my very best effort and let the chips fall where they may. If I win, great. If I lose, I don’t jump off a bridge. Meetings and talking about this daily grind help a lot.

The article goes on to suggest mindfulness and acceptance. Hmmm, does that sound familiar to anyone in a recovery program? Anyways, the article is a great read.

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Just a quick note because I’m crazy busy at work preparing for a big jury trial starting next Monday.

I’ve been “stacking” up meetings — which around here means simply going to more meetings than usual for a particular reason. So I’ve been hitting around 5-6 meetings/ per week, up from my usual 3-4. My particular reason is that I’m under a lot of work stress due to an upcoming trial and that’s always been huge trigger for me. So I want to keep an even keel heading into my trial, and the meetings give me an opportunity both to decompress and to vent on being stressed out. You see, when I was young and stupid, I used to say “stress is not in my vocabulary.” But of course it was. I just didn’t know how to deal with it properly.

As I shared at a recent meeting, if I had lost a trial, I would have had a few drinks. But had I won, watch out — I would have drunk even more. I used alcohol as much, if not more, to “reward” myself for battling through stress or a successful outcome at work. Success was the trigger.

So now as a recovering person, I know what my major trigger situations are and I’m actively building up a defense to it. Pretty common sense stuff when you think about it.

Well, back to the trial preparation!

One day at a time,



With the nice summer weather upon us and the abundance of parties, I have been having a hard time. July 4th weekend was particularly difficult. A cold beer would have really hit the spot….

I’ve determined that my current program needs some changes. I’m going to get a new sponsor.  I have fallen out of touch with my current sponsor, plus he’s not the right match for me anyway.

I need to get back to regular therapy. I still have a lot of unresolved issues stemming from my upbringing and genetic makeup. No matter how much success I have or material goods I obtain, I have this hole in my soul or something that I need to fill with reward and recognition. The two mottos I most remember most in my household growing up was my dad’s “We don’t play to win, we play for blood” and my mom’s “Just get over it.” So that’s what I did. I was an assassin who killed and maimed the competition while simultaneously burying inside all negative feelings and emotions. Instead of killing the enemy, it turned on me, and I wound up destroying myself. I need to find some type of peace within my inner soul so I don’t feel the need to dull the pain.

I checked out a Smart Recovery meeting on Monday night, and I really liked it. It reminded me of the group sessions we did at Hazelden. A lot more constructive cognitive help than you get at a typical AA meeting. I will definitely go back.

I have become increasingly disenfranchised with AA. I love the fellowship but I still cannot get through some of the doctrine, especially God/Higher Power piece. I wish I could be more spiritual because I see how beneficial it is to people, but I can’t seem to get there without a huge internal debate and argument. Being a lawyer in recovery sucks sometimes. I love my friends in AA and I love the fellowship. So I will keep going to my 3-4 meetings a week.

Well, that’s about it. Feeling pretty shitty about it. Then I feel better. Then shitty. I just want to get it. Why is it so hard?



I came across this post in the Lawyerist today about how alcoholic attorneys are typically “high functioning.”

The author outlines some typical characteristics of “high-functioning” alcoholics:

  • Denial
  • Living a double life of inward feeling compared with outward image
  • Drinking habits including cravings and black-outs
  • Capable of staying employed and high academic achievement
  • Capable of sustained interpersonal relationships
  • Often able to work the system in legal matters relating to issues caused by drinking
  • Often hit bottoms, but are unable to recognize or admit the realities
  • Appear physically well-groomed.

Being a “high-functioning” alcoholic is a dangerous place to be in recovery. In my early sobriety, I spent too much time comparing myself with other drunks who were far less “screwed up” than me, instead of identifying with them. I should be grateful that I still have a loving wife and kids, my career intact and a home over my head. If I continue to drink, I won’t be so “high-functioning.” I will surely lose everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve.

One day at a time….



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