The Norman Transcript

Opinion

April 30, 2013

Helping the wounded trial warrior

NORMAN — “Shooting at the walls of heartache, bang, bang, I am the warrior.”

— Patty Smyth

I got the news that a friend killed himself. One of several lately. All of them middle-aged men. All of them trial lawyers.

Shannon Ragland, who publishes the must read Kentucky Trial Court Review, noted the rash of suicides and one of his readers posted an article from the American Bar Association Journal noting that, “lawyers’ personalities contribute to suicide risks.”

The suicide risk is especially high for trial lawyers. All personality tests tell me why I work in a profession where I assist trial lawyers. I am a fighter for causes and nothing gets in my way. I am intensely competitive, have a quick temper, rack up insane office hours and go through periods of extreme burnout.

In other words, I have the identical personality of a middle-aged trial lawyer.

I see how they suffer from depression, mental illness and suicide. Many more cope with stress and depression with drinking, drugs or other addictions.

Trial lawyers have a unique caveat to their job. They are always making someone mad. Oftentimes, like Atticus Finch’s character in Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” they can find that their entire community has turned against them. The stress of being a trial warrior can take a constant toll on a lawyer, a toll that sometimes ends in suicide.

I’m in the process of writing a long piece about Peter Perlman, one of the nation’s greatest trial attorneys. You will see the feature next month, but Perlman, a former President of the American Trial Lawyers Association, manages to stay on top of his game after 50 years of trial practice.

Pete has a solid foundation that many of my friends lack. He has been married to his college sweetheart for many years. A star athlete in college and high school, Perlman works out daily and looks 20 years younger than his age. Although no one prepares for a trial with more intensity than Pete does, he manages to find ways to keep his stress level down.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Improving children’s lives

    Social service organizations that have long-term debt for their headquarters and operating needs often spend much of their fundraising efforts meeting those obligations....

    July 29, 2014

  • Nutritional article should be accurate

    I read with interest the July 13 article “Are low-carb diets really healthy?” by Cassidie Day. Unfortunately, a number of statements in this article were incorrect. The first problematic statement was, “Carbs are an essential nutrient ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Hospital story headline was too sensationalized

    Editor, The Transcript: On July 18, The Transcript ran a front page article with the headline “Lawsuit filed against Norman Regional — Civil suit alleges improper billing practices by NRH and contracted physicians groups.” As a first page ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Congress should close gaps

    Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens. In ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Border obsession overlooks trade

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently by ordering 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. This bravado comes at a price: $12 million a month. Perry plans to send the bill the federal government. That’s one way to finance your ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Intercession badly needed in this world

    Yesterday was my feast day, or as the Italians call it, my “onomastico.” Since I live in the United States, it went completely unnoticed. If I lived in Italy, however, I would have been showered with cards and phone calls. That’s because ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Help better than commentary

    For the last seven years, I have helped run Hands Helping Paws, an animal welfare and rescue group that fosters Norman’s abandoned animals and advocates for spay and neuter initiatives to reduce our community’s problems with stray and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Stick to the sports

    Editor, The Transcript: Why must we, especially us nice conservatives, be subjected to political commentary in a sports column? I hear/view Fox News routinely and find their coverage quite acceptable. I also hear/view CNN and MSNBC. I ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Corporation Commission should should evaluate quakes, fracturing

    Editor, The Transcript: Is your house at risk of being damaged in an earthquake because of fracking? Maybe. We’ve seen more earthquakes and tremors in Oklahoma seven months into 2014 than in the two previous years combined. At the same ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Norman can stop fracking before it escalates

    Editor, The Transcript: There are 163 fracked wells within Norman city limits. With growing attention to health and safety concerns, the city is considering changes to the existing oil and gas ordinance....

    July 27, 2014