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
  • Dancing forward

    The official motto for Mike Fowler’s chairmanship of the Norman Chamber of Commerce is “Moving Norman Forward.” But after Thursday night’s annual banquet, the sub-theme should be, “Let’s Dance, Norman.” More than 500 chamber members and ...

    April 19, 2014

  • NRA members need to step up

    Please, Mr. Bloomberg, leave the checkbook open, but step away from the podium. Your efforts to curb gun violence and improve safety are notable. The National Rifle Association thanks you....

    April 19, 2014

  • Local control or not?

    Oklahoma lawmakers are a fickle bunch when it comes to issues of local control. Sometimes they want it and other times they do not....

    April 19, 2014

  • Norman should act wisely

    Editor, The Transcript: The fact that the city of Norman sells water for oil/gas drilling (or any other purpose) for less than half what they pay Oklahoma City when buying water, and while Norman residents are on rationing, is an act of ...

    April 18, 2014

  • There’s no need to fix system that’s working

    Lawmaker attempts to alter the way judges are selected are being challenged by the state’s lawyers. More than 1,800 signatures on a state bar association petition urging a “no” vote on Senate Joint Resolution 21 have been gathered in just ...

    April 18, 2014

  • On the side of openness

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has been criticized for failing to release emails and other information sought by press outlets who believe it was covered under the state’s Open Records Act. Now, Fallin is coming down on the side of keeping the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • A raise for troopers, but what about others?

    Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers could see an increase in their paychecks during the state’s next fiscal year, which begins in July....

    April 17, 2014

  • Fallin should help residents

    Editor, The Transcript: I see this week that our empty skirt of a governor asked the federal government (small business administration) for much money. She is concerned about the suffering of the business owners in Lexington and Purcell ...

    April 17, 2014

  • Top honors for NPS

    Top honors keep rolling in for both of Norman’s high schools. The district learned this past week that Norman High School and Norman North High School have been recognized as two of the most rigorous high schools in the country and in the ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Wind power bursting

    There are a few wind generators dotting the Norman skyline, but western and northwestern Oklahoma makes up for the deficit here. An industry group this week said Oklahoma ranks fourth nationally in the amount of wind-generated ...

    April 16, 2014