The Norman Transcript

Opinion

April 30, 2013

Helping the wounded trial warrior

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Perlman has his choice of clients. He recently told me that the most important thing to him is becoming friends with his clients and staying friends long after the case is over.

It’s easy to wind up with a client who is demanding, difficult and a constant stressor. It’s also easy to have cash flow and financial issues. Trial lawyers, like many professionals, have a hard time telling people they don’t have money. Since I help a lot of attorneys with their finances, I see the true picture. Many have high overhead and the stress of keeping a high profile with a low bankroll.

Trial lawyers have issues with depression, stress and mental illness far higher than the average population. It’s the nature of the career and the type of person who is attracted to it.

The other thing that trial lawyers don’t do well: ask for help.

Many states, such as my own state of Kentucky, have excellent programs set up to help people with substance abuse. Other attorneys have a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous in turning their lives around.

The issues that cause a person to commit suicide are not always triggered by substance abuse. Sometimes people get in the grips of depression so badly that they are not able to get help.

If you know one of them, love on them or kick them on the backside until they get professional help.

I went through a rough situation several years ago where my mom and sister died and my marriage ended all during a six-month period. I was way too “macho” to see a psychologist, but also at a point where I had stopped going to work or communicating.

My dear friend, Al Smith, a 50-year veteran of AA and all other kinds of support programs, stayed on me until I saw a shrink. Slowly, I got my life back together. My psychologist and I eventually agreed that I had a handle on my issues.

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