Wyoming Program Assists Lawyers With Alcohol Abuse, Depression

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Job-related depression becomes more common in america with each passing day.There are programs to help with this for most professions. In Wyoming no field needs one more than law.
The numbers are large because of the stress only 30 percent of Wyoming lawyers said they would do it all over again but a new program is aimed towards changing that.
Over 60 percent of Wyoming lawyers experience unhealthy amounts of stress according to a life satisfaction survey.
Board members of the Wyoming lawyer assistance program say those lawyers don't ask for help because lawyers are just regular people.
WYLAP Board Member John Masterson said, "While we may have more education than some people, i don't think it means that we are smarter."
In fact one Casper attorney says earning a law degree doesn't prepare you to handle the daily struggles of a life in court.
Casper Attorney Dallas Laird said, "People get out of law school and they're not what i would call a lawyer."
Laird has been practicing law for 43 years and over that time he has learned to put his problems aside and focus.
Laird said, "It's like the old Wyoming adage, you get her done. You know you just have to do it. But we have repercussions if we don't do it."
The two of the most prominent of those being self-doubt and a lot of unanswered questions
Masterson said, "What should i have done to help? Should i have said this? Should i have said that? Had i done this argument? And it doesn't end."
When those questions never stop it can break even the most rational minds.
While 24 percent of Wyoming lawyers admit to turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with their stress, they don't necessarily think that stat is unique to lawyers.
Laird said, "If they would've become a doctor or a police man or something i think they would still have the same issue."
But they are lawyers and they need help WYLAP's goal is to provide that help without causing pain.
Masterson said, "There's no stigma attached to it, where you don't lose face, where your reputation isn't hurt, you're not disciplined, if you proactively seek help."
Laird agrees that is exactly how lawyers can assist lawyers
Laird said, "That's like extending a helping hand, and saying we will help you. We are not going to slap you."
The only question now is whether they will reach out and grab that helping hand.
Now the survey also shows 57 percent of Wyoming lawyers only come to work for their pay check WYLAP hopes to see that number decrease over the years.