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Why Do Lawyers Drink So Much?

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

Maybe it's the high stress or the long hours but whatever the reason, it's clear that lawyers as a group drink more than other professions.

Part of it is probably culture. Lawyers spend excessively long hours at the office and generally make a comfortable salary so they can afford to buy a few rounds of booze. Unlike doctors or pilots who have to be awake and alert in the morning, no one will die if you show up to a corporate legal job hungover - although it may cost you your job in the long run.

Law school is also full of free booze and happy hours. Alcohol flows freely among the courthouse crowd. But perhaps the real answer is a little more serious.

First the facts: at least 13 percent of lawyers are alcoholics based on a survey of how many drinks they have each day, reports Law Crossing. In the general population that number is around seven percent.

When it comes to discipline, as many as a third of lawyers who are on disciplinary probation in California are also being monitored for substance abuse.

There's lot of speculation about why lawyers are more disposed to substance abuse.

Some suspect it's because of the job itself, as shown by this answer on Quora. Practicing law is stressful and requires constant public performance in trial or before clients. The hard work means drinking can be a comfort or a reward.

Many lawyers also report being dissatisfied with their jobs, unhealthy, and depressed. That would lead most people to seek an escape which alcohol provides.

It could also be that people who become lawyers are just predisposed to alcoholism and addiction.

Law does tend to attract type-A personalities which means high achievers who are anxious and put pressure on themselves to succeed. That can trigger substance abuse issues or make it more likely that lifestyle stress will lead to drinking too much.

Under that theory it's not that law makes people drink, it's that people who are likely to drink too much are also likely to be lawyers.

At the end of the day, the reasons for it are secondary to the fact that lawyers often do drink too much. If you or someone you work with is struggling with alcoholism the Bar Association is well equipped to help. Check out the ABA's Attorney Assistance Program before addiction ruins your career.

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