What's worse than being unemployed after graduating from law school with $120K of debt?
Being laid off when you're over 50! Apparently, lawyers are offing themselves left and right because they cannot deal with the desparation that comes with trying to live outside the legal industry, while nearing the sunset of their careers.
The first lawyer suicide I heard about was back in May of 2009. Mark Levy was a successful attorney, aged 59, of counsel to Kilpatrick Stockton. He had argued successfully in front of the Supreme Court. He was an attorney that his alma mater, Yale, could be proud of. He lived in the wealthy suburbs of D.C. (I think it was either Potomac or Bethesda). I didn't know him--but I think he had class because he carefully plotted his revenge when he was tossed out like yesterday's trash by Kilpractick Stockton. Rather than gassing himself in the garage or hanging himself in the basement, thereby punishing his family, who had nothing do with Kilpatrick's bad behavior, he drove into work and shot himself in his office. I had to say a little rah rah sis boom bah for the guy. He certainly got his point across. Although I'm very sad for his family--I'm sure that KS will think long and hard about who they fire in the future. At least, I hope they do.
So, today, I am surfing the web and I find this article about about a Connecticut Real Estate Attorney, aged 64, James F. Ripper. Real Estate was the crux of his solo practice, a firm he called Real Estate Resources, LLC. Apparently, he had done well for years and did not so much as have a grievance filed against him until the Great Recession--at which time he dipped into client money in the amount of $125,000. He hung himself at home. His poor family. I really feel badly for them.
Well... I can't say that I would ever commit suicide in such a proactive manner. If it ever came to that, I think I'd starve myself to death. Much less violence involved. People are bound to judge these two men based on their choice to quit rather than persevere, but what these men did is not a testament to their character. They were both highly regarded in their respective communities. Instead, it's a huge statement as to the mindset of an older attorney faced with a crumbling practice or being laid off a few years away from retirement. One would think that these two could coast until retirement kicks in. But you have to understand the psyche of attorneys. Being an attorney is so much more than a job. It's a career, a mindset, pride and self-worth. And to have the rug pulled out from under you when you are in the alleged prime of your career is crushing and gut wrenching.
The impotent and ineffectual ABA is feigning concern:
"Suicide among lawyers has long been documented to occur two to six times as often as in the general population, according to the American Bar Association. And recessionary times are not helping. Earlier this year, the ABA offered a free online program to members that focused on preventing suicides during a bad economy."
If you know or suspect that someone close to you is suffering from depression. Act now. Many of the pillars of our society are fraught with cracks, and you can never tell who is on the brink of crumbling.