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“I think my lawyer has a drug addiction problem! “

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“Mr. Beaver, our small trucking company is involved in litigation due to an accident.

“The lawyer appointed to represent us by our insurance company was great – at first – but recently we haven’t been able to reach him. He doesn’t answer phone calls, but when we talk to him he looks sick or drunk, and he missed a court appearance! After these issues I searched for it and found similar complaints. What should we do? How can this be avoided? – Worried in Atlanta.

We all know the old adage that “It takes one to know one.”

For our purposes, “We need a old, impaired lawyer to help a, ”said former San Francisco-based lawyer David Mann. Like so many people in the counseling field, he had his own addiction issues, which prompted him to resign from the California bar after 12 years of practicing law. Today, as an addiction specialist, he works for The Other Bar, a nonprofit that helps California lawyers solve addiction issues.

“Dennis, 20% of practicing lawyers are alcoholics, compared to almost 12% in the general population. So your readers have a 1 in 5 chance of hiring an alcoholic lawyer – a risk to them and their case.

“Depression affects 6.7% of the American population, but over 28% of lawyers experience depression in their career. In addition, drug addiction among lawyers is much higher than in the general population. “

“So, what explains this?” I asked Mann.

“In general, law is not a helping hand like health care. Globally, many lawyers are not primarily concerned with doing the right thing, but must focus on power, gain, and money, as they are tasked with aggressively defending their clients. The law rewards very assertive people, and meanness is a quality that lawyers, in general, seem to be made for. Sometimes being in moral bankruptcy helps you be successful.

“So many people go to law school without a clue of the ethical and moral challenges they will face, find out the reality, burn themselves out and turn to alcohol or drugs.”

Mann lists questions clients should ask that could lead to “red flags” suggesting that a lawyer is weakened and suffers from drug addiction.

1. Does the lawyer seem reluctant to meet in person and does not have a real office? Is your lawyer chronically late and repeatedly delaying the case?

2. Do they want to meet at a Starbucks to sign a service contract? This may be because the lawyer doesn’t have an office or is embarrassed to show the client the mess his office reveals.

3. Do they only have an answering service instead of a real human taking phone calls? Also, when you call, do you only receive voicemail, never the real lawyer, leave a message and not receive a return call?

4. If several lawyers have rejected your case and this one is ready to take it, as long as you pay it suggests the avocado is hungry or broke. Or both!

5. If someone is available before 2:00 pm but not after, has they had their lunch? A lawyer who has substance abuse issues deals with drug addiction – it is the main focus of his life – and is available at times and not at others.

Mann emphasizes: “As attorney-client relationships often last for decades, it is important to pay attention to anything that goes wrong. changes. ” It lists the things that should set off alarms:

1. If you receive an SMS that says “Please use text only to communicate with me”. Maybe it is because the lawyer is drunk, and it would be revealed their speech.

2. If they used to return your calls quickly and now it takes many tries. When you talk on the phone, do they flout their words?

3. To his appearance, his personal grooming or his hygiene changed for the worse? Does their personality seem to have a pendulum swing, on a pleasant day, an impatient day, or does he show up and smell of alcohol, has his eyes bloodshot and his mouth? drink ?

So, if a client is in this situation, what should be done? Mann responded in one word: Confrontation.

“Send a text and say you’re going to call at 5 o’clock.” See if they are acting responsibly. If their staff seem to be covering them up, just say directly to the secretary, “Is there another lawyer in the office that I can talk to – it seems my case is not being handled well.” Is he sick? ‘

“Error on the side of caution!” Don’t hesitate to ask the lawyer, “I’m worried about you. You do not look well. You are not the same lawyer you were a year ago.

Do not sink with the ship. Make it your business to find out what’s going on.

Don’t be afraid to change lawyers! If you think do you see something, you see something.

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