Story 2: Why I’m Glad I Called JLAP
I’m an attorney and I see a therapist. There, I said it! And was it that hard? Of course, which is why this confession is being brought to you via my nom de plume, Anonymous Legal Eagle, or “Ale.” I’m here to discuss two things – what brought me to a therapist, and why I will not reveal my name to you, dear fellow attorneys.
First, I was having a career crisis and needed unflinching advice from someone – anyone! I have been practicing between five and fifty years, and practice in a city with at least one other lawyer, which should narrow things down for those who will try to figure out who I am. I enjoyed certain aspects of what I do, but questioned the wisdom of staying put in a profession where we routinely eat our young (more on that below.) I felt drained, unhappy, stifled, and generally dissatisfied with my profession, and consequently, my life as a whole.
I knew about ARJLAP for some time, but was suspicious about whether my name or even snippets of frank conversations would be revealed to some employer, a committee, the Bar Association or even the Supreme Court. How independent and trustworthy was this organization and the therapists? I have come to find out that the therapists at ARJLAP are independent and trustworthy, and understand the unique demands and idiosyncrasies of our daily lives and interactions with others. I only wish I had asked for help earlier – my relationship with my ex-partner would have benefited tremendously from this level of insight. Who knows? We might still be together (and keep in mind that the word “partner” has several connotations.)
The good news to report is that the therapist I am working with has helped me through what may be the roughest patch I’ve endured since becoming a lawyer. I now work someplace which suits my professional needs, but also fulfills other aspects of my psyche. Would I have been able to reach this level of happiness and satisfaction without the assistance of ARJLAP (or any therapist)? I would like to think that smart lawyers like me (and aren’t we all smart?) can resolve all of our own personal issues just fine, thank you. But I am doubtful that I would have done so in a way that didn’t ultimately take an enormous, and harmful, emotional and physical toll on me, or that I could have reached this measure of happiness in such a relatively short amount of time. So, this portion of the public service announcement is to let fellow attorneys know that ARJLAP is for everyone, regardless of what ails you.
The second portion of my mini-rant is to address why we, as a profession, are skittish about seeking help. During my journey, I couldn’t talk to my friends in the profession about my dissatisfaction and disillusionment because one day, my friend would be my opponent and there is a very thin line between your friends and your enemies in our world. Aren’t we trained to exploit our opponent’s weaknesses? Also, in our close-knit brotherhood, gossip about each other is a form of brutal entertainment. None of this bodes well for those who need help. I understand the suspicions that we attorneys would have about a group that claims to offer us confidential assistance – for free. And that’s why I am writing this open letter, at the risk of someone finding out my true identity (but not in the Superman/Clark Kent sense). But, like I said, I do believe we are our brothers’ keepers, and this is my small contribution to our profession in the hopes that someone who does need help reaches out. ARJLAP will be there for you.