President’s Message: The Blessing of Friendship - By Kerri Anderson Donica

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Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

We had an incredible time in Austin for our Voir Dire seminar and board meetings! Under the leadership of Sam Bassett, Carmen Roe and John Hunter Smith, we created a fresh seminar format that involved breakout groups, demonstrations of effective voir dire and had our participants conduct voir dire! We are constantly striving to find new, innovative ways to offer our TCDLA lawyers to better represent the citizen accused. This was a great example of that, and I hope all our lawyer attendees and presenters left with a few more arrows in their quivers!

This year, we are focusing on mental health—ours as well as the mental health of our clients. Keep following the website, the Voice, and the listserve to learn of exciting opportunities for having an impact on your client’s signals regarding problems—whether it is addiction, depression, or any other condition that affects his or her ability to avoid legal problems. We need to also be mindful of our own issues affecting mental health. We continue to see our friends and colleagues in the legal community deciding to end their lives rather than dealing with the struggles. Lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than nonlawyers, according to the American Psychological Association. Substance abuse rates within the legal profession are also much higher than for the general population. Clinical depression and substance abuse are highly correlated with suicide rates. The legal industry has the 11th-highest incidence of suicide among professions. I’d guess that number may be even higher for those of us who represent people who face not just the loss of money in a lawsuit, but also the reality of prison and the loss of everything and everyone they love.

Bottom line—be good to each other. Reach out to that lawyer who seems to be struggling or hurting or drowning in depression or drugs or alcohol. Be sensitive and make sure you’re also taking care of yourself. We will be offering some great opportunities to learn how to be better, healthier, financially stable lawyers.

You guys are all so important to me, and I thank God almost daily for the friendships and collegiality and sound legal advice I’ve gleaned because of so many of you. Can’t wait to see many of you at upcoming seminars—and of COURSE at our Sexual Assault seminar (commanded by the likes of Heather Barbieri and Jeff Kearney) and board meeting in Dallas in December!

Fall is in the air! Enjoy!