SOLICITORS have emerged from the recession suffering from acute alcohol dependency and cocaine addiction, and face being struck off for corruption.
These were the conclusions of participants at the Lawyers' Support Group September meeting in London.
Consultant psychologist Dr David Craggs, who deals with lawyers suffering from drug or alcohol dependency (or both), told the group: “We expected to see an epidemic of cocaine addiction among lawyers in this country some years ago after it started in the US, but it did not come.
“But now there is increasing evidence of a growing problem among lawyers,” he says
Lawyers are, on average, 55 per cent more likely to die of cirrhosis of the liver than other people.
He supported Law Society President Charles Elly's call for a formal programme of support to be established by the Bar and the society.
Under the plan, alcoholic lawyers would be reported to the Law Society, told to kick the bottle or be struck off and monitored to ensure they do.
In a speech to the support group, Elly hit out at the “ostriches” who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the damage done to the profession by alcoholic lawyers.
“It is possible to look the other way and to pray and hope the problem melts away without too much embarrassment. This ostrich-like attitude is common,” he said.
But he added: “Alcoholism is a disease and sufferers need treatment, help and support.”
“Requests for help on coping with a solicitor with a serious drink problem are sometimes dealt with confidentially by the Professional Ethics Division of the Law Society.
“Eleven requests for help where there has been a clear and serious alcohol problem have been dealt with so far this year – more than one a month.”
(See Chambers, page 7)