(The following text is out of a paper entitled Law and Science: A Necessary Partnership that Bob Allston delivered to University of Florida College of Law Dean Richard Matasar on 9/17/96 during a sit-in in his office in which Allston was arrested protesting the legal system.)
According to an article in the 3/1/95 Florida Bar News entitled "Facing the Facts About Depression in the Profession", lawyers suffer seriously with mental problems nationwide. Some findings: (1), Lawyers rank first in depression out of 105 professions surveyed; three times higher than the general population. (2), 25 percent of lawyers suffer from psychological distress. (3), In 1984, 14 percent of male and 20 percent of female lawyers were dissatisfied with their work. By 1990, only six years later, double this number in both categories were dissatisfied (the current figures were not given). (4) A disproportionate number of lawyers commit suicide. (5) Substance abuse is a factor in up to 80 percent of complaints. (6), the legal profession is doing practically nothing about these problems.
Although these figures were generally nationwide in scope, if Florida follows the national pattern, the profession appears to have the most mental problems of all the professions which it prefers to sweep under the rug rather than face up to and address. However this can't help but be very detrimental to the legal profession's performance in serving both private and public sectors. Who wants to pay $150/hr. for professional advice from a lawyer or anyone else when there is a significant chance they will be suffering from depression and if they don't have depression, a one and four chance they will be suffering from psychological distress, and if not that, a one in three chance they don't like their work and if not that, an apparently significant chance they will be on drugs; and of course they could have any combination of these problems.
ROLE OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES:
Clearly the psychological, sociological and economic aspects and implications of this matter need study and documentation in order to proceed with it; for the few percentages and data available appear far higher than what could be considered insignificant by any measure. Equally clearly, the resources to study the issue are readily available but as the article brings out are not being utilized.
I should think it possible that all the problems addressed in this paper as well as many that aren't may be contributing factors. What decent person would feel comfortable working in a legal profession that doesn't reach half the population, that is forced to adhere to the profession's corrupt "conspiracy of silence", that is destroying families, that is stacking masses of people up in jails, etc.
Again the issue goes back to the fundamental point that the public gave the legal profession its very priviliged position in our society and in return has every right to expect it to give the public the best service it can in return.