Lawyer Distress LevelsD
Depression Alcoholism Psych.
Lawyers & Alcoholism
The American Bar Association estimates 15% to 20% of
lawyers suffer from alcoholism and substance abuse.
The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission reports
that substance abuse is a factor in 50% of the disciplinary
cases that come before them.
“The Other Bar” has been created in California to provide 12
Step meetings for addicted lawyers. They have 32 different
meetings listed on their website.
"No problem can be solved from the
same level of consciousness that
2 models of consciousness
7 Levels and Spiral Dynamics
Stages in the Development Personal
Spiral Dynamics is the work of
Dr Clare Graves, developed
further by Don Beck.
Where do you think your level of
consciousness might be at?
You are unique.
Lawyers solving problems at a
different level of consciousness
EXAMPLE 1: Sheena St Clair Jonker
• Sexual abuse case involving a minor
• Mother of 17 year old consulted
• The woman’s husband and girl’s
stepfather was accused of sexually
abusing her btw ages 13 to 16.
• Only 2 witnesses – the girl and the
• Psychiatric reports corroborate that
she was abused.
Results of Restorative Justice Process
1. He has agreed to a lifelong no contact order and an interdict in terms of the Domestic
Violence Act, Prevention of Harassment Act and other law. The no contact order extends
to her immediate family and future spouse and employers
2. He has agreed that he may not apply for or take up any jobs working with minor children
3. He has agreed that if he breaches any part of the agreement, in addition to
consequences that flow from the breach of the relevant interdicts, he will, by agreement
be enrolled on the sexual offences register.
4. It was agreed that although the agreement could not bind the prosecution, the defence
could use it to make submission on withdrawal of charges/ stay of prosecution
5. He has agreed to bind himself to a therapeutic process which, I will, by consent have
access to reports on for a predetermined period
6. He has admitted that he has caused irreparable harm and that he abused a position of power.
(His admission for the purpose of the RJ process and on record does not constitute an
unequivocal confession on all elements of the crime that could be used to support a conviction
on the charges. This was a compromise reached)
Example 2: Laly Mourenon, Monaco
Case of house ownership dispute
between father and son
“Bringing psychology into a case and
thinking of the dynamic of the
relationship (especially Freud,
Karpmann) helped me understand one
thing: to win my client had to let go.
Clearly not something lawyers are
willing to do usually!”
Results of the father/ son conflict
• The father missed the relationship with his son – even though it
was full of conflict.
• The son moved on emotionally as he finally felt free of his father.
• The son refused to re-engage in the conflict dynamics.
• The father eventually willingly and spontaneously signed the deed
of the house and offered it to his son.
“A whole brand new relationship had begun and I am pretty
sure: had the son fought for the asset in court , they would still
be in court as of today.”
Example 3: Drug Courts: Judge Peggy Hora
Average person convicted in drug court
– is committing about 400 crimes a
People say “we can’t afford drug
courts” Peggy says “you can’t afford
not to” – in terms of the amount of
court time, the effect on families and
In California they save $90 million a
year by having drug courts.
An emerging jurisprudence:
“the overarching purpose of our
professional work is shifting from
winning legal victories to providing
meaningful conflict resolution
services for our clients, what kind of
person the lawyer is matters equally
as much as the power of the lawyer’s
Pauline Tesler, Director of the Integrative Law
Institute in San Francisco
The Centre for Integrative Law
SAILA – South African Integrative
WOLELA – Women Leading in Law
Finding New Ways for Women to Lead in
Law (annual conference)
The path is laid in SA for a legal system
embracing higher values
our Constitutional court acknowledges the value of restorative
justice – has said an apology is often more important than a
We have the guiding principle of UBUNTU in constitution
In African Customary Law - public apology & reparation to victims
& community was necessary. Focus was never retributive.
Therefore process would need to rehabilitate the offender by
matter of course.
We don’t have problem solving court culture – but we do have
sexual offences court and Child justice courts
What does this require of you?
1. We need to take care of ourselves. Physically, intellectually, emotionally and
2. Manage our stress levels
3. Be curious to learn more about ourselves.
4. Know that our own world view is just one of many.
5. Think about coaching, or even therapy.
6. Take a course in Spiral Dynamics, or Creative/ Lateral Thinking or in Negotiation
Skills, Conflict Management, Neuroscience, Family Dynamics
7. Reflect on why you were drawn to the profession in the first place.
8. Talk to others about tricky cases and see what views they may hold
9. Don’t get trapped in the billable hour cycle of not being able to stop chopping the tree
to sharpen the axe. Take time out.
10. Write on your wall: The Longest Journey you will ever make is the journey from your
head to your heart.
“And every day, the world will drag you by
the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this
is important! And this is important! You need
to worry about this! And this! And this!”
And each day, it’s up to you to yank your
hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No.
This is what’s important.”