Eilene Zimmerman’s moving article in the NY Times this weekend about the death of her attorney ex-husband is receiving a lot of attention. Please don’t rely on my description of the article. If you haven’t already read it, go read it at above link and come back.
Peter Munson died in 2015 from complications related to intravenous heroine use. A Silicon Valley patent attorney, his last phone call was dialing into a conference call for work. Peter’s ex-wife is convinced that the profession contributed to his addiction.
This section really moved me:
At Peter’s memorial service in 2015 — held in a place he loved, with sweeping views of the Pacific — a young associate from his firm stood up to speak of their friendship and of the bands they sometimes went to see together, only to break down in tears. Quite a few of the lawyers attending the service were bent over their phones, reading and tapping out emails.
Their friend and colleague was dead, and yet they couldn’t stop working long enough to listen to what was being said about him.
Peter himself lived in a state of heavy stress. He obsessed about the competition, about his compensation, about the clients, their demands and his fear of losing them. He loved the intellectual challenge of his work but hated the combative nature of the profession, because it was at odds with his own nature.
I’m convinced that the combative nature of the profession has a cumulative adverse impact on attorneys mental health that slowly builds for years. I don’t hear about lawyers in their 20’s and 30’s having mental breakdowns. It seems to happen in our 40’s and 50’s after we’ve endured 20-plus years of the grind of the profession.
I’m also convinced that constant connection with work from cell phones is terrible for