Legal Ethics

Burned-Out Lawyer Plans to Opt Out, One Among Many on 'Dark Side' of Law

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When Glen Rosenberg realized he’d let the statute of limitations expire in a personal injury case for the first time in nearly 20 years of practice, he did the right thing.

First, he notified his malpractice carrier. Then he told his client, reports the Connecticut Law Tribune. At a grievance hearing last month in Hartford Superior Court, the 46-year-old solo practitioner was given a 30-day suspension.

But he’s going to find something else to do, period, Rosenberg told Judge James Graham at the Jan. 22 hearing, explaining that he made the decision to stop practicing on the spot, as soon as he realized he’d missed the filing deadline.

“I burned out,” he told the judge. “It just seemed like endless, endless, endless problems. You put out one fire or flame and another one erupts, and for the last year of my practice I did it making virtually no money at the practice of law. I suppose I was near to depression.”

Rosenberg is far from the only lawyer to feel this way after many years of hard work. And it seems that attorneys who work in small firms are often the hardest-hit by the difficulties of their jobs—which have been exacerbated by the current economic crisis, the Law Tribune recounts in an article about what it characterizes as “the dark side of law.”

Complaints to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel were up 30 percent last year, totaling 430 at the end of 2008. And, while some involve intentional malfeasance, a significant number simply concern lawyers who can’t keep up any longer with the pressure of daily practice, Chief Disciplinary Counsel Mark Dubois tells the legal publication.

His own job, these days, is “almost like social work,” he says, and often involves “spending time on the phone with doctors for lawyers who are coming apart.”

Related coverage:

Associated Press: “Rapid City lawyer suspended for three years”

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