Longtime attorney becomes a therapist to help fellow lawyers deal with 'spirit-killing' profession

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After 30 years in practice, Alan Levin was ready for a change.

A divorce and therapy helped the Chicago lawyer take a new direction in life. Now 66 and remarried, he gave up his successful law practice, went back to school and set up a counseling shop along with another former attorney who became a therapist, the Chicago Tribune reports.

About one-fourth of their clients are lawyers. The waiting room in their suburban Chicago office features the soothing sound of waves crashing into a shoreline.

“If a lawyer comes in and says he just got a TRO and I have to prepare a response by 5 p.m., we know the setting,” Levin told the newspaper. “He doesn’t have to explain a damn thing.”

The constant pressure of law practice, as well as the personality types of many who are attracted to the profession, create a pressure-cooker for many, said Levin and his fellow therapist Gayle Victor, 63. Yet many lawyers are reluctant to seek help, instead using their advocacy skills to explain, rationalize and blame rather than gain perspective on issues that might be resolvable.

“It’s an incredibly stressful, killing occupation—killing in the sense of spirit-killing,” Levin told the Tribune. Lawyers who find their work unsatisfying can become obsessed with making money or overly emotionally invested in winning cases, he and Victor said.

“That’s awfully stressful, never to be wrong,” Victor told the newspaper.

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