Student Lawyer: Under the Influence — Drug and alcohol dependence affects law student’s health and their prospects for bar admission. Law schools and legal groups are working to raise awareness of the problem and develop solutions, but the task isn’t easy.(This article is from a magazine that is published by the law student division of the American Bar Association.)

While I commend the ABA for running this provocative and thoughtful article, I also challenge them for not seeing their own blame in this problem. Thanks to the ABA’s out-dated and ridiculous accreditation standards for American law schools, the experience of law school in the US is a hellacious, spirit-robbing, stressful experience. Given that this experience is compounded with the rapidly escalating costs of tuition these days (no other word but “exhorbitant” seems appropriate for what private law schools charge these days) that is constantly a preassure on L-students, it is no wonder that so many law students seek relief in a bottle.

The ABA as far as I’m concerned is primarily responsible, since they insist on maintaining that the “socratic torture” method is a great way to educate lawyers and by maintaining ridiculous standards on attendance, employment standards, etc. These things promote the continuation of a stressful law school experience which leads to all kind of bad outcomes, including the fact that law students have one of the highest death rates of any graduate school field of study. (I don’t have the cite for this but will add when i have time to hunt it down).

I’m glad the ABA is addressing the issues of substance abuse and stress but I disagree with the tone they are taking with it. It’s not right to shoulder the students with the blame for this. They need to be looking at themselves. No where in this story (or the other articles on this subject in the magazine) was there any acknoledgement that the ABA’s whacked-out accreditation standards might be a factor in this problem.