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Justice Education

Good Read
November 2022

Professions and Politics in Crisis

Mark L. Jones

The legal profession is currently experiencing a crisis of well-being.  According to a study of nearly 13,000 lawyers by the American Bar Association in 2016, 28% struggle with depression, 23% experience chronic stress, and as high as 36% qualify as problem drinkers, with all of these rates higher for lawyers less than 10 years removed from law school.  As for law students, 17% experience depression, 14% struggle with severe anxiety, and 43% report binge drinking in the past two weeks.  In response to this crisis, Mark L. Jones makes the case that rediscovering a deep sense of vocation in the legal profession is the key to helping lawyers live happy, flourishing lives.

In Professions and Politics in Crisis, Jones envisions a community based on the Thomistic Aristotelian vision of Alasdair Macintyre.  Exploring how we can find purpose in our everyday lives by living for the common good of our community, Jones then turns to how thinking in these terms can provide lawyers with a new sense of meaning and purpose as legal professionals.  While Jones focuses primarily on the legal profession, he notes that Macintyre‚Äôs philosophical approach can be applied to other professions as well.  If the professions were to embrace such an approach, the emphasis on virtue would then start to have a wider societal influence, organically helping to confront not just a crisis of well-being in particular professions, but a crisis of well-being in our political culture as well.