Are You a Gambler?
Let’s face it, we are a profession of risk takers. We roll the dice when we take a case, and we may even use this language when warning our clients that juries are unpredictable. While March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, this issue should be on our radar every month of the year. Gambling is normative behavior in most adults, but not everyone. Gambling Disorder is recognized in the Fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and impacts 2-3% of the population, at various levels of severity, each year.
Because problem gambling can affect relationships, employment, finances, health, and many other areas, it may be that a higher percentage of those who seek legal help have a gambling problem. LCL worked with the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling to develop a resource page for legal professionals. It addresses ways for lawyers to watch for and ask about gambling with clients, because it may make a difference in your representation. And your client may be the one who is impacted by someone else’s gambling problem. Shame is a significant barrier to getting help for gamblers and those close to them. By being open to this issue, you may be able to redirect and provide relief well beyond your representation. Would you know where to send someone? Minnesota’s problem gambling helpline offers “no judgment, only hope.” Free gambling treatment is available in Minnesota.
We’re at risk too. The stress of our profession may lead to escape behaviors which can include unhealthy gambling. A big reward when we take a chance on a case may lead to riskier choices and behaviors. Lawyers in recovery from problem gambling talk about practices such as settling cases quickly, for lesser amounts, to receive an immediate payout with which to gamble. If you find yourself paying attention to when you will next gamble instead of other important things in your life, it’s time to get help. The minute it seems ok to borrow client funds your license will be at risk. We are fortunate in Minnesota to have a resource like the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling where you can learn much more. LCL can help whether it’s you or someone you care about. Please don’t hesitate to call.