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Under the Influence

  • Originally published in Student Lawyer magazine, December 2003 (Vol. 32, No. 4). All rights reserved.

    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.

    by Cynthia L. Cooper
    (Cynthia L. Cooper is a lawyer and writer in New York City.)

    Law school without liquor poses a serious problem for Jana Pritchard. The 29-year-old law student in Chicago, who's halfway through her J.D. program, is a self-confessed binge drinker-"wine, beer, mixed drinks, shots on occasion, pretty much anything," she says. She tried giving up alcohol for a while in law school, but, within months, she started again.

    "The thought of making it through law school without drinking is stultifying," says Pritchard (who, like some other students interviewed for this article, chose a pseudonym for herself). "'Celebrate your victories and drown your defeats.' The law school culture supports that." She notes an irony of law school orientation: A talk on substance abuse is followed by an event at which everyone goes out and gets drunk.

    Read the rest of the article.

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