National Black Pre-Law Conference celebrates decade of inspiring black lawyers

The National Black Pre-Law Conference and Law Fair will host its 10th annual celebration in honor of empowering aspiring black lawyers.

The free event will be held Friday and Saturday in the Houston Marriott Westchase. Late registration begins today and ends Wednesday.

The conference brings together aspiring lawyers, parents, supporters, friends, law students, judges, and law school representatives to help students begin their law school career with “insider” information and encouragement on their journey to become successful attorneys.

The conference provides participants with access to over 100 law schools that participate in the law fair. Other events include workshops and panel discussions pertaining to law school, networking and mentorship opportunities, professional business image and etiquette training, town hall meetings, law school admissions test (LSAT) preparation clinics, and diagnostic LSAT administrations.

State Bar of Texas Immediate Past President Lisa Tatum will speak as a panelist during a Saturday workshop on legal careers. The panel discussion will focus on what law firm partners do, how they got to where they are, and their advice for meeting upcoming challenges.

Tatum will be joined by moderator Erica Edwards-O’Neal, director of diversity and inclusion and senior director of career services of the Touro Law Center (Central Islip, New York); Tiffany Bingham Briscoe, partner in Vorys (Houston); Jonathan Cox, partner in The Cox Pradia Law Firm P.L.L.C. (Houston); Daniella Landers, partner in Sutherland (Houston); Demetra Liggins, partner in Thompson & Knight LLP (Houston); Patricia Rosier, managing partner in the Law Office of Rosier & Associates (Upper Marlboro, Maryland); Daryl K. Washington, partner in the Law Offices of Daryl K. Washington, P.C., Attorneys and Counselors at Law (Dallas); and Marlene C. Williams, partner in Jackson Walker L.L.P. (Houston).

General admission is free and everyone is welcome. For more information on how to register or a complete schedule of events, visit blackprelawconference.org.

 

Stories of Recovery: On the brink of suicide, I found new hope

Editor’s note: This is the fifth story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar’s TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call us at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

I could not open my eyes. I could hear someone calling my name but I didn’t recognize the voice. I let myself drift back into unconsciousness.

The next time I woke up, I was alone except for the machines that whirred and beeped around me. I tried to take a deep breath but couldn’t. Tubes pumped oxygen into my lungs and my arms were strapped down to the bed. The instinct to panic was overwhelming. Then, a nurse appeared at my side. Smiling, she informed me that my family was in the waiting room. I didn’t want to see them because I was so ashamed. How could I have wound up like this?

At 12, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression by a psychiatrist who was happy to fill out a prescription for Prozac and send me on my way. During my senior year of college, I found myself once again battling the anxiety and depression. I went to the school infirmary and requested a prescription. It didn’t help so I began to drink on days that the anxiety was particularly intense. I looked forward to it. It seemed like a reward for all my hard work.

The first year of law school was dizzying. I drank on weekends to excess, which was the only thing that seemed to help. It also made things worse. I did dumb things while drinking that I couldn’t explain, things that made me ashamed. But I didn’t stop drinking. I thought I just needed to learn how to drink better.

When I began my first job after law school, I had no idea what I was doing. I constantly felt incompetent and afraid. My anxiety skyrocketed. I spent my weekdays looking forward to the weekend when I could hang out, drink, and relax. So many other people seemed to feel the same way that I never considered for a moment that my behavior wasn’t normal.

My anxiety and depression got worse and worse, leading me to miss work. Then I would feel worse for missing work. Then I would feel more anxious, more depressed. And then I would drink.

After a while, I started losing hope. I began to think of all the ways that the world would be better without me. I just couldn’t see any way out of the darkness.

One night I decided to end my life. It wasn’t a decision the way people imagine. It was a moment of sobbing desperation. I had been drinking all day, working myself into a wretched state. I didn’t want my life to go on the way it was going. Very simply, I couldn’t stand another day like this one. I took a whole bottle of sleeping pills. There wasn’t a lot of forethought, and I certainly did not consider the long-term consequences of this decision. I just wanted the pain to stop. Suddenly, with the finality of my decision staring me in the face, I panicked. I cried out to God that I didn’t want to die.

While I was in the hospital a doctor came in to speak to me. The doctor informed me that I needed to agree to seek treatment or he was going to recommend inpatient treatment, with or without my consent. He handed me a list of outpatient treatment facilities.

That first phone call was the hardest. I thought surely I would lose everything that I had worked for, but I didn’t. God had not saved my life to deliver me into continued misery.

The road to recovery was not easy. I admitted my drinking problem and sought treatment. I underwent therapy and counseling for my anxiety and depression and have learned positive ways to deal with their symptoms. I have found God.

Through my faith, I have learned not to trust in my own understanding of things, and to relinquish the delusion of control. I deal with what I have power over, and I try not to obsess over the things that I do not. I am still practicing law. I have a family and friends and I am happy. I hope that by sharing my story, I encourage another attorney to seek help, restoring value to the years I lost.