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Signs of Lawyer / Judge Impairment

Signs that suggest a Lawyer/Judge may be impaired due to a disease and/or other condition affecting his or her health may vary according to the type of problem, its severity and the stage of development.


  • Often late and/or leaving early
  • Taking “long lunches” and/or not returning after lunch
  • Missing appointments or scheduled appearances
  • Taking frequent days off without good reason


  • Missed deadlines
  • Inadequate follow-through
  • Decreased efficiency
  • Lack of attention
  • Poor judgment
  • Inability to concentrate
  • General difficulty with recall
  • Difficulty getting started
  • Does not return phone calls
  • Complaints from staff and/or clients
  • Poor performance in afternoon
  • Blaming others for mistakes
  • Making excuses for poor performance


  • Deterioration of personal appearance or hygiene; large weight gain or loss
  • Persistent complaints of not feeling well
  • Withdrawal or avoidance of others
  • Insomnia, falls asleep at work, complains about not sleeping
  • Unable to retain, or often fires, secretary, associate or other staff
  • Overreacts to real or imagined criticism; other problems with supervisor
  • Disagreements with or unable to work with colleagues; uncooperative
  • Irritability; angry outbursts; hostile attitude; rapid mood swings

Source:  Alcohol and Drug Administration

  • Individual has a high breathalyzer test result
  • Individual attends office meetings, court appearance, or other functions after drinking
  • Individual drinks in the morning or during business hours
  • Individual drinks substantial amounts of alcohol and drinks often
  • Individual becomes defensive about drinking
  • Individual experiences memory loss (blackouts)
  • Individual experiences increased or decreased tolerance
  • Legal problems in combination
  • Individual has made past attempts to stop drinking
  • Individual makes statements about his/her drinking that signals a drinking problem