“Save one life, save one career, save one family.”  -Claudette Patton


According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal field belongs to the top 25 most stressful jobs. Mountains of paperwork, billing pressures, overtimes, deadlines, client demands, and not to mention, court battles- even the toughest lawyer will at some point succumb to burnout. This week, we will look deeper into the lawyer’s mind with Claudette Patton. With 30 years of experience, Claudette became an expert in the vast arena of the legal industry including mediation, litigation, and education. Claudette talks about the factors contributing to mental health issues among lawyers and simple ways you can do to care for your mental well-being. Stress, substance abuse, and depression do not discriminate between professions. Whatever field you’re in, you will need assistance when pressures and adversities try to break you. Tune in and discover resources that can provide the help you need, at the same time maintaining confidentiality.



03:17 Stress and Suicide Among Lawyers

07:00 Lawyer Assistance Program 

10:35 What Makes Lawyers Susceptible to Mental Issues

14:01 Save One

19:55 Simple Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health

25:31 The Congressional Awards



de de’s Books

Two Degree’s Series 

Rescued Heart Series


The lawyer’s mind is beautifully wired, but also highly susceptible to stress and depression. Join @dedeCox and Claudette Patton as they discuss how lawyers can advocate for their own mental health and well-being. #dedecox #kentuckyromanceauthor… Click To Tweet



06:13 “The struggle is tough, but there’s nobody to talk to that they feel confident enough that would not perceive [women] as weak.  -Claudette Patton

11:04 “All of those things that make us great lawyers also make us more susceptible to addiction, stress, and depression. So we have to be cognizant that we are wired this way, and we have to make sure that we take care of ourselves, and we don’t slide down the slope.”  -Claudette Patton

12:21 “Lawyers are no longer civil to each other and the clients expect that. But sometimes, it crosses the line and you can’t back off from it so then, the relationships are being damaged.”  -Claudette Patton

15:31 “Save one life, save one career, save one family.”  -Claudette Patton

16:34 “The mind of a lawyer is beautiful. The capability of moving from one tragic situation to another and problem solving – that takes a unique mind put together in such a beautiful, unique way, and we want to preserve that. -Claudette Patton

24:40 “You can’t just use your mind. You have to be a well-rounded human being.”  -Claudette Patton


Meet Claudette: 

de de met Claudette through the pageant industry and her expertise in interviews. Her husband, Jim, was instrumental when de de’s mother had to be placed in a facility. Claudette was greatly helpful in answering the question of whom to choose as your publisher. 


Connect with The Congressional Award:  


Connect with The Congressional Award of Kentucky:  



de de Cox Hi guys, welcome. Welcome to the Kentucky romance author podcast. I’m de de Cox. I’m your designated driver. We are unbridled country traditions. Today my guest is Claudette Patton. Now, I’m going to take you way over most of the time, you’ve been hearing me talk about the pageant industry and different things. But today is the legal industry because she’s an actual attorney and she and I met through the legal industry, per se. Sowe’re going to go back just a little bit in time here. So Claudette, I want to ask you a couple questions. I know that we went to Dallas, Texas together, and I want you to tell everyone why, myself, Eileen and you travel to Dallas, Texas. What’s your big go? How’s your tie to this?

Claudette Patton My tie going to Texas for a author red carpet with this amazing woman who introduced me to her publisher, by the way, that’s how I got connected was to promote our new books that are coming. Everybody knows de de and she is you know the leading Kentucky romance author of Kentucky. It is a privilege and an honor to know her and call her my friend. But I’m very excited to be a part of the author’s group because I’m getting ready to launch a book that is very appropriate right now for our culture in the legal community and it is about attorney wellness. It is all about the brain development of an attorney, the lawyer, your mind how unique lawyers are and how their brains are wired. And the struggle that many lawyers are having right now in the mental health area and most people don’t realize that just from Christmas of 2020 through January of 2021 Kentucky lost four lawyers within three and a half weeks to death by suicide. There’s much stress and struggle right now in the mental health for lawyers, and my book on lawyer wellness and well being and taking care of the beautiful mind of lawyers that’s going to launch in about three months.

de de Cox I want to ask you, because I do medical malpractice. I work as a paralegal in one of the top firms and I see the stress that we’re placed under but I want you to tell the audience just a little bit about the stress that a young associate, even a partner has in the legal field that doesn’t know you have to sustain, what is it administration trust, administration taxation, medical malpractice, corporate, it’s out there. And I want you to talk a little bit about what you see the young associates encountering, in addition to the partners who are close to retirement that they still have to work just as hard. What is taking place right now in the legal world?

Claudette Patton Well, de de the way you turn that is great because it used to be in the practice of law, how bar associations were taking care of their lawyers. The John Hopkins studies on lawyer wellness used to say that the longer you stayed into the practice, the more likely you were to become addicted to alcoholism or to a substance abuse of a drug addiction. But the new Betty Hazelden Ford survey of 13,000 lawyers that was done just two years ago, now has changed that and it’s turned how we treat lawyers in the age categories on end. Because 43% of all lawyers who are the young lawyers, the young associates, the mid level lawyers, they are four times more likely to have an addiction or have a mental health suicide issue than those who are older. And most drug addiction for our lawyers begins in law school. So the lawyer assistance programs through the American Bar Association for each state are now changing our approach to how we speak with law students, lawyers, and there’s been a nationwide call to action for any stakeholder in the legal community, whether it’s a corporation, a law firm, a law school, or even local businesses who outsource their counsel is to come together in a partnership to take care of mental health lawyers, especially our young ones.

de de Cox Well, I know that right now, we have seen the big women’s movement where women are writing more, women are speaking more, women are in leadership roles more. Do you think that what is taking place in our legal community is affecting more women or is affecting more men?

Claudette Patton The statistics show it’s really equal. But when it comes to suicide and mental health, most of the suicides, death by suicide are men. There are very few that are women, although Kentucky in January had the first female lawyer to die by suicide. So it goes across gender, what happens is, is that most women are less likely than men to seek out any help, because the stereotype of that women cannot be perceived weak by the male partners. Because as much as we want to say the glass ceiling has been broken–

de de Cox It’s not. It maybe a bit shattered.

“The struggle is tough, but there’s nobody to talk to that they feel confident enough that would not perceive [women] as weak.  -Claudette Patton

Claudette Patton It’s shattered. And there are many opportunities for women. It’s still the numbers than the statistic shows that is still largely a man’s world when it comes to the partnership level. So women are less likely to seek out help, or to tell anyone that they have a struggle. And right now with a pandemic, women are having to do the NTI the Non Traditional Instruction. They’re at home trying to work keeping up with their billable hours, but also keeping up with all of their kids and NTI work. And several women have, you know, confided in me that the struggle is really tough, but there’s nobody to talk to, there’s no one that they feel confident enough that would not perceive them as weak in our profession.

de de Cox Because I know I’ve seen several emails, I’ve seen several Facebook posts, what is Kentucky doing to help attorneys have the resources that they possibly can call someone or they can possibly go somewhere? I know that addiction is very rampant within the state of Kentucky drug addiction, alcoholism. Suicide is just being added as another facet of the legal field. But what type of resources can we tell the audience? Where can we go? What can we do? What’s out there for us to help others?

Claudette Patton One of the greatest things about Kentucky is that we have what’s called the Kentucky Lawyer Assistance Program. Now, every single state has a lawyer systems program that’s mandated by the American Bar Association that are called co labs, or they’re a cooperative of lawyer systems, the Kentucky lawyer systems program. We have one of the best leading best practices of lawyer systems program in the country. And we have a system of where lawyers are helping other lawyers through this. So if you will reach out and contact the Lawyer Assistance Program, as an attorney, either for yourself or for someone that you know who is in need. It’s completely confidential. It’s not linked to the bar association, they cannot notify the bar that anyone has contacted them and it used to not be that way. But some lawyers feel like that it is not confidential and the rules of that have changed. And we have to get the word out that it’s changed, because we want to help so many people. But our program is fantastic. And they will find you a lawyer who has either struggled with your same mental health or substance use and become your partner alongside of you and your mentor to help you through the process. And who helped to find you the actual program that is best for you, and counselor that is best for you. Completely confidential, so those best practices are being into play. And let’s go back to your question about who is at risk. All areas of practice are at risk. General Counsel’s usually are the least reachable, because they’re a little more isolated than when it comes to bar associations than being active in certain functions of the bar. So our K lab has partnered with the Association of Corporate counsel in the Kentucky chapter to reach more general counsel so that they’re also receiving the same. Those who are the judiciary, those who are judges, even judges. Judges have as high a percentage rate as lawyers in suffering from a mental health issue. And the statistics are very, very staggering on many levels. First off in the area of substance abuse, 28% of all attorneys that are susceptible to an addiction. 28% had addiction–

de de Cox Because of their stress or under for billable hours, is it because of the stress of how what we’re going through right now the COVID, the pandemic?

Claudette Patton This is pre COVID. So the numbers are higher now after COVID. But we don’t have the data, the statistical data on it. This was pre COVID. This was 2018 data that we’re relying on and in the area of mental health, 62% of all lawyers on this survey indicated that they had an anxiety episode high enough to seek help and 12% of lawyers have thought of suicide.

de de Cox Now, when we think of mental health, you know, I think of something that probably is not what a typical person would think of in the legal field when you talk about anxiety. Michael said into anxiety because he said I was gonna be doing this and I thought he was gonna be doing this and then he pulled the rug out from underneath me, said that’s a different kind of anxiety. What other types of mental health are there? What should we as maybe type a layman that works in the law firm look out for to look out for our bosses, to look out for other attorneys that are within that law firm setting. What should we look for?

“All of those things that make us great lawyers also make us more susceptible to addiction, stress, and depression. So we have to be cognizant that we are wired this way, and we have to make sure that we take care of ourselves, and we don’t slide down the slope.”  -Claudette Patton

Claudette Patton Well, there are several reasons why we’re so susceptible. First of all, lawyers have certain personality traits that make them brilliant, fantastic lawyers, of being tenacious, being problem solvers, never letting something go. The skepticism, which makes us look at the worst scenario to predict an outcome, but look at it from the worst side so that we can get to the best side. So all of those things that make us great lawyers also make us more susceptible to addiction, and to stress and depression. So we have to be cognizant that we are wired this way, but being wired this way that makes us successful and brilliant. Also, we have to make sure that we take care of ourselves, and we don’t slide down the slope into the other things. Things to look for. First off in the profession, you know, the media, Hollywood has changed the practice of law. We now think that every single aspect of law is to beat the other side into submission. It’s win, win win. Even the conference room is called the war room. When you get ready to prepare for trial, it’s the war room. So we participate in lawfare every day, military prepare for warfare, we do lawfare, and we are preparing for a battle to win. And it used to be that our profession was not about win, win, win. It was about counseling, advocacy, mediation, problem resolution, conciliation.

de de Cox Now, you don’t even see that anymore. They just go straight through it.

“Lawyers are no longer civil to each other and the clients expect that. But sometimes, it crosses the line and you can’t back off from it so then, the relationships are being damaged.”  -Claudette Patton

Claudette Patton Yes. It’s an automatic battle. We’ve also lost our civility as a society, but in the practice of law as well. Lawyers are no longer civil to each other. The clients expect that. So it’s a show, but sometimes, then it it crosses the line, and then you can’t back off from it. Many lawyers can’t. And so then the relationships are being damaged, that we used to have, because we were a service industry, we were a profession and we were congenial with each other. As we stated our facts, we might have won in the courtroom, but afterward, we walked over, extended our hand in friendship if we want and said to the other side, “Good job, and I’ll buy you lunch next week.”

de de Cox That doesn’t happen anymore. The service of realizing not just if you were on the defendant side, I was on the plaintiff side, they’ve lost that kindness to get over there. And so, you know, you fought a good fight. You did a great job on defending this individual. Instead, they look at each other and they growl at each other and they leave and they’re unhappy. And the whole load or the whole mood is put into that. And it’s sad because we’ve gotten angry, angry at each other. And we don’t know how to be able to say, you know, even though I had to go up against him, he was one heck of an attorney. Nobody wants to compliment. I want to ask you, was there an instance why you decided to write the book? Why did you decide to write now?

Claudette Patton A couple of reasons of why now. First off , Jim and I we’re sitting at the table kitchen table.

de de Cox Jim is her husband.

Claudette Patton Jims, my husband.

de de Cox Who is also who is also a lawyer.

“Save one life, save one career, save one family.”  -Claudette Patton

Claudette Patton He’s also an attorney. And we were drafting and figuring out what we were going to do to send our condolences to the family of a colleague who had died by suicide. And it’s been more than one. Out of out of the four, just a month ago, you know, I knew three of them. They weren’t close personal friends, but they were still my colleagues that I had met or had a case with or something so because our community really is small. So that’s the first part of it. The second part of it is is what most people don’t realize is that the age of 47, my husband had he was in a fantastic legal career in Washington, DC very high stress, very successful and at 47 and my husband in his office had a stroke. A stress induced stroke at 47. And six months later was diagnosed with cancer. So when the Betty Hazelden Ford survey came out on stress and how it’s affecting the age categories, and that the call to action, we looked at each other and said, “We need to answer the call to action. We’re not the major law firm, we’re not the corporation. But we have access. And we are a stakeholder because we’re lawyers.” And so we’re writing this book. We’re out speaking, because our whole motto is, save one life, save one career, save one family. Save one. And if we say one person, then the book is worth it, the speech is worth it, the CLE, this is a Continuing Legal Education program that is accredited. And so I’ve been speaking all over the country on lawyer well being combined with ethics. And the whole thing is if one person seeks our help and calling a lawyer assistance program, or a counselor, and they get help, and they save their life, then it’s all worth it.

de de Cox It’s all worth it. I know you’ve thought long and hard about what the title of the book would be, because of how it most people don’t want to talk about suicide, they don’t want to talk about addiction. They want to shove it underneath the rug and hope that it disappears, because it can never happen to me. It can never happen to my family. What is the title of the book and why did you title it that way?

“The mind of a lawyer is beautiful. The capability of moving from one tragic situation to another and problem solving – that takes a unique mind put together in such a beautiful, unique way, and we want to preserve that. -Claudette Patton

Claudette Patton The title of the book is the Lawyer Mind. And that’s because the mind of a lawyer is beautiful. It’s wired in a unique way that we think differently. We process information differently. We take facts and logic and fact patterns and the tracing and dot to dot point to point and the capability of moving from one tragic situation to another and cleaning up the mess and problem solving. That takes a unique mind that is put together in such a beautiful, unique way and we want to preserve that.

de de Cox Okay. I want to go back just a little bit because I want them to tell you how Jim is doing now because he had the stroke, he had cancer. If you’re okay with that, I want you to tell him how he’s doing.

Claudette Patton Jim is 11 years cancer free. And if you’ve ever met him, you would never notice, you would not know he ever had a stroke. He has 100% health.

de de Cox And he’s still practicing law?

Claudette Patton He’s still practicing law. He is a general counsel for a corporation and is doing amazing. And he serves on the Association of Corporate counsel. He is on their attorney wellness committee, and also chairman of their corporate social responsibility.

de de Cox Okay. I want you to tell them not with going into great detail because you know, and legal, everything has to be confidential, even though we know that there’s nothing confidential because if you get funded on the internet, it’s going to be there. But I want you to tell them what you do. You don’t have to be so specific. But I do want them to know what you’re doing to make a difference. What do you do?

Claudette Patton I practice family law. And but my area of that is dear to my heart is the dependency neglect and abuse cases which is in juvenile court. And those are the cases that most people would recognize as Child Protective Services cases. Cases where parents have lost their children. Children are separated from their parents for a variety of reasons whether its dependency, a parent is ill, can’t take care of children, or abuse has occurred on numbers levels, or there’s neglect that’s happening. So I sometimes have been guardian ad litem where I represent the children and sometimes I’m a parent attorney, and making sure that all due process is followed and that family preservation. Kentucky has a legislation. We’re one of the very few in the country that has adopted the federal standard of families first preservation of where we do everything that we can to keep families together. Because in Kentucky right now we are number one in the nation for child abuse and number two, we have over 10,000 children in foster care with no available foster homes.

de de Cox Yeah. That is such a need such a need. But I know you personally not just in the business sense, the legal field, but I also know you as a personal friend, a very dear friend. How do you take care of your mental well being? How do you take care of your mental health? Because I know even family not being in the court system wherever and during COVID, we’re all stressed. We’re all stressed. It doesn’t matter the area of business that you’re in or the job that you’re in or if you’re staying at home doing your job. We’re all stressed. How do you take care of yourself, your mental health?

Claudette Patton Sometimes that’s a struggle. You know, let’s be really honest here. We’ve had a lot of have open communication with other lawyers and somebody asked where you’re speaking and you’re doing all of this and you have it all together. And I don’t know, I don’t. There are some days of where I am struggling as much as someone else in the stress level of what we’re having to do because COVID has actually changed the practice of law completely. And I gave even our, you know Hourigan, who is the Director of the Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program, I explained to her the other day because she no longer practices as an attorney, because she’s the Director of the Lawyers Assistance Program. Court is virtual now and most days when I am doing the neglect and abuse cases, everything is virtual. And I have three laptops going simultaneously, one for one courtroom, the second one for another courtroom, a third laptop for the conferences that the attorneys all do together with the prosecutors and the social workers, and all the attorneys involved. And then I have one cell phone for a separate attorney who doesn’t do zoom that we haven’t talked to. And then I have my second cell phone that is to text and talk to clients in between court. And I said that I feel like that I have been put in the cockpit of a 747 and we’re in a crash landing mode and I have no training.

de de Cox Yeah. And I have to do the best that I can to get us on the ground. Yes. Yes. To land it.

Claudette Patton  Without committing malpractice and getting evidence in, saying the right thing, not misstating, your technology not going dark. So at the end of the day of that is is a stress. And so you asked me what I do, I do a lot of walking. I do walking, can’t go to the gym anymore. You know, you can’t do that. So you do a lot of walking with a dog. And I refer to my dogs as my canine paralegals, because they know all my cases, because I debrief my cases with my dogs when I’m walking.

de de Cox Yeah. They got the best ears. They don’t say anything back. And they’re listening to youand they enjoy everything that you’re saying and they’re not disagreeing. So that’s less stress on you.

Claudette Patton And I also have a professional person that I talked to, and some people, no, you shouldn’t tell people that you do that? Well, I need that. And I call him my paid best friend. He laughed at that when I said, well, you’re my paid best friend, because you’re where I can get out all– it’s really just the release of the stress that I can’t say to my family and I can’t say to another lawyer, and I can’t reveal and then you’re completely confidential so you can’t tell anybody what I’ve said to you. And so it is a perfect release of stress, and heat up. But you don’t refer to me as, no. You are not my therapist. And most lawyers are very obstinate. They don’t think they need help and they don’t think that a therapist can change or help and they don’t want to. They’re the most resistant when it comes to getting help. So when I tell them that I have a paid best friend, they all snicker and laugh, and I go, all of us need to paid best friend. Because we have to have a space that is safe.

de de Cox We have to have that outlet. It’s an outlet that we know that no matter what’s taking place, they’re not going to judge us. You can’t judge us. I can’t judge you. And I do have a paid best friend that’s going to help me get through some of what I have encountered today, or I have encountered during the week or whatever. I want to do a complete flip-flop because I know you’re very philanthropy-oriented. So I want you to talk about because this is your passion. This is what you deal with community service and how you work with these young ladies or men, whatever you want to say. I want you to tell them about your philanthropy ‘coz that impressed me very much.

You can’t just use your mind. You have to be a well-rounded human being.”  -Claudette Patton

Claudette Patton Well, one of our major focuses that my husband and I work together, we’re very involved in wanting and intergenerational relationships among people. So we have dedicated the last 13 years to the US congressional award for youth. It is the highest honor that Congress gives to us of our nation. And it is all done. They have to perform community service, volunteer. They can’t be paid. And that they select their own, what is important to them. We don’t tell them what kind of volunteer they can make, they can pick. It’s what’s important to them, and we help them write the smart goals on how they’re going to best help the charity that they’ve selected. The second phase of that is they have to participate in personal development, which is personal leadership. So we are developing the young leaders of our nation and community service, leadership training. They have to participate in physical activity because it’s all connected, just like with the book, The Lawyer Mind. You can’t just use your mind, you must have some physical activities. You can’t just use one thing. You have to be a well-rounded human being. The fourth component is what’s called expedition or exploration. And they want you to either explore our National and State Parks and or they want you to immerse yourself into other cultures. So you have to do trips that you plan as a student, not me, not my husband, not your parents, but the youth. They have to plan a cultural trip or a nature trip that they do it all themselves.

de de Cox Okay. Tell them how to find out– where can they go, because I know we’ll have a lot of women that are mine and your age that have children that, you know, maybe the daughters, the sons or whatever, or even maybe grandchildren that need to become involved in this. Tell them how to find you. Tell them how to find–

Claudette Patton Well, how you can find it in Kentucky, you can go to our Facebook page, which is The Congressional Award of Kentucky, on Facebook and you can contact us through that. And if you want us to talk to you, maybe my husband and I will contact you and talk to you about how we can be your mentor or we will help you to find someone to be your child’s mentor. You have to have an advisor and a mentor. That’s number one. Number two, go straight to the US congressional award. It’s congressionalaward.org. It will take you straight to the site in Washington, DC, and you can see everything that they do. And there are six levels of awards. In the sixth award, which is a gold medal awarded to you by Congress. It’s mented at the US Mint, there are only two awards mented at the US Mint. This is one of them, okay? So it’s quite the deal. And once you reach gold medal status, then you go to Washington, DC and you are awarded, your gold medal onstage in the Capitol building in the Capitol theater by your individual congressman. Last year, Wolf Blitzer was the emcee and introduced every youth coming across the stage and what they did. Dwayne Rock Johnson, you know, the rock. He’s been involved. Oftentimes, Nancy Pelosi, whoever is the speaker. She or he and Mitch McConnell is involved as well. But every congressman of each state gets involved and encourages our youth. And you get VIP passes to the Capitol Building. You can sit in on Congress, you can tour, you’re invited to your congressman’s personnel chambers. It is an honor. And very few students follow through. I mean, it’s for initiative, achievement, and service. Has nothing to do with your grade point average, has nothing to do with– it’s your personal goals.

de de Cox Okay. That’s what I wanted to do. Now that we’ve gotten that part, this is why I love her cuz she talks legal stuff to me then we talk pageant stuff, then we talk community service stuff. And her husband is really cool, because he helps my family out and something very close to me regarding a family issue. So I mean, again, I get back to the fact that God has a big O circle. And I’m so glad she’s part of the circle. And I’m so glad she walks with me. Because when I came around the circle, I was like, oh, there’s Claudette. So and today she came to be with you to share what her passion is. Her passion is the mental health of attorneys. And I’ve done law since I was 14 years old. I started in shorthand, which nobody does anymore. But I got taken to probate court and shorthand and probate court. And so that started my legal side of it. And I’m very blessed that she has been here to let you know what’s taking place outside of your world and inside of someone else’s world. So I love you.

Claudette Patton Thank you so much. And so this is Diana Cox.

de de Cox de de Cox.

Claudette Patton Yeah. This is what we do. We are live with a de de Cox podcast who is the leading number one Kentucky female romance novel author.

de de Cox And we’ve actually titled it now Unbridled Country Traditions that you can tell that she and I are country just by the way we talk and by the way we care and by the way that you’ve been watching everything. So de de Cox your designated driver Kentucky Romance Author, Unbridled Country Traditions. God bless.