Jan. 30, 2024 – When I was about eight or nine months into my sobriety, I had one of the worst days of my life. My problems started at work. I was a recent law school graduate working at a mid-size public defender’s office in Florida.

Public defenders are court-appointed lawyers who represent criminal defendants who can’t afford to hire a private attorney. It’s an incredibly stressful job, with high caseloads (sometimes over 100 open cases at a time), long hours, and low pay.

For me, the most difficult part of the job was the emotional toll. My clients, in general, had extremely hard lives. No matter how much work I put in, even when I won cases or got charges dropped, there was often nothing I could do to help my clients in the long run.

This was especially trying because the vast majority of my clients were juveniles. I worked with kids who were in truly horrific situations, and I often went home feeling defeated…