Jim Ryan discusses stresses on lawyers

By Nina Gougis

When former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan lectured at the College of Law on Friday, he had one piece of advice: Never take life for granted.

It was a lesson he said he learned when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in 1999 after his first term as attorney general.

“It’s given my life a sense of urgency, that my life’s not going to last forever,” Ryan said. “Too many people sleep-walk through life.”

The lecture was part of a lecture series that began in 1994 in honor of professor emeritus Francis Riley, a founding faculty member of the College of Law.

During the lecture, Ryan focused on the increasing demands placed on law school students and lawyers in the 20th century.

Lawyers’, he said, was one of the top groups for substance abuse and unhappiness. Law students suffer many ailments contributed to stress, including digestion problems and insomnia.

Living a more balanced lifestyle, sticking to morals and working for a cause instead of a paycheck is the best way to help deal with stress, he said.

Ryan, who ran against Gov. Rod Blagojevich during the last election, also addressed many problems facing the state, including the deficit.

He said he is not opposed to raising taxes if all other attempts have been made to cut spending and boost the economy. However, cutting back educational programs, especially those that focus on inner-city children, should not be a solution.

“Cutting back on social programs that help children is a huge mistake,” he said.

Prospective student Erin Bernett, a senior business administration and pre-law major at Michigan State University, attended the lecture after taking part in a student visiting day.

Bernett said she thought the lecture Ryan gave was insightful and made her realize how important lawyers can be in shaping public policy.

Father Peter Bernett said he was impressed with the school and the lecture.

“I didn’t know anything (about the school) before I came here,” he said. “But all of the professors have made it very convincing that they’re caring.”