They are subjects that are tough for anyone to talk about, let alone lawyers and law students: addiction and depression.
Brian Cuban—younger brother of Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” star— confronted these issues Feb. 27 at Albany Law School, sharing his wellness journey with students, faculty, staff, and guests. Before his talk, Cuban signed copies of his book, THE ADDICTED LAWYER: TALES OF THE BAR, BOOZE, BLOW, AND REDEMPTION.
“Through much of my teen and adult life, I was clinically addicted to alcohol and cocaine, and I misused prescription pills… and illegal anabolic steroids,” said Cuban in his book, reflecting on how addiction and mental health issues derailed a successful legal career. “I want to understand more—not just how many lawyers are struggling with drugs, alcohol, and depression, but why they’re struggling. I also want to explore a deeper question that has nagged me as well: Why are we, as a profession, so reluctant to seek help?”
His story is powerful. His questions are important. Though the larger issues remain, Cuban’s presence and message are part of a cultural shift, led on campus by Albany Law School’s Wellness Initiative.
“The event was an incredible success—so much of that is a tribute to Brian. He is open and honest. The conversation was so important to have at the law school. Talking about issues like substance abuse and mental health is incredibly difficult, but students, faculty, and members of the community were able to have a safe space to start these conversations,” said Carly Dziekan ’20, who set up Cuban’s visit as a Colby Fellow working within the Wellness Initiative. “One of the biggest takeaways people got was the importance of community and checking in on people. He discussed the impact of simply saying, ‘How are you doing today?’ to classmates and colleagues.”
“My hope is that the takeaway will be what resonates based on the listeners’ individual lenses and stories,” Cuban said. “People have reached out about bullying, eating disorders, childhood trauma, and other nontraditional issues that I talk about, which is why I stress the importance of the whole story over the struggle in the moment.”
Cuban did take a few minutes to have some fun. Of course, that was on the law school’s basketball court. “I loved the campus and how the student body, faculty, and administration embraced my message as well as the work being done by groups to break the stigma of mental-health struggles,” Cuban said. “I will say that it was the first law school I’ve spoken at with its own basketball court. I’m embarrassed that I put up such a brick on my shot! I hope I get to come back and make amends.”