Brian Cuban’s Journey from Addiction to Recovery

Attorneys Robert A. Creo and Brian Cuban after Brian's speech at the ABA 2019 National Conference for Lawyer Assistance Programs

Brian Cuban’s gripping speech at the ABA 2019 National Conference for Lawyer Assistance Programs chronicled his journey from addiction to recovery and instilled both pride, and hope, that the legal profession’s recent focus on the well-being of lawyers will have profound positive impacts.

Brian Cuban is an attorney, author, advocate, and public speaker who leads an entity that he founded to help other lawyers, The Addicted Lawyer.

In an authentic voice, Brian took us back to his days of being bullied at Mt. Lebanon High School outside of Pittsburgh, and his decades-long addiction to alcohol and cocaine that started during his undergraduate years at Penn State and continued through his graduation from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

After graduating law school in 1986, Brian moved to Dallas to take the Texas Bar Exam and to live near his brothers, businessmen Mark and Jeffrey. Among others, he credits his brothers for his recovery, noting they never lost faith in him. The three brothers live within walking distance of each other in Dallas.

Their mother still resides in Pittsburgh, so Brian is a frequent visitor to my hometown. I was pleased to learn that Brian is still a die-hard Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates fan, going back to 1969 to his first Buccos game with his Dad. Brian sometimes went to over 60 home games a season!

More importantly though, Brian is an expert on the issues of addiction and recovery for lawyers, and he is a leader and a role model in the fast-growing field of lawyer well-being. I also would recommend reading his blog and his books.

I was pleased to attend the ABA 2019 National Conference for Lawyer Assistance Programs in Austin, Texas to learn of the good work that lawyers are doing to promote the well-being of both legal practitioners and law students.

The compassion that is needed to effectively promote wellness was palpable at the ABA Conference, and I believe that leaders and innovators are now energized to lead the charge in improving the culture of the legal profession.

Helping Lawyers Get Help: By West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Elizabeth Walker

Robert A. Creo, Esq.; Chief Justice Elizabeth Walker, Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia; Robert Albury, Director of the West Virginia Judicial and Lawyer Assistance Program
West Virginia is a leader in lawyer wellness and assistance initiatives. Under Chief Justice Elizabeth Walker‘s direction, the judiciary continues to integrate lawyer well-being into the legal system and community. 
To learn more about these initiatives and the lawyer well-being movement in West Virginia, download Chief Justice Walker’s recent column, Helping Lawyers Get Help, from the Summer 2019 edition of “From the Chief.”


Core Competencies: Affiliation and Association

The current series explores the importance of soft skills and the development of core competencies involved in decision-making and effective client representation, including the science and the nuts and bolts of lawyer wellness, competency and contentment. This column speaks to the benefits of affiliation, association and engagement with your peers in the legal community.

To learn more, feel free to download my latest Effective Lawyer column published in the Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. 

If you are interested in receiving PDF’s of any of the others in the series listed here, please email me at

Balancing Work and Wellness with the Pennsylvania Bar Institute

Robert A. Creo, Esq., mediator, arbitrator, and educator, and principal of Happy Effective Lawyer, recently had his materials included in an innovative CLE program provided by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI) in Philadelphia. 

The program was organized by practitioners Ellen D. Bailey, Esq., Deputy General Counsel, Stockton University Office of General Counsel, Anastasia B. Wohar, Esq., and law firm Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller.

It consisted of classroom CLE presentations, followed by time spent putting theory into action with exercising in the gym. It was very well-received by participants.

Robert’s contributions included two E-books on the subjects of exercise and stress, which can be downloaded as free PDFs.

The Relational Mindset in Law: An Example in Practice

Recently, I read and reviewed Stewart Levine’s book, entitled The Best Lawyer You Can Be: A Guide to Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Wellness.

In the afterword of the book, Stewart and contributor Louise Phipps Senft, Esq., focus on what it means to practice in a “relational” rather than “transactional” manner. 

They urge readers to “take time to read, contemplate, and consider how others’ voices and discern how their expertise affects your thinking and moves you to act in ways that are good for you.”

Like me, many of you may already be following the Relational Mindset or other healthy habits and practices without having unpacked why in detail. I personally have always aimed to translate and apply the Relational Mindset in practice with colleagues and adversaries on a platform of civility and collegiality.

As an example, when I was a young lawyer practicing from a storefront office, I handled small civil matters for working class clientele. At this time, there were a handful of lawyers in the Pittsburgh legal scene that had the reputations of being underhanded and unethical. However, I rejected the current legal trend towards Rambo tactics. I tried to work with every opposing counsel and claim adjuster in a cooperative, respectful, and transparent manner. After receiving a few brushback tactics, I resisted the tit-for-tat and handled the tensions with what I hoped was grace and understanding. It worked. I got along well with these notorious lawyers by applying what I now know as a Relational Mindset.

Another attorney in the area had an office in the next neighborhood over, and from the first case, I knew that we would cross paths often. I did what I could to further a positive relationship while not compromising the interests of my clients. I do believe that I achieved better results with my clients by taking the high road. I recall sitting in the lawyer’s office one day and he said something to the effect of, “well, you have always been a straight shooter with me and never nasty, so we can skip the fighting since it won’t be any fun for me. Let’s make the following fair deal now rather than later.”

With a few minor revisions, we made the deal, and I sincerely thanked him as I shook his hand to leave. Because I utilized the Relational Mindset in my approach with him, and he eventually met me halfway, we were able to work together productively and achieve a favorable outcome for each of our clients.

I highly recommend that you read Stewart’s book and consider the areas where you can apply the Relational Mindset to your own practice of law!

Source: Stewart L. Levine, The Best Lawyer You Can Be: A Guide to Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Wellness