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January 22, 2010 1:14 PM

Suicide Victim a Baker & Hostetler Partner

Posted by Brian Baxter

Police have determined that the death of John Mason Mings earlier this week on a beach in Galveston, Texas, was an apparent suicide. Mings was 45.

At the time of his death, Mings was a partner in the Houston office of Baker & Hostetler, where he specialized in intellectual property and patent law. He joined the firm in December 2008 from Fulbright & Jaworski, where he was a partner and practiced for several years.

An obituary in the Houston Chronicle notes the lawyer was fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. He possessed an incredible sense of humor that translated well in both languages, and his "Mingisms" would "always be expressed with dry wit in combination with an exaggerated accent that was always found to be hilarious by audiences of all ages."

Mings was an avid sailor and member of the Houston Yacht Club, and he enjoyed spending time with his family on the water and in various sailing competitions. Professionally he was a member of several IP, trademark, and arbitration bodies, and he frequently spoke at conferences in the U.S. and South America.

According to a press release from the Galveston Police Department, witnesses observed Mings sitting by himself on the waters edge early Monday afternoon. Police called to the scene found Mings laying partially in the water, dead from a single gunshot wound to the head.

While the circumstances surrounding Mings' tragic death are not known publicly at this time, a recent study found that depression among attorneys is on the rise, coinciding with increasingly bleak economic forecasts.

One expert has claimed that the typical personality traits and training of lawyers often prevents them from seeking treatment for emotional problems and substance abuse, which in turn leads to higher rates of depression in the profession. The American Bar Association has found that suicide among lawyers occurs two to six times more than among the general population.

Almost a year ago the former chair of Kilpatrick Stockton's Supreme Court and appellate advocacy practice, Mark Levy, committed suicide in the firm's Washington, D.C., office after losing his job in a round of layoffs. In December the suicide of a Connecticut real estate lawyer was linked to a drop off in his practice.

For anyone out there struggling with issues they feel are outside their control, the ABA and most state bar associations have programs that cater to lawyers in distress.

Mings is survived by his wife and two children. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to "The John Mings Memorial Fund" at Baker & Hostetler.

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My thoughts and prayers go it to his family. It is tough out here for lawyers and everybody.

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