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Manhattan Law Clerk Jumps to Death, Like Lawyer Before Him

A clerk at a Manhattan law firm leapt to his death this week, a month after a lawyer at a nearby law firm committed suicide the same way.

Ken Freeling, an attorney at Covington & Burlington, plunged to his death from his ninth story apartment in March. The clerk, unidentified at the scene on April 10, jumped from the 10th floor offices of Satterlee Stephens.

The deaths appear unrelated, except for the fact that both victims worked at law firms five blocks from each other. It almost goes without saying that law firm life is notoriously stressful, as the American Bar Association acknowledges on its website.

Greater Risk for Suicide

"Lawyers are not immune to suicide," the ABA says. "As research suggests that lawyers experience depression and substance abuse at higher rates than the general population, lawyers may be at a greater risk for suicide."

Freeling, 59, was of counsel at Covington & Burlington and a former partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf. That firm collapsed in scandal.

According to the American Lawyer, a bank claimed Freeling owed $361,000 to cover the balance of a loan used to finance his ownership in the defunct firm. He sued the bank, but a judge dismissed his complaint in 2016.

At the time of his death, police reported that Freeling had been battling with mental health issues and depression. His son, Sam, also took his own life four years ago.

Unanswered Questions

Freeling's death was the second suicide at a Manhattan high-rise that week, where another man leapt from his apartment. On Monday this week, no one from the law firm commented to the press about the clerk's death there.

However, a FedEx employee who made deliveries to the mailroom at the firm said the man looked upset when he last saw him.

"He was quiet and on his phone," he told the New York Post. "It looked like he was stressed as hell."

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