‘A Preventable Mess’: How Dementia Takes Toll on Aging Lawyers

(Bloomberg) — Robert Fritzshall had to be pushing 80, Bethany McLean thought, so she was a little surprised to hear him talk about expanding his law practice.His office was a bit dusty and cluttered with papers. There were files on the floor. She was concerned that he didn’t see the need to carry malpractice insurance. But she doesn’t remember anything being a red flag.“He was charismatic, enthusiastic,” she said. “A little eccentric.”Besides, she needed the job.The global financial crisis hadn’t eased up. Despite graduating near the top of her class and serving on the law review, she’d been biding her time at a Chicago-area WhirlyBall, booking children’s birthday parties.And he needed some help. Fritzshall & Associates comprised only Fritzshall, a legal intern, and his legal secretary, after the previous associate departed suddenly.McLean was thrilled when he extended her an offer, even if it was part time. When he agreed to get malpractice insurance, she accepted.It looked like her break.But within weeks, McLean would realize that Fritzshall was no longer capable of managing his practice. His cases were in disarray. Expanding was a fantasy. She recognized the signs of dementia from her grandmother’s decline.The experience would be the most harrowing and painful of her career. But it’s one that’s becoming a