Prabhaker N Thakur
Lawyer Stress and its Solutions

Lawyer Stress and its Solutions

Stress is a burden nearly everyone carries. Especially lawyer stress is well known and studied.

Between work, bills, family and the pressures of daily life, stress can easily overcome a person’s life. The life of a lawyer is filled with constant confrontation and competition, and at times the stress can be more than one can bear.

Certainly the career of a lawyer is not for the faint of heart. Arguments are a cause of stress in anyone’s life, yet the lawyer spends his or her entire day in well-researched, well-rehearsed disagreements that greatly affect the lives of their clients.


Why is Lawyer Stress Different?

The lawyer must balance empathy with objective detachment and enjoy confrontation.

But even for the toughest of lawyers, stress, at some point or another, becomes an issue.

Lawyer stress is a heavily studied subject. With the long hours, pressure and intensity of the job, lawyers and other professionals experience, in some cases, serious anxiety.

The anxiety worsens as lawyers are pressured to make partner, move ahead, save clients and be constantly updating their knowledge of the law.

To relax may mean to miss an opportunity. The stress, if not managed, begins to affect the attorney’s practice, clients, colleagues, and their personal life. Chronic stress leads to anger and impatience, anxiety, irritability, fear and resentment of others.

If overloaded with stress the person is less able to concentrate and make decisions, a vital part of the lawyer’s job.


Chronic Lawyer Stress

There is a growing acceptance among the medical community that stress from working long hours causes clinical depression.

Michael Cohen, Executive Director of Florida Lawyers Assistance, presented unsettling statistics concerning attorney stress and depression at his seminar "practicing with Professionalism".

  • 15-18% of attorneys will have substance abuse problem vs. 10% of general population.

  • Over 1/3 of attorneys say they are dissatisfied and would choose another profession if they could.


Managing Lawyer Stress

In order to manage stress, the lawyer must first be aware of it.

Due to the fast pace, non-stop manner of the work, it can go unnoticed so long that it leads to depression.

But if found and managed properly, lawyers are able to live healthy, stress-free lives.

Many of the sources for stress are outside the attorney’s control: deadlines, lack of time, difficult clients, confrontation with the opposite counsel, etc. Because there is no way to avoid attorney stress, management is the only option.


Specific Lawyer Stress Managing Strategies

One of the most important, and most difficult, stress management technique is to cut out unrealistic goals.

An overworked lawyer is likely setting unreachable plans and, when he or she falls short of their expectations, more stress accumulates.

By setting small goals and accomplishing them one and a time, the lawyer can feel better about his or her achievements and no longer have to feel like a failure for not accomplishing an unreasonable amount of work for the day.

Another tool a stressed out lawyer should learn is to be able to say "no".

Attorneys experience stress when they have too much to do and not enough control over their work environment and schedule. To reduce the stress of feeling a lack of control, the lawyer should learn to become more assertive and set boundaries and limits on what is a sensible amount of work in a day.

Being a perfectionist, overachiever, or a people pleaser is sure to lead to more stress. By identifying these traits in oneself and working on eliminating them, stress will dissipate.

Lawyers often place their personal lives on the back burner, and work takes over. An imbalanced life, one that revolves solely around work, will inevitably be difficult and stressful. An imbalanced life can be caused by a longing for money or fame, idealism, or perfectionism.

By beginning their day with meditation, lawyer’s nerves are calmed and minds cleared from the negativity that bombards them on a daily basis. Meditation is simply the act of sitting alone, breathing deeply and getting past the “thinking” part of the brain and entering a deeper state of relaxation and awareness.

Attorneys and other professionals can also reduce stress by placing more emphasis on "me" time. Once an individual has lost time to explore his or her own activities, hobbies, and interests, he or she begins to feel like a drone, which will no doubt lead to stress and depression. A solution is to always incorporate alone time in the daily routine.

As stressful as a lawyer’s life can be, it doesn't have to be that way.

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