Lawyer stress

Lawyers Stress: How Can A Lawyer Manage The Stress

Is being a lawyer stressful?

Legal practice is not the glamour profession displayed on the television screens. As a lawyer there is need to work for long hours in a rapidly changing legal landscape due to the pressure to generate business. The workload is too much and time is never enough. The senior partners are on the lawyer’s case to perform, there are difficult clients that want you to work on their case only and not to mention the briefs that are waiting on you. On a single day, the lawyers get exhausted and overwhelmed. It does not matter whether you are working in a private law firm, government agency, large or small law firm, the adversarial nature of law practice makes it one of the most stressful professions.

Lawyers stress anxiety

There are so many responsibilities vying for the attorney’s attention that it can be paralyzing at the exact moment when action is needed. The lawyer’s job description can be difficult and demanding. The deadlines are on a daily basis and thus the working hours have to be long. This billablehour’s requirements are inescapable and time never seems to be enough to get everything done. Office politics is also a must just like any other profession, adding an extra layer of stress to the mix. Competition in the legal practice is fierce. Everyone wants that promotion, dreams of making partner and getting a good office with air conditioning and a nice view. There are no terms like friendship or loyalty, everyone is fighting to survive. Tough cases, demanding clients, opposing counsel, rude judges, the list is endless.

Lawyers and stress statistics

A study conducted by johns Hopkins in 1990 found that lawyers were the most likely to suffer from depression. Startling facts indicate that entering law school, law students have a psychological profile similar to that of the general public, but after law school, 20-40% have a psychological dysfunction.  This distress and dissatisfaction follow many law graduates into practice leading to chronic stress that trigger clinical depression. Sadly, 15% of the attorneys with clinical depression result to commit suicide. Research shows that lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than non-lawyers.

Why are lawyers so unhappy?

A new study conducted by the American Bar Association, depression and anxiety among the lawyers lead to substance abuse, particularly drinking. Everyone in three lawyers is a problem drinker, 28% suffer from depression and 19% portray symptoms of anxiety.

A 2014 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, lawyers working in the law firms had the highest rates of alcohol abuse, junior associates reporting the highest rate of the drinking problem. Drinking has been inculcated into the legal practice as a coping mechanism. Problem drinking has been normalized into within many law firms, and in addition, law firms encourage the attorneys to socialize with the clients, which often involve alcohol. However, the frequent drinking began in law school and the first 15 years of practice, demonstrating that being in the early stages of the legal career, the stress levels are high strongly correlating with a high risk of developing alcohol disorder. “This data is very alarming and paints a picture of an unsustainable professional culture that is harming too many people,” Mr. Krill

Attorney stress management

Below are among the techniques that have proven useful for some people when it comes to stress management.

1. Time management

Time waits for no man, and no matter how rich or powerful a person can be there is no way one can purchase this perishable commodity, it’s the most expensive commodity on earth. Therefore it’s important to prioritize.  Prioritize those jobs according to importance and urgency. It will be easier if you make a list of long term projects and task and another for every day to do list. It sometimes wise to keep busy with a low priority task than tackling an onerous project. Break those large tasks into smaller manageable tasks as this will give you an idea of how long the entire task will take.  On making a list of big cases and small projects plan an actionable step and set deadlines to avoid late night freak-out.

2. Delegate

Do not be a perfectionist. It is okay to give up control to your support staff. Let the paralegals or assistants help you proofread that document, a fresh pair of eyes will easily point out the mistakes.

3. Try and relax

There are many situations that you will have to work under a lot of pressure, it’s thus important you learn to focus and do not let anxiety distract you.  Rejuvenate your focus by standing from your seat and stretching.  Practice breathing modulation. Focus on your breathing by closing your eyes and counting to five as you breathe in and out slowly. If done properly this should decrease your stress levels and decrease that heart rate.

4. Get a hobby

Do not center your life on your work. Get outside the workplace and clear your mind by doing something that will elevate your spirit. Socialize, do some exercises or a sport that you enjoy. This will bring a sense of meaning to your life, you will feel happier and healthier.

5. Plan

Keep a calendar whether electronic or paper. This will enable you to keep track of appointments, hearings, and meetings or any scheduled event. Revisit your to do list monthly for updates and still get to finish what needs to be done.

Attorney stress

Technology is slowly substituting lawyers in the legal practice, decreasing the workload and presenting the lawyers new opportunities. A tech savvy person will easily obtain legal products from the internet avoiding the billing and consultation hassles of the lawyers.

In order to decrease the escalating stress levels in the legal practice, it’s advisable for lawyers to practice law because they enjoy it and not to maximize economic return. As an attorney, be more transparent, embrace new innovations, and focus on delivering solutions and legal services more efficiently and collaboratively.