5 Ways to Deal with Stress as a Lawyer in 2022

February 22, 2022
 min read

It has been reported that more than 90% of junior lawyers suffer from anxiety, stress, or depression; almost half of lawyers feel they work under unrealistic time pressures; and more than 77% of lawyers thought their law firms could do more to support their wellbeing at work.

Trends around mental health and culture in the legal profession can be missed in the strive for competitiveness. A positive mindset and work culture can go a long way in increasing positive outcomes for law firms overall.

A lawyer’s sense of personal achievement and individual purpose in the workplace is integral to this. To not just prevent burnout but to make work serve you, consider these 5 ways to deal with stress as a lawyer.

1. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries

Law firms can strengthen the boundaries between home and work by improving the infrastructure of the firm. Using the latest technology available can make it easier for lawyers to ‘switch off’ when out of work hours, even when working from home. Lawyers can return to work the next day feeling refreshed and more capable of facing challenges in work.

For example, moving from desk phones to cloud-based phone systems reduces the need for lawyers to use their personal phone numbers for work, while still being flexible and productive. Many law firms are already following this practice.

Cloud based calls make it effortless to create a work number that redirects calls received outside of set work hours. This means that as a lawyer, you can use your phone or laptop to make and receive calls from your work number. That same device can then be used outside of work hours for your personal use, without work calls incoming. Voicemails left outside of work hours will be transcribed and ready for your viewing when you’re back in the office, so you can leave work at work.

2. Work smart, not hard

The non-billable time spent completing repetitive tasks can reduce your sense of satisfaction in your work. In an environment of deadlines, billables, and expectations, such repetitive work can reduce motivation and productivity.

Consider using automation software to speed up how this repetitive work is completed. Automation tools have become smarter and more useful, saving some law firms hundreds of hours or thousands of dollars a week while reducing compliance risk.

One aspect your law firm could automate is the tasks associated with phone calls. Smart calling systems can make it easier for you to make calls from any device convenient to you, and integrate with the practice management system your law firm uses. Timestamps, notes, and transcriptions are collected by one app that can be accessed on any device with internet. Making use of such technologies can help you feel that your time is used on more meaningful work.

3. Reduce personal responsibility

To err is human. So, use technology to support you and your work. Mistakes are inevitable and in the legal profession can have serious consequences. However, this internal and external pressure to perform perfectly can also have serious consequences, and may even make it more likely for mistakes to occur.

Consider using technology to double-check your work, thereby reducing the likelihood of mistakes occurring and the personal pressure to be ‘perfect’. Good record keeping can be made easier with automatic technology processes. Smart calling solutions can be set to automatically record all calls with clients. These recordings can be saved as audio files that are found in the phone system and can be referred to in the future if required.  

4. Communicate broadly

Not only can better communication help maintain a positive work environment, but tasks can be completed more efficiently and to a higher standard. Passing on your needs and constructive feedback to others can deescalate the unspoken pressures experienced by all lawyers in law firms.

Junior members, remember to ask for help and use all the resources available to you to make work easier. Senior members, respect the time of junior members and make yourself approachable to other members. Consider switching to a cloud-based call system that makes it easy to transfer calls between colleagues and clients, and to know when your colleagues are available to accept calls.

Communication outside of work is just as important. Just as clients come to you for legal help, you should be prepared to consult a mental health professional if needed. Constant feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety should not be accepted as part of the profession. Being a member of the legal profession should be a privilege, not a burden.

5. Work to live, don’t live to work

Finally and most importantly, remember that you work to live, not vice versa. Consider whether you are achieving the most out of your life in its current balance of work and play. Like with your physical health, neglecting your mental health may have long-term effects on your career and your overall satisfaction with life. But equilibrium is achievable through shifting your priorities.

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