Being a lawyer is reason enough to be stressed out, never mind when you factor in the adversarial nature of the profession, the views that society has about lawyers, and the increasing complexity of practicing law in today’s day and age.
Years ago, we attended a trade show where we received a copy of a flier titled, Why Are Lawyers So Stressed? It was published by The Complete Lawyer, a web-based magazine for attorneys. The flier shared information, amongst other topics, about the types of pressures that attorneys deal with on a daily basis.
22 years later, I still have that flier tacked to a vision board above my desk. It’s a constant reminder to stay focused on the value that Hiring & Empowering Solutions brings to its clients—simply put, we alleviate the pressures that lawyers and their teams face.
The factors outlined in the flier included the following:
1. Not enough time! Unforgiving time constraints make meeting deadlines a constant source of stress.
2. High stakes cases, in which the client’s property, freedom, or even life is dependent on the outcome.
3. The desire for unambiguous clarity where none exists, for example, when clients expect that an attorney possesses a certain level of expertise
4. Constantly feeling as though you’re being scrutinized by colleagues, judges and juries.
5. Being in a constant state of conflict with the opposing counsel and their desire to prove you wrong—whether now or later
6. Having to meticulously “cover your backside,” thanks to a persistent fear of malpractice claims and Murphy’s law
7. Taking on the burdens of your clients…on top of the burdens that go hand-in-hand with running a law firm, plus any personal burdens you’re carrying around
8. Professional cordiality has become a thing of the past, and the legal landscape is getting more hostile by the day
9. Balancing your personal style with your professional training; being aggressive, judgmental, intellectual, emotional, withdrawn…each of these styles may have practical value in the courtroom, but not so much in the office.
10. The mental and emotional cost of constant vigilance in a world where you are expected to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, all the time
11. The need to stay focused and on-task, even when you’re completely drained of your energy from meeting intense demands, day in and day out.
12. Leveraging your defense mechanisms too often; having to be rigid, compulsive or otherwise “perfect”
13. The need to bill, bill, bill—meeting billable hours expectations is NOT easy!
In my experience working with more than 300 law firms, I can absolutely confirm that attorneys are STILL dealing with these same stressors—23 years after the original article was published. Attorneys are STILL stressed and depressed and misunderstood by their employees and alienated from them (and the rest of the world) because of these pressures.
So…what can an attorney do about these pressures? How can they come to understand the true nature of the beast and put support mechanisms in place to keep these stressors at bay?
Well, empowering their teams is a good start.
An empowered team can be a HUGE help in reducing the stress that a solo practitioner or small firm attorney feels. Through our Team Empowerment Academy, we’ve been working with law firms and their teams for decades…teaching skills that help team members help their attorneys, and that turn “managers” into true leaders. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to bring us up to speed on your pain points, and learn how we could help alleviate them.