Numerous factors can contribute to lawyers being so stressed out, including the adversarial nature of the profession, society’s view of the lawyers, and the increasing complexity of practicing law.
In spring 1997 we attended a tradeshow where we received a copy of a flyer titled “Why are Lawyers So Stressed?” published by The Complete Lawyer a web-based magazine for attorneys. This flyer provides lawyers, and the staff working with them, such insight to the pressures an attorney deals with every day, Molly has had this flyer on her vision board for the past 12 years as a constant reminder as she talks with law firm teams! We thought it was more than timely to share it now.
What are some of the factors, leading to such a high rate of depression among lawyers?
1. Time constraints and deadlines.
2. Taking on high-stakes cases that involve a client’s loss of property, freedom or even life.
3. Clients’ expectation that lawyers possess a certain level of expertise; our desire for unambiguous clarity where none may exist.
4. Work product is always under constant scrutiny and critical judgment by fellow lawyers, judges and juries.
5. Conflict with other parties; opposing counsel’s desire to prove us wrong, now or later.
6. Fear of malpractice claims, Murphy’s Law and CYB (covering your backside).
7. Assumption of our clients’ burdens when they leave the office.
8. Demise of professional cordiality.
9. Professional training versus our own personal style; an aggressive, judgmental, intellectual and emotionally defended or withdrawn style may have practical value; but may be not so popular outside, or even sometimes inside the office.
10. Being trained to anticipate the negative potentials of a given situation; the cost of constant vigilance in a threatening world.
11. Depletion of energy from high demands; the need to stay focused and on task.
12. Frequent use of defense mechanisms such as rigidity, compulsiveness and perfectionism.
13. Adherence to group norms; meeting billable hour expectations.
After working with 300+ law firms we can attest that not only do we agree with the identified risk factors by The Complete Lawyer™ but we can confirm that over 98% of the law firms we work with ARE living the pain and stress today, 13 years after this article was originally published. Not only are attorneys stressed and/or depressed, but they are often misunderstood by their employees and alienated from them by these pressures.
So, HOW and WHAT do we do about it? And how can you help the staff you pay to support you understand these pressures and help put in support mechanisms to overcome them?
Find out November 5th at 4-5pm EST. Register you and your staff now for our complimentary webinar “The Attorney and Team Mindset Necessary to Create an Extraordinary Practice”. Limited space – click here to register now!