Coping With the Stress of Being a Lawyer

It is well known that stress and anxiety can have debilitating effects on the mind and body that can lead to depression. Lawyers in particular are no strangers to the effects of stress.

According to a Johns Hopkins University study of over 100 occupations, researchers found that lawyers reported the highest rate of depression in the country - a rate of 3.6 times that of the other professions examined. Practicing law can often be demanding, stressful, and overwhelming. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to help alleviate your stress and maintain an enjoyable practice.

Write It Down

As an attorney, you have a lot on your plate. You may feel overwhelmed with the pile of paperwork waiting for you at your desk, all of the hearings you need to attend this month, and the various tasks related to managing a law office or legal practice in general.

The first step to tackling your daily workload is to write down all of the tasks you need to accomplish so you see everything listed rather than letting your mind constantly struggle to keep track of your tasks and commitments. Writing it all out on paper is a great way to clear your mind so you can focus on one task at a time.

Prioritize & Delegate When Possible

After you’ve listed the work you need to accomplish for the day, you can decide what is most urgent and important, such as preparing for an upcoming hearing. Whichever tasks bring you and your clients the most value and have a fast-approaching deadline should be given higher priority.

For example, you may feel overwhelmed by tasks that can be easily delegated, such as sending Medical Evidence Requests to hospitals on behalf of clients. Once you pinpoint a task that can be performed by someone who’s not an attorney, you can have a paralegal or secretary lighten your load, giving you time to focus on more important matters.

If you have a small firm and can’t afford to hire more employees, consider hiring a legal intern for a few months. You will benefit from part-time assistance, as well as determine whether a paralegal or intake assistant could help you in the long run.

Use Technology

There are several timesaving tools available to lawyers to help them manage their time, cases, and clients. Case management software can help you manage and keep track of your cases and tasks. If you’re not sure how you spend your day outside of hearings, time-tracking software can show you what you spend most of your time on so you can try to streamline those tasks. If your office spends a large amount of time sending faxes to medical providers and other contacts, consider using an e-fax service that allows you to email documents rather than scanning and faxing each sheet.

Identify where you could be more organized and productive and research your options for tools that can help save you time, manage your tasks, and ease your mind.

Get Help

If you are suffering from excessive anxiety and stress, you are not alone. The legal profession is one of the most stressful occupations today. Check with your peers and local Bar Associations for tips on how to cope with stress. Many Bar Associations provide various programs to not only help you excel in your legal career but also to manage your stress, anxiety, and depression.

Overall, take a breath, prioritize your tasks, and focus on the task at hand to reduce stress, increase productivity and improve the quality of your work.

Try out eLuminate, our case management software, to simplify your daily tasks reduce stress.

Resources

Eaton, W.W. (1990). Occupations and the prevalence of major depressive disorder. Journal of Occupational Medicine, 32 (11), 1079-1087.