Tips and Tricks for Lawyers to Tackle Stress at Workplace

Whether running their own practice or employed by a law firm or corporates, attorneys try to balance various responsibilities adroitly. Considering an attorney’s daily life at work, it would be fair to say that they deal with several challenges like time management, coping with workload, staying strong in emotional situations, and many more that they usually end up stressed. Although many attorneys use legal outsourcing services to manage workload, which helps them relieve stress to some extent, they need to find appropriate solutions to other problems that cause the most stress. 

What are the reasons behind attorneys’ stress? 

1. Client facing roles 

Attorneys mostly meet clients and prospects face-to-face. However, due to the impact of the recent pandemic, many people want to meet attorneys remotely. In both situations, it is usually challenging to deal with difficult personalities, all while keeping up with their responsibilities like sharing their emotional burden and empathizing with them.  

Additionally, it also usually becomes difficult to make people talk in detail, especially those who are not emotionally strong. 

2. Handling complex cases 

Practicing law is not something an ordinary person can do. On the contrary, it requires one to reflect professionalism (most of the time), have complete knowledge of the law system, and be determined to handle complex cases. However, while practicing in areas like criminal law, where an attorney needs to go deep into cases like physical assault or homicide, checking photographs, listening to witnesses, and performing never-ending research can soon make their work stressful. 

Adding to that can be the most significant impact on their emotional side when they talk to clients who have or are going through a serious trauma – things can get really stressful. 

 3. Long working hours

Need not mention attorneys work even when they go home after the job to catch up with clients, collect and prepare documents to present in a courtroom, etc. 

Let’s check this stat stating 75% of attorneys work outside of their defined working hours, according to the 2018 Legal Trends Report. Attorneys work around 50 hours a week, and many of them log around 100 hours extra for unplanned work. These long working days and extra hours add up over time, and everyone knows how overtime leads to work-related stress. 

 4. Frequently changing laws 

An attorney’s learning phase is not limited to their graduation. The legal profession makes them keep on learning until they stop their law practice. Rules and regulations slightly change over time, and new rules coming out can pose challenges to attorneys, and they have to keep themselves updated with the same. Doing the daily jobs is fine but if you have spent several days understanding a specific law and one day it is changed, now learning the new one becomes stressful. 

As now you know the main reasons behind any busy attorney’s stress, you can take helpful tips to manage it as an attorney. 

Helpful Tips for Attorneys to Cope with Stress 

1. Embrace Self-care Practices

(a) Eat healthy: Heavy workloads can lead to high stress that can further affect your eating habits and patterns, impacting your diet and metabolism, making you overeat or not eat at all – both are bad for your health. Therefore, following a healthy, balanced diet is crucial to keep your mood and body stable even amid stressful situations. 

(b) Keep yourself hydrated: Dehydration plays a crucial role in aggravating stress. Therefore, it is highly recommended to drink at least 2 to 4 liters of water every day. Water helps your body function nicely. 

 (c) Sleep well and enough: Being busy often leads to a lack of sleep, which increases the risk of stress turning into depression and other minor or major mental disorders. Hence, get a sleep of 7 to 9 hours each night. If you have issues sleeping on time or find It difficult to sleep after effort, you should do some exercises, for instance, walking, jogging, yoga, etc. This helps reduce anxiety and stress and enables you to sleep easily. 

 2. Adopt Best Practices for Healthy Work-From-Home Sessions

(a) Organize your desk: Keeping your work-space clean and organized makes you feel motivated and drives your willingness to work, helping you keep the stress controlled at minimal levels. 

(b) Stick to your schedule: A lot of stress comes from not keeping up with a schedule or not even having one. So make sure you prepare a to-do list (tasks and timings) and strictly stick to it. 

(c) Get dressed as usual: Getting well-dressed, to be precise, putting on your suit even while working from home is one of the best practices to self-care; in addition, it encourages you to maintain professionalism. Also, what if a client needs to talk to you over a video conference urgently? The answer is you would be all set and suited for the online client meeting. 

 3. Determine & Define Your Limits Clearly

Stress management is difficult, especially in a profession like legal, where attorneys deal with multiple clients and associates, handle several cases without finding if they have enough time or not. This is one big mistake they make. 

To help reduce stress, it is crucial to know your limit to handle a certain workload level and clearly define it. For example, say you are a solo practitioner, you should know how many cases you can take on; not to mention if you take on too many cases, it will, of course, add to your workload and increase stress leading to burnout. 

Similarly, if you are working for a law firm, you should clearly convey your limits so that they would know it and assign you cases accordingly – one of the best ways to avoid or at least reduce stress. 

 4. Set Personal Goals & Put Your Best to Meet Them

Having your goals predefined helps you utilize the power of your focus, which helps keep away the stress. Let’s discuss this excellent example here that speaks a lot. Imagine you are running aimlessly, not knowing where you want to reach; the run can anytime become exhausting. 

Whereas, if you can aim toward a finish-line and put your focus on it, it will keep away the distractions that cause or lead to stress. Also, setting clear goals and working to meet them empowers you to build strong feelings and control, which is helpful in dealing with stress effectively. 

 5. Focus on Better Finance Management

Many times, pending payments, late or non-paying clients, and mismanagement of finances can cause major stress in your life as an attorney. Besides, you often have your own tight budgets to manage your work that you obviously charge your client later while submitting billing papers. To help you manage your finances better, here are a couple of ways you can follow and improve finance management: 

(a) Consider expense management a big priority: Income always makes you happy, regardless of its size; however, on the contrary, there are always some expenses that can make us feel regret, for example, investing in a software program just because your mentor is using it. Therefore, check your statements weekly and point out unnecessary expenses you should avoid in the future. 

(b) Have multiple income sources: You can take on more cases to earn more, but again, you must ensure it doesn’t hamper your mental peace. Apart from that, depending upon your experience, you could become a freelance or guest lecturer or even join law schools as a temporary, contract-based law teacher. However, you need to be an expert at time management if you take on this option. You may also try writing informative legal-themed articles and send them to different websites to be featured as a guest legal writer. 

 6. Improve Some of Your Habits that Can Indirectly Cause Stress

  • Always striving for perfection 
  • Not reading and learning law amendments and new laws 
  • Saying yes to everything a client asks for 
  • Giving a commitment you know would be challenging to fulfill 
  • Going beyond your capabilities 
  • Sleeping less so you can work more 

Addressing these habits can bring a positive change in the way you deal with pressure, indirectly lowering your stress and reducing the chances of workplace burnout. 

Conclusion 

If you consider following these tips, actually paying attention to find what causes most of your stress, and then acting accordingly, you would successfully cope with your stress and balance your professional and personal life. 

Even after attempting to deal with stress, if you still feel overwhelmed, you may read about attorney stress problems and solutions online as you can find a large number of relevant blogs and articles on the web or talk to other lawyers around you and seek their guidance.