It’s no secret that lawyers are stressed.
Burnout among the legal profession is widespread, and although mental health awareness is growing, lawyers continue to routinely score highly in both scepticism and perfectionism, and poorly in resilience.
Many lawyers’ day-to-day involves dealing with the most vulnerable members of society, or highly stressed and demanding clients. The stakes can be incredibly high, and even the smallest of setbacks can feel devastating.
Here are three causes of low resilience among lawyers, and the best ways to tackle them.
Law is a competition sport. From being accepted into university, to securing a grad job, making your way through the ranks, and wooing the best clients, a career in law can feel like a race from start to finish. The lawyers who are successful tend to be perfectionists.
Perfectionists are hard workers, detail-orientated and driven by success. They also tend to have low resilience. For perfectionists, setbacks can feel like absolute failures, and it can be difficult to bounce back.
It’s easier said than done, but try not to be so hard on yourself. There’s a difference between perfectionism and good, solid work – it’s usually an eight-hour sleep.
Practice thinking of setbacks as something that you can learn from, rather than something to be embarrassed or stressed about. Admit to your failings and then look forward to the future.
Thinking Like a Lawyer
All lawyers, regardless of speciality, are trained from university to do their due diligence: to try and anticipate negative outcomes and possible problems.
A good ability to foresee problems makes a good technical lawyer; however, turning your focus from the negative when you leave the office for the night can be difficult. It can affect your daily interactions with clients or colleagues, and your relationships with your family and friends.
The best way to avoid falling into the trap of ‘thinking like a lawyer’ every second of your life is a good self-care routine. Set boundaries around the hours that your work, and do your best to stick with them.
Focus energy on the positive parts of your life – your relationships, hobbies, pets or interests. Cultivate relationships with colleagues who will support a positive mindset in the office.
Lawyers are a stereotypically proud breed, a trait that is indispensable for many parts of the role.
A bold manner or affirmative tone can be the key to convincing the jury or reassuring your clients. A drive to be the best lawyer you can be will ensure your clients are given the best representation you can offer.
But big egos can make setbacks or losses feel disastrous, especially when it seems as though everyone around you is succeeding.
It’s important to avoid tying failures into your sense of personal worth – think relatively about the issue. Can it be fixed? Can it be mitigated? Is it actually as bad as it seems?
A final tip – begin to think of emotional resilience as part of the many skills that you need to be a good lawyer. Put it alongside attention to detail, professionalism and a good client manner. Encourage your colleagues to work out their resilience alongside you, and the mental health of the legal industry will improve drastically.