Psychological Stress Among Lawyers

Long working hours, complex cases, and dealing with clients are some of the factors that lead to psychological stress among legal professionals.
Psychological Stress Among Lawyers

Last update: 04 October, 2022

Psychological stress among lawyers is more common than you might think. Although these professionals are seen in society as those who deal with others’ problems, in reality, their work presents them with a psychological burden that, sooner or later, takes its toll. After all, it’s a job focused on resolving human conflicts which can often be quite complex and controversial.

Research shared in the Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology suggests that stress levels vary between criminal and civil lawyers. This is due to the nature of the job and its responsibilities. It’s a problem that requires control since it not only affects the ability to excel in the legal sector but can also lead to physical health problems.

Why does psychological stress occur among lawyers?

It’s inevitable that employees in the legal sector are constantly exposed to stressful situations. Clients require many problems to be solved, ranging from child custody to economic claims and criminal matters, among others.

On the one hand, there are those who ask, allege, argue, demand, and defend, and on the other those who impose, defend, absolve, or concede. Whatever their specific function, the job is accompanied by demanding workloads, customer expectations, complexities, and decision-making that vary from case to case.

Why does psychological stress occur among lawyers?

Associated factors

To summarize, the following factors affect the psychological stress of lawyers:

  • Workload and pace. In this profession, it’s difficult to have control over the workload. For this reason, two particular situations can arise that affect stress; overwork or a lack of work.
  • Work scheduling. Unlike other professions, the work schedule isn’t fixed and is largely determined by the number of cases and deadlines. Many times, this leads to a reduction in rest periods.
  • Poor time management. Sometimes, beyond the workload, the trigger for stress is poor time management. Ideally, the tasks should be subdivided in order of importance so the right amount of time can be dedicated to each one.
  • Physical agents. Environmental agents such as noise, temperature, light intensity, and clutter can affect comfort levels.
  • Interpersonal relationships. Poor communication with customers, managers, and external staff can trigger tension and stress. Therefore, it’s essential that the lawyer knows how to communicate with respect, coherence, determination, and trust.
  • Means of communication used. For convenience or ease, increasingly more professionals use means such as WhatsApp to communicate with their clients. However, this situation is also linked with stress, as lawyers often have difficulty separating their personal lives from their professional lives. This means they frequently feel the need to respond to messages immediately, even when they’re with their families or not working.

How to deal with this kind of stress

Lawyers must pay attention to their mental health to perform well. As well as recognizing the problem, they should look for possible solutions. Although some triggers of stress can’t be modified, certain strategies can help mitigate them.

  • Time management. Divide tasks according to their level of importance. It’s advisable to write them down in a journal.
  • Adequate preparation of cases. Exposure to public settings has a significant impact on the psychological stress of lawyers. As paradoxical as it may seem, many professionals in this area experience stage fright. Therefore, prior preparation of cases can greatly reduce their feelings of insecurity and anxiety.
  • Organization of the workspace. As in other jobs, a comfortable and orderly workspace is key to good performance. They should avoid clutter and have all the necessary tools to hand.
  • Seek psychological help. Since lawyers are a population at high risk of suffering from work stress, mental health prevention plans must be implemented in these kinds of work environments. Indeed, a psychologist can help develop effective strategies for stress management.

Last but not least, it’s paramount that lawyers pay attention to their lifestyles. They can do this by learning to unwind, eating a healthy diet, and exercising. They also contribute to good mental health.

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