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COVID-19 and Your Legal Career – How to Manage Stress Like an Expert

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

Professionals in every sector have to deal with some level of stress throughout their career, and the life of a busy legal employee is no different.

Whether you're a Family Solicitor working on a particularly challenging case, or a Paralegal with an increasing number of claims to get through – stress affects us all.

But the added difficulties of COVID-19 has increased the chance of professionals succumbing to stress and has made life altogether more challenging.

And as April 2020 was Stress Awareness Month in the UK, I thought now was an appropriate time to support legal professionals in managing stress through the remainder of lockdown by sharing some helpful advice a mentor gave me in the previous challenging times of 2008 and 2009.

 

1. Planning Ahead

One of the best ways legal professionals can manage stress is to avoid overwhelm – and you can do this through careful planning.

Of course, there is a lot of uncertainty around what the future holds, but more specifically, how long things are going to take to get back to normal. The truth is, we can't be sure how long this timeframe will be, but what we can do is to plan for things we do know.

It is likely that your calendar currently looks quite different from what it was pre-COVID-19. If you are still working on cases, are you working with a reduced amount? Or have the time frames been extended?

Things are changing rapidly right now, so flexible planning is needed to reduce stress. If a case is brought forward, extended or put on hold, you need to be able to factor this in as soon as you know. So keep in contact with any colleagues who are still working, clients and anyone else involved in cases as much as you possibly can – which brings me on to my next point.

 

2. Stay Connected

While working from home, it might feel as though some individuals who you usually have regular contact with have dropped off your radar.

This could be furloughed colleagues, associated insurers and your wider legal community in general. Feeling isolated can increase stress, just as feeling connected to a support network can reduce it.

Stay connected as much as you can to all of the people you usually interact with. This can be a combination of sending emails and personal messages to colleagues, attending webinars run by legal professionals and even commenting and interacting with your peers on LinkedIn.

 

3. Take Time Out

The change from our regular working lives to being contained at home has been a significant source of stress for some people.

If you're still working on cases from home, the added pressure of trying to achieve the same results from an unusual or challenging environment can make even easy tasks seem overwhelming.

Perhaps you're self-isolating with children, partners and pets with whom you have to contend with all while attempting to get your work done.

It is essential to take regular breaks and take time out if you start to feel as though things are getting on top of you. When we work from home, it can be easy for our work and home lives to merge, but it is essential to prevent this from happening.

Where possible, keep to your regular working hours. Unless it is necessary, don't be tempted to jump on your laptop or make calls outside of your working hours – remember that downtime is key to preventing stress.

 

4. If You Are On Furlough

Furloughed legal employees can be susceptible to stress over the uncertainty of when you will return to work, and under what conditions. The additional concern about the reduction in your wages (if you've gone down to 80% pay) can exacerbate stress. A recent YouGov poll found that 55% of people are now worried about their families’ finances.

What furloughed employees should remember is that they're not alone – more than 4 million UK employees have been furloughed. Experts predict that the government will ease the lockdown slowly throughout May, with a return to a new normal following in the weeks and months afterwards.

The following are what to do if you're feeling stressed due to being furloughed -

  • Reach out – there are plenty of schemes that have been put in place to help employees just like you, whether that's contacting your bank about a reduction in your mortgage, or contacting your local authority to find out what other help is available to you.
  • Keep track – create a budget and check your finances once a week to stay on track.
  • Stay up to date with the news – the situation is changing rapidly at the moment, but staying in the know can help you feel in control.
  • Keep in touch with your employer – they should be able to keep you regularly updated with the latest information regarding your furlough and your return to work.

 

Finally

The NHS has recognised that stress caused by the upheaval and worries associated with coronavirus is a significant problem. So much so that there is a dedicated section of their website which deals with coronavirus-related stress which you can read here.

If you're a legal professional currently looking for employment, or are thinking about the future of your legal career – we can help with advice and job opportunities. Browse our current vacancies here, or get in touch with our team today to find out more.

 

Thanks,

Lynn

 

About Clayton Legal 

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999, and during that time has built up an excellent reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers. 

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help.  Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here. 

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here. 

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