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How to deal with stress at work

  • October 18, 2016

It’s widely accepted that a career in the legal profession comes with its fair share of occupational stress, and according to a recent study by Keystone Law, nearly 70% of lawyers believe they work in the most stressful profession of them all. The research found that 67% of legal professionals felt they were more stressed than those working in other sectors, such as accountancy and banking, with only 4% believing they had an easier role.

As a result of the stress of the role, law firms look for the most resilient and hard-working candidates when recruiting at both ends of the scale. Training contract hopefuls will have to demonstrate their commitment to the career and strong work ethic, while partners will be expected to provide examples of strong leadership skills throughout times of significant pressure. So how can legal professionals manage stress at work and develop their resilience?

Manage your time proactively

Establishing an effective work life balance is easier said than done, particularly in the legal profession. The majority of lawyers work from the early morning through to the late hours of the evening, and often their time is consumed by ‘public’ work, for example client facing meetings or work lunches, leaving them to work late to finish their ‘private’ work such as researching and preparing for meetings. Try to manage your time as proactively as possible, and wherever possible schedule both your public and private work for during working hours, to help readjust your work life balance.

Avoid perfectionism

Lawyers are trained to believe that if they’ll ruin their chances of success if every last piece of work isn’t perfect. Perfectionism and unrealistic goal setting, will only lead to unobtainable expectations and undue stress. The nature of the legal profession means a lot of pressure is put on lawyers, and setting yourself unreachable goals will only lead to you putting even more pressure on yourself. So stop worrying about what you ‘should’ or ‘could’ have done to achieve a perfect outcome and focus on aiming to do the best you can in any given circumstance.

Spend time doing things you enjoy

With a career as time consuming as law it’s easy to neglect your interests outside of work, and often legal professionals are forced to cancel social plans to work on time consuming projects. However it’s crucial that you spend time cultivating your interests outside of work, if you become consumed by your work you’re more likely to feel unfulfilled and motivated when work is tough and demanding.

Ask for support

Unfortunately, given the pressure many legal professionals fell they’re under, some lawyers may be reluctant to seek support if they are struggling with stress. Asking for support does not mean you are any less capable or likely to succeed, it demonstrates that you are a responsible professional who recognises that stress can have an adverse effect on your work. It may simply be that your workload has increased sharply and you need someone to redistribute some of your additional work.

Clayton Legal runs career events all across the country for legal professionals. Take a look at our varied programme and de-stress your career hunt today. And for the latest opportunities check out our job pages

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