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Coping with stress in law firms

Wednesday 15th May | News

In Mental Health Awareness Week, Amanda Sime writes about the issues that can arise when working in a law firm and has some stress-busting suggestions.

Working in a fast-paced office can often be stressful, and it is vitally important to manage this stress so it does not encroach into your personal life.

Liverpool Law Society says that it is logical for firms to take care of their staff’s mental health; happy employees lead to greater productivity, better morale, better retention of valued and experienced staff and reduced sickness absence.

Here are some tips for reducing stress at work.

Have you ever received an email saying you’ve done a good job or that’s made you smile? Make a ‘happy’ emails folder and review these when you need cheering up!

According to forbes.com, modern workers are interrupted 7 times an hour and distracted up to 2.1 hours day. If there is a task that is really stressing you out, minimise your emails and mute your phone. Limiting your distractions will help get the urgent task done much quicker and reduce stress levels.

Try and get out the office! If it’s a nice day go and take a 10 minute walk. There are limitless benefits from this and exercise is proven to lift your mood and clear your mind!

Prioritise! You cannot do everything for everybody – make a list of priorities each day and work from your list, again limiting your distractions. If you can, delegate some tasks.

Download some apps: a highly recommended one is Hub of Hope.

Sit comfortably – make sure your chair and screens are correctly adjusted.

Talk to your colleagues; it’s likely they have felt the same in the past and can offer advice and guidance.

Make sure to practise self-care outside of work. Take a bath, read a book, do whatever helps you unwind. LawCare’s blog on “Lawyers and vicarious trauma” discusses how a typical solicitor’s day is likely to involve hearing about something bad happening to a client. There are clear links between legal work and secondary traumatic stress.

Vicarious trauma can make us feel the same feelings our clients felt at the time of an incident. The blog states that “by simply acknowledging the inevitable effect of working with some of the cases that we do, we can help reduce the severity of the impact. To do this, we need space and time…to reflect, to share experiences with peers and supervisors, and to learn techniques to improve how we copy with the effects.” By doing this, we can experience what is called “vicarious resilience”; taking our client’s sadness and stress on board but growing and becoming stronger from it.

LawCare is a charity offering emotional support to legal professionals. They can be contacted on 0800 279 6888, or via email at support@lawcare.org.uk.

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