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Legal Burnout: The Signs and The Solution

It was discovered in a recent survey that 18% of people working in law delivered upwards of 10 hours unpaid overtime every week, this made their working hours 125% of those in other professions.

Sadly, for anyone who works in the legal sector this information won’t be surprising – You’re often known for your dedication to your role but also for being susceptible to burnout.

We’re not pretending to be experts in the legal field, but our extensive experience in working with solicitors means that we’ve seen the pressures associated with teh roles.

Join us as we run through a few of the burnout warning signs and put forward some tips to attempt to avoid legal burnout and promote a healthier way of working.

Spotting legal burnout

Before we get onto how to prevent burnout, it’s important to be able to identify the warning signs; Whether you’re looking to spot it in yourself, colleagues or friends and family, it is important to know when it is rearing its head.

Let us use a fictitious character, ‘Amy’, a Paralegal from Newcastle as an example, she has two children, lives off Starbucks coffee and her team brand her as a ‘work-a-holic.’

Amy’s colleague Sarah is worried about her and notices that she is displaying the following signs:

  • An incredibly busy schedule
  • Self-doubt and lack of belief in their abilities
  • Tiredness
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Professional performance starts to slip
  • Headaches and migraines

Taking the above information into account, it is evident that Amy is on the brink of burnout if not already there, if you know someone displaying the same behaviours, action is definitely needed.

In terms of a next step, how can Amy improve her work-life balance? There are a few ways, Let’s take a look…

Be aware of the signs

Our first tip is pretty self-explanatory: When treating or preventing legal burnout, you should always be on the lookout for signs that the person’s or your own condition is worsening.

Being self-aware will allow you to take a step back when necessary and being aware of others will allow you to identify red-flags that they may not be able to see in themselves.

If any of the signs are present, you can turn to the following tips to regain control.

Outline boundaries

Boundaries are a really healthy way to manage your professional life and most importantly to avoid those tendencies that lead to burnout.

Some good examples of boundaries are:

  • Not working at the weekend
  • Always making time to break for lunch
  • Only checking and responding to emails during a dedicated period
  • Asking colleagues not to call/put clients through to you after a certain time

Though sticking to them may be hard initially, boundaries like these will ingrain a positive work ethic within you and help you to steer-clear of the dreaded B-word!

Self-care

If you’ve take our advice with our previous tip, you’ve got your professional life down to a T, now its time for your personal life: Your time outside of work.

Taking time out of your evening or weekend to do something that you enjoy is a great way to relieve stress and have fun! This could be yoga, catching up with friends, reading a book, going on a walk or having a bath; it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, only that you enjoy doing it!

legal burnout

Smart workflow

A lawyer’s role requires them to spend a lot of time on admin duties, in fact, Metajure states that lawyers spend up to 6 hours per week on document management – That is nearly a whole working day!

Writing up attendance notes, composing emails and writing up contracts are huge tasks and the pressures of such can be a key contributor to legal burnout.

That being said, there are so many new and exciting technologies out there that can insure a more efficient and quicker way to capture the said documentation, and no we’re not talking about analogue tapes – They need to go!

Digital dictation is a popular method with our legal clients, but more recently, the launch of Dragon Legal Anywhere is allowing legal professionals to create more accurate and quicker documentation – Try it for free here.

“Thanks to Dragon, the fee earners reply to emails not just quickly, but in more detail than they may have done if they were typing. After all, we are not typists, and talking to create a response is far easier.”

John Wood, PGS Law – Read full story

Flexible working

There is a significant shift in how businesses view working since the pandemic, so much so that they’re embracing flexible working: A hybrid of office-based and home working.

Therefore, identifying when your most productive hours are would be extremely beneficial and allow you to play to your strengths. For example, if you work best during the hours of 7-3, then could you work during these times? After all, there is no sense in forcing productivity, as most of the time, it goes the other way!

Obviously this is something that can be put forward to Directors, but Mark Gainsford’s LinkedIn videos show just how much flexible working can improve a team’s well-being.

legal burnout

There’s no B in team!

A massive part in avoiding burnout is working closely with your team – Legal professionals often feel like they need to do everything themselves, when in reality, this isn’t healthy or sustainable.

Delegating work to other members of the team or asking for support is not only helpful in terms of reducing your workflow but also in loosening the reins and creating a healthier work life.

All in all, it is possible to come back from burnout and a less-stressed life, and we hope these tips will be useful in helping you to do that.

Have you recovered from burnout? What worked for you? Tweet us your answers here.

We’d be more than happy to speak to law firms in more detail about how speech recognition can improve your workflow, please contact us to receive your free workflow consultancy meeting.

Watch Dragon in action in this short legal demonstration via the Dragon Anywhere Group app…

Category:
Date:
July 20, 2021
Reading Time:
5mins
legal burnout