“Nobody can save you but yourself, and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won, but if anything is worth winning then this is it.”
Lawyers are the second most stressed professionals in the country, as opined by a survey of 1,000 British workers. ‘I have it up to here’ is a term synonymous in the legal profession. Once the honeymoon period of law school ends, the professional life hits a budding lawyer like a lightning.
The onset of a student’s legal professional life brings with it a whirlpool of tasks, never-ending paperwork, chaotic last-minute preparations, and upheaval in one’s personal and emotional life. The paradigm of mental and emotional maturity for young lawyers encapsulates a plethora of things. At one end of the spectrum lies the need to immunize one’s mental health to the failures and the coldness faced in the profession. On the other end lies the need to resort to a polite and decent manner of communication while giving up negative personality traits.
As discussed beforehand, the focal point for one end of the spectrum debilitates upon ways and thoughts that can inoculate the negativity of the profession. Being bred on exaggerated and television influenced perception of the legal profession, the added obstacle of debt burden and high expectations of a client, provide room for mental illnesses to originate.
Being a lawyer makes you wear a bullseye on your back continuously. The clients expect from the lawyers whether beginners or seasoned, to perform miracles in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. This however sadly is not the case.
This article is here to help you navigate the apprehension and fear that comes with the legal profession, with maturity.
As a beginner legal professional, try to convey your priorities and way of functioning in a clear-cut manner to the client. Do not try to create castle’s in the air for your clients as that will, later on, dig a grave for your mental health. Ask them politely to vest their faith in you but at the same time convey to them that you are also a human being like them and not some higher power.
Being professional in your approach towards your interaction with the clients helps in maintain a dichotomy between professional and personal life. Mixing the professional and personal relationship will prove to be a toxic cocktail for mental resilience.
A legal professional is always faced with a disastrous storm of personality traits and career circumstances in every stage of his or her practice. However, in this profession, a mindset not bounded with prejudice and personal judgment helps to promote clarity of thought. A budding legal professional should keep his or her prejudices and stereotypes aside as law is the battlefield of logic.
SIT TIGHT AND HOLD YOUR HORSES
There are times when seasoned legal professionals and other colleagues might be cold in their attitude towards you or do things to antagonize your patience. However, the one who maintains a cool head and does not get trapped in this vicious emotional turmoil will spearhead this profession. Patience is a virtue and a watched pot never boils. Your patience will either make or break your career. If Rome was not built in a day, then do not harbour expectations of kissing success overnight. It is imperative to keep in mind that all things come to those who wait.
Always maintain decency and a respectable personality before the esteemed judges and other legal professionals. To allow the heat of emotions to get the best of your behaviour will prove to be fatal for a young lawyer in many disastrous ways. The legal profession is not a place to channelize one’s emotions and ego. It is a place where respect is given and then taken. If however, this barter system of respect is not maintained by the other person, then a young legal professional will have to hold his or her tongue.
One should not take personal remarks and rebuttals being passed about oneself to the heart, as doing so will serve their purpose. It will derail the rational alignment of your mind throwing your mental health off the balance. As a budding lawyer always try to scan the horizon and then adjust your behaviour and mentality accordingly.
A SILVER LINING IN THE GREY CLOUD
The legal profession is an unchartered water body. To keep the head above water, a budding lawyer should immune his or her mental health to below the belt blows. At the same time, he or she should restrain himself or herself from being a tongue in cheek mockery.
Last but not the least, the legal profession is changing by leaps and bounds. Legal services are being outsourced or undertaken by consultants and legal executives, and technology is improving the speed of key tasks such as document review. As lawyers modernize their practices by, for instance, adopting an interdisciplinary practice and learning new skills, inherent in new work paradigms is the opportunity to tackle key causes of stress. The status quo is not inevitable.
 Walters, M., 2019. Lawyers Are Second Most Stressed Professionals, Research Claims. [online] The Law Society Gazette. Available at: <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/lawyers-are-second-most-stressed-professionals-research-claims/5069915.article#:~:text=Lawyers%20are%20the%20second%20most,stress%20on%20a%20daily%20basis.> [Accessed 1 October 2020].