Making Your Legal Life Easier

July 6, 2015 § 2 Comments

It’s no secret that the legal profession is one of the most stressful there is. Stress takes its toll in the form of burnout, substance abuse, failing relationships, depression, and even suicide.

The way that you practice law can add to or alleviate your stress. Here are a few things you can do to make your legal life easier:

  • Avoid putting yourself in difficult situations. Answer the discovery early. You can always supplement it later to make it meet your exacting standards. Don’t keep putting things off until you face three or four simultaneous, crushing deadlines. Deal with unpleasant things first, so you can give your attention to and enjoy dealing with the pleasant ones.
  • Forgive yourself. You are your own worst critic. If you err or even fail, pick yourself up and dust yourself off, analyze what you did wrong, fix it as best you can, and move on to the next thing. And quit beating yourself up about it.
  • Schedule sanely. No one can or should try a contested divorce on Monday and Tuesday, with a break for an hour Tuesday to argue a motion in county court, then a contested probated claim Wednesday morning, followed by depositions Wednesday afternoon. Then six appointments Thursday morning, with three Social Security hearings Thursday afternoon. And winding up the week with a temporary hearing and a contempt two counties distant. Give yourself some time to breathe. You are not Superman or Wonderwoman.
  • Let your secretaries be your shock absorbers. Don’t avoid your clients; they need to communicate with you. By all means, return your phone calls, but don’t let them interrupt you every few minutes with a barrage of what-ifs and speculation. Manage your own time; don’t let it manage you.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver. Temper your clients’ expectations with reality. Never promise what you know you can’t accomplish, and then blame it on the judge or that scoundrel attorney on the other side. When you tell your clients that, realistically, they have an uphill climb to modify custody, but you will give it your best shot, they not only will appreciate your candor, but, if you prevail they will marvel at your legal skill; if you don’t, they at least understand why.
  • Be objective. It’s your client’s battle, not yours. Don’t let it get personal. You are there to represent your client, not to be your client’s alter ego. That lawyer on the other side is your opponent in this case, not your personal enemy.
  • Get organized. Put systems in place to help you deal with your business in a rational manner. The more haphazard and disorganized you are, the more you will have to deal with the unexpected and overwhelming.

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