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Avoiding burnout: Stress management in high-pressure law firms

Jill King discusses the strategies that firms and lawyers can adopt to manage stress levels and maximise peak performance

15 November 2013

There's no doubt that the law is a demanding business. The very nature of legal work involves complex thinking under extreme time pressure, relentless client demands and deadlines, long hours, pressure to achieve billing targets and constant time recording.

These pressures, which create an intense working environment, are exacerbated by lawyers' propensity towards perfectionism, insecurity, over-analysis and competitiveness. Many lawyers live in fear of losing clients and of making errors in legal judgement. They worry about charging clients for excessive hours and they feel guilty about neglecting their families while working such long hours. Add to this the adversarial nature of legal work that breeds hostility, conflict and cynicism, and it is not surprising that so many lawyers find it hard to cope at some point in their careers.

Statistics show that a legal career is one of the most stressful occupations and that lawyers have disproportionally...

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