In the role of a legal professional you are pretty much required to wear whatever hat is necessary to solve the legal issue that a client has come to you to solve. Those hats can range from simply being a counselor in order to explain the legal remedy that is being applied to address the client’s issue, or putting on the hat of a biologist to understand the chemical combinations that may have contributed to a respiratory ailment that a client is suffering from. This can cause a great deal of stress because individuals tend to believe that once they go to an attorney for assistance the attorney has all encompassing power to solve their legal issues without understanding that they also play a role in the successful resolution of a legal issue. Whether you are an attorney or another member of the legal team it is important to keep these things in mind when working with clients in order to avoid job burnout due to this type of occupational stress:
- Let your clients know upfront what your professional boundaries are and that you intend on remaining within them
- Allow your clients to vent about their legal issue but do not become their personal dump to place all their emotional baggage on
- Do turn off your cell phone sometimes. Most legal professionals probably do not even know what a regular forty hour work week looks like, and believe that it is a requirement of the job to be available to their clients at all times. This not only places you in the position of being your clients on call emotional counselor, as they feel the need to call you every time the ex threatens them with taking another one of their precious properties, but also reinforces an unhealthy workaholic attitude.
Although, studies conducted by bar associations and legal malpractice insurance providers indicate that there is a huge issue with attorneys and their staff communicating with clients some attorneys make themselves available at very inconvenient times or have “special clients” who have been provided with unlimited access to them and their staff. This behavior not only creates an unhealthy co-dependent relationship but is a cause for job burnout. So start busting your stress today and create some healthy boundaries.