The range of backgrounds and personalities among attorneys is far and wide. Some attorneys are drawn to large firms, while others prefer to practice solo. There are lawyers who thrive in court and others who enjoy the quiet work behind the desk.
But whether you are an attorney devoted to criminal defense, estate planning, or a bit of everything, you may find yourself with a tendency that attorneys of all types can share — the desire to “go it alone” when it comes to running your practice.
Many attorneys feel inadequate with the daily tasks required to run a firm, thinking it’s necessary to take them on alone. For some attorneys, this is an ingrained trait they have had since birth. Others develop this trait in law school, where you are graded on the quality of your individual efforts.
While it is understandable why so many lawyers go into practice still carrying this mindset, it is also regrettable. Trying to “go it alone” can have negative consequences for both your practice and your personal health.
The Dangers of Lawyer Burnout
A recent Bloomberg Law survey found that over half of attorneys polled reported experiencing burnout in their job. While every lawyer deals with burnout differently, it manifests itself in some predictable ways for many, including:
- Fatigue or a feeling of tiredness at work
- Loss of enthusiasm for the job
- Decreased productivity at work
- Loss of interest in social gatherings, family activities, or hobbies
- Anxiety or depression over thoughts of going to work
Burnout directly affects your quality of life. But burnout can also affect your practice and your clients. When you are burnt out and not giving your best to your clients’ cases, your work may suffer. You might miss important filing deadlines and thereby affect the outcomes of your clients’ cases. You could even miss court appearances.
Any one of these occurrences can lead to reprimand by the court, negative client feedback, and in some cases, the filing of ethical complaints.
Causes of Burnout
Feeling overworked is often linked with burnout. Being overworked occurs when you take on too many responsibilities or commitments. This can easily happen if you are a solo practitioner, as you may feel as though you do not have anyone you can turn to for assistance.
You may also avoid reaching out because you’re unwilling to take on the burden of training new staff or you feel that no person will be able to do the job in the manner you want it done.
Being overworked is not limited to the solo practitioner. Even attorneys in small- and medium-sized firms can find themselves overworked and in danger of burnout. The firm’s staff may already be stretched thin, and you might worry that seeking help with burnout will hurt your professional reputation and career path within your firm.
There’s No Shame in Not “Going It Alone”
Lawyers are unique individuals, which means that every lawyer has a different level of stress that they can tolerate. But any lawyer will reach a limit where they simply cannot perform any more work without the quality of the work suffering. When you reach this limit, the risk of burnout increases.
It is important to keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with not running your firm alone. The benefit of having control and overseeing each detail of your practice is not worth the negative impact being stretched too thin can cause on your health and your practice.
Your clients count on you to return their calls and address their concerns; if you are taking on too much at once, you won’t be able to fulfill these obligations, and your reputation can suffer.
There is nothing inadequate about protecting the interests of your clients by ensuring you are in the best state to effectively advocate for them. And by protecting your clients, you protect your reputation as well. Your clients will appreciate an efficiently run office — whether that office is run by you alone or staff will not make a difference.
Hiring staff to assist with your firm’s daily tasks can ensure your clients enjoy a high-quality, efficient experience they are more likely to recommend to others.
Day-to-Day Tasks Can Be Successfully Delegated
Many of the tasks that can lead you to be overworked are day-to-day obligations that you can successfully delegate to someone else. Preparing and filing routine court documents, returning some clients’ calls, and following up on requests for discovery and production may take much time individually.
But if you have to speak with ten clients in the morning about routine matters, and each call takes five minutes, you have spent nearly an hour of your day away from other tasks.
To successfully delegate these and other routine tasks, it is critical that you carefully screen potential employees and contractors, even virtual assistants. Not all candidates are created equally.
Receiving assistance from a professional who has the education and training to successfully understand your directions is as important as hiring someone with the right temperament and personality.
Woven Legal Connects You with Qualified Assistants
If you are looking for help with the daily tasks of your firm but do not know where to start, consider speaking with the experts at Woven Legal. We connect lawyers with remote legal assistants, paralegals, intake specialists, and other support professionals who are ready to provide the help you need without additional headaches.
We take care of the screening process for you, seeking only potential candidates who have the qualifications or background to successfully perform the job. But our support does not end at screening.
By partnering with Woven Legal, you can also free yourself of the burden of dealing with payroll taxes and other costs and obligations that come with hiring a new employee or contractor.
You don’t have to manage your firm alone. With Woven Legal, you can avoid burnout and focus on advocating for your clients. To learn how we can help with your practice, book a Discovery Call with us today.