How Lawyers Can Maintain Their Personal Well-Being

By John Allison,

The practice of law can be stressful.  Studies have shown that lawyers are significantly more likely than members of the general population to suffer from clinical depression or substance abuse.  Bar association survey results suggest that roughly twenty-five percent of practicing lawyers experience depression or anxiety much of the time.    

In light of these results, it is extremely important for lawyers to make a conscious effort to maintain their personal well-being.  Lawyers who take care of themselves will be more likely to enjoy a satisfying and fulfilling professional career.  They will also be more likely to enjoy life. 


Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices.

To maintain personal well-being, a healthy diet and regular exercise are obvious first steps.  Physical activity clears the mind and helps alleviate stress.  Engaging in a hobby or an avocation that is not related to the practice of law can lead to a balanced life.  Examples include reading, participating in sports, playing a musical instrument, creating artistic works, or learning about something new.


Avoid Toxic Work Environments.

Lawyers who are actively practicing law spend most of their waking hours at work.  A work environment should be pleasant, upbeat and empowering.  Unfortunately, some work environments are toxic.  In a toxic work environment you will feel under stress much of the time.  It will be difficult to express your creativity and enjoy a fulfilling professional career.

If you are interviewing for a new position and the work environment feels unhealthy, trust your intuition.  Keep looking elsewhere.  When you start to dread coming to work in your current job, try to identify and address the source of your distress.  If your distress is caused by workplace conditions that cannot be changed, it is time to start looking for another job.     


Set Time Boundaries And Take Breaks.

Working nearly all the time is not healthy.  Take vacations you enjoy.  When on vacation, do your best to leave work at the office.  Set boundaries around your time on evenings and weekends.  Manage the expectations of clients and colleagues so they understand when you will not be returning phone calls or checking email.  Set aside time on your calendar during the work week to reflect and rejuvenate.  When you feel yourself stressing out, take a break.  Whether it’s a short meditation or a walk around the block, find a “time out” practice that works for you.      


Related articles:

Ethical Pitfalls Every Lawyer Should Watch Out For

How To Represent Your Firm's Clients Well

Building Trust In Professional Relationships

Dealing with a Client’s Feelings and Emotions

3 Keys to Effective Advocacy


John Allison is a professional career coach backed by years of experience as a successful lawyer. He is the founder of The Coach for Lawyers and author of The Art of Practicing Law: A Practical Guide for Lawyers.