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Professional stress in legal professions

Legal professions are stressful. Knowing and working with the law might be a
stressor. In this paper I will summarize the issues and stress factors that mostly concern
lawyers, judges and other law workers.
When we go to a lawyer we hope for solving our legal problems whether in
court or mediation. The pressure to find solutions and/or a settlement that pleases the
paying client is hard to deal with but there are some coping strategies to surpass the
stress and burnout.
In lawyers the pressure may be the highest among legal professions. Being a
lawyer means bringing work home after half a day at office and dealing with the clients
who expect their lawyer to manage their problems.
Stress may lead to physical damages like fatigue, high blood pressure, sleep
problems and stomach problems. It may even lead to anxiety, angry outbursts, memory
loss and burnout which may be the ultimate psychological consequence of stress.
In general, there are things that influence ones stress tolerance levels like a
support network supportive family and friends are important to keep ones mind sane
by talking to those people where theres worrying in ones mind; Sense of control self
confidence and ability to influence events and persevere through challenges makes it
easier to deal with stressful events; Attitude and perspective its harder to stress an
optimistic person even in a tough situation as they embrace challenge and accept change
as a part of life; Ability to deal with emotions balancing emotions helps calming down
and make decisions correctly.
Stress may come in very levels and it depends on personality factors like ability
to cope with difficult decisions, intellectual and physical abilities, work experience and
competencies, ones work features such as nature of work tasks, work relationships and
work recognition. If someone feels unrecognized by its superiors or peers it may lead
to low self esteem and the feel that ones not doing hes job correctly.

Since everyone is different and has different responses to stress one needs to
acknowledge when it is too much stress to take in.
Burnout, one of the possible consequences of overworking, shows symptoms as
cynicism (e.g. dont believing or seeing no meaning or reason in what one does);
exhaustion (physical and psychological) and low self efficacy that may lead to low work
performances.
Job burnout, in other hand, may present some other stressor like lack of control
and inability to influence the decisions that affect ones job; unclear job expectations
whether ones only a trainee and wants to make it to the team or if ones a lawyer in the
firm but wants to be a partner / associate. The competition in this area is high and keeps
going up. There are more lawyers now than twenty years ago and more competition
than ever.
The mismatch in values, whether one is defending something he believes as
opposed to a big check defending a major company which might be for instance
harming the environment, may be stressful because one needs the paycheck and the
billable hours but theres a value shock which might lead to mental exhaustion.
The major consequence of a burnout may be hospitalization which takes medical
care and sick days at work.
To cope with stress one need to regain control focus only in what one really
control and influence in opposition on what its not in ones sphere of influence and
accept it how it is; create short-term goals and celebrate ones accomplishments even
the small ones; manage workload and create schedules to try to balance professional and
personal life.
Friends and familys help is needed too whether is to talk about openly about
ones problems or provide support in ones life since the body positively responds to
support groups.
Lawyers, indicated as the most stressful ones along whit physicians and
professors, must know to recognize these symptoms and learn when to stop, take a deep
breath and search for help because they may need some.
The solution may pass for searching for off-work activities such as social events
with family or friend; exercise since its proven to reduce stress by enhancing self
esteem and release the happy hormone endorphin; take vacations or a few days of
work and delegating work to colleagues if possible.

In conclusion we may say that even though in extreme stress and pressure to
perform there are ways to cope with stress through psychological techniques that makes
one learn about himself and the surrounding environment, learning what is causing
stress and which are ones stressors. Learning and developing personal techniques to
cope with problems is always useful for once one masters the art of dealing with stress
one will use it ones life whether when stressful trying to manage professional and
personal life or making decisions that might affect ones life.

I hereby certify that I have made this work independently and without outsider help
and did not use other bibliographical resources than the ones referred in the paper.

Bibliography:
Demerouti, E., Bakker, A., De Jonge, J., Janssen, P., & Schaufeli, W. (2001). Burnout
and engagement at work as a function of demands and control. Scandinavian Journal of
Work and Environment and Health, 27, 279-286
Daicoff, S. S. (2004). Lawyer, know thyself: A psychological analysis of personality
strengths and weaknesses. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association
Stress, Trauma, and Wellbeing in the Legal System (American Psychology-Law
Society), Monica K. Miller, Brian H. Bornstein, 2012

Alexandra Gaspar n20589, Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de Lisboa