A Lawyer's Mental Breakdown: Why Mental Health is Weak in the Legal Profession
I’ve never really shared my opinion on this before, so hear me out. As lawyers we often try very hard to not take things personally or get “too attached” during a case.
Why? Well, it’s pretty obvious that we don’t want to absorb all of the stress and emotions of each case because we would just end up being a complete wreck all day long, (especially working in Family Law.)
But we still want and need to be passionate about what we do and the struggle between staying distant and being passionate is hard. So what if us lawyers gave ourselves permission to be humans for a second. What if we were allowed to have feelings and get more involved in a case? Now I want to specifically talk to the women working in law for a second. Men have never been allowed to show emotions (don’t get me started on that.) So, As women, we work harder at not showing our emotions because men will think we are overly emotional or “attached” to a case and thus unable to make professional decisions and act accordingly. BUT it's normal to feel emotions. It’s what makes us human.
Long story short, what I am getting at is the legal profession, although from the outside may not look it, is in fact an emotional one. The mental health of lawyers and what they face, absorb and carry on a day-to-day basis, especially in Family Law, can be heavy.
I have been teaching my team to set boundaries and to take breaks. We don’t give our clients our cell phone numbers. We don't check our emails after hours because we need time to process, decompress and relax after holding space and committing ourselves to others all day long.
Did you know the burnout rate for lawyers is super high? We work too much, drink too much, joke about how we never sleep or have time for a social life. Heaven forbid we are parents on top of that and feel the guilt for not giving our children the time and attention they crave. Life doesn’t have to be that way. I am advocating for a change in our industry, especially for the women working in law. More mental health days. More vacation and rest. If we had more boundaries and limits on what we could do in a day, it would be better.
If lawyers want or need secondary support to help with the trauma of a case, and processing what they experienced, it should be available. If you want to start a conversation about this, head over to my Instagram and send over your thoughts.
Lauren M. Angle Founder, Angle Law Firm Niagara Falls, ON