In the demanding world of law, where time is precious and the pressure is constant, mental health often takes a back seat. However, the prevalence of burnout and depression among lawyers and legal staff is a growing concern.

According to a 2023 study in the journal Healthcare, which surveyed 1,962 lawyers, respondents were twice as likely as non-lawyers to contemplate suicide. Younger attorneys and those who worked longer hours were more likely than their counterparts to contemplate suicide. (The full study is available here.)

The time to address the issue of well-being in the legal profession head-on is now. Fortunately, there are steps individuals and firms can take to promote mental well-being and combat burnout.

1.Open Dialogue: Encourage open conversations in the workplace about mental health. Create a supportive environment where attorneys and staff feel comfortable discussing their struggles without fear of judgment. This can help reduce stigma and encourage early intervention.

2.Work-Life Balance: Strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Encourage attorneys and staff to take regular breaks, use their vacation time, and set boundaries between work and personal life. Studies show that employees with better work-life balance are less likely to experience burnout.

3.Stress Management Techniques: Provide resources and training on stress management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation or deep breathing exercises. These practices can help attorneys and staff cope with stress more effectively and prevent burnout.

4.Flexibility: Offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote options or flexible hours, to accommodate the diverse needs of your team. Flexibility can help reduce stress and improve morale.

5.Regular Check-ins: Conduct regular check-ins with attorneys and staff to assess their workload, job satisfaction and overall well-being. Address any concerns or issues proactively to prevent burnout before it occurs.

6.Professional Development: Invest in professional development opportunities for your team, including training, mentoring and career advancement programs. Providing opportunities for growth and advancement can increase job satisfaction and motivation.

7.Support Services: Offer access to mental health support services, such as employee assistance programs or counseling services. Make sure attorneys and staff are aware of these resources and encourage them to seek help when needed.

What are some good resources for law firms looking to promote workplace well-being?

Well-being in the legal industry has been a central focus among professionals, including those involved in legal marketing. In fact, the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) has an entire resource center devoted to promoting well-being among workers in the legal industry, including attorneys and staff. Jaffe encourages you to check out this very helpful resource.

You can also check out resources from Renee Branson of RB Consulting. A Certified Resilience Coach with a master’s degree in counseling psychology, Renee works with lawyers, legal marketers and other business professionals to help them understand and incorporate resilience in their professional lives and in the teams they lead. Her work empowers leaders to address organizational strengths and weaknesses and to implement growth plans through coaching, consultation and app-based tools. 

Have questions about how you can enhance well-being within your workplace? Contact Terry M. Isner at tmisner@jaffepr.com.