How to Deal with Burnout and Productivity

Laywers are famous for being ambitious and competitive. They push themselves to work longer hours than their coworkers, bill more hours, make partner at a younger age, attract bigger clients, etc. While this ambition and competition is great for the bank account (both your own and your employer’s) it isn’t so good for your mental health. Left unregulated this level of drive will eventually lead to your burning out.

Burnout is a very real and very dangerous professional risk when you enter the legal world. Lawyers are famous for burning out in high profile and spectacular ways. There are lots of generic things that you can do to avoid burnout (get more sleep, eat better, etc). As a lawyer, though, you should also consider the following tips to help you keep an even keel.

While the goal of every laywer is to be perfect, sometimes that will require you to take on some assistance. Nobody is perfect alone. Hire an assistant or paralegal to help you with your research, your filing whatever you feel okay about delegating. Delegation is not a sign of weakness. In fact, being able to delegate will free you up to focus on things that matter or even, if you work best while under pressure, take on more responsibilities. Even the greats like the successful attorney and author Morgan Chu has had help along the way.

As a lawyer you are trained to look at other people’s problems objectively. Use this objectivity to look at your own situation. It is going to take some work but if you practice, you’ll be able to do it. Think of it this way: If one of your clients were in your specific environment with your specific work load would you counsel them to suck it up and keep going? Or would you counsel them to make a change, to turn down some projects, delegate others, switch to a firm that doesn’t pile on so much pressure?


It’s important to put your own values and needs aside when you work to get your clients the outcome they deserve. It is also important to make sure that you work with a firm whose values match your own. This way you won’t be forced to work against your nature so often. Being forced to fight for things feel inherently wrong is the biggest cause of attorney burnout. It’s why criminal attorneys often switch sides from defense to prosecution (and vice versa). Working within a system that matches your values takes away this stress and reduces your risk of burning out.

There are plenty of ways to keep yourself from burning out. Some are basic and can be applied to everybody regardless of profession. As an attorney, however, acknowledging your specific circumstances, as we’ve done here is a big part of the equation. That’s why you should start with these tips if you feel like your edges are starting to get a little ragged.

Vijayraj Reddy
Vijayraj Reddy is founder & editor-in-chief of, a financial blog which helps people to earn money, invest money and save money. You can find him on Facebook & Twitter or send him email at [email protected]

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