WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, July 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is the first segment of a two-part series.
According to attorney Sally Kane, business journalist, attorneys experience an amount enormous job stress, more so than professionals in other fields. Due to prolonged stress, most attorneys will eventually be forced to cope with career burnout to one extent or another.
Deadlines, billing pressures, client demands, long hours, changing laws, and other demands all combine to make the practice of law one of the most stressful jobs out there. Throw in rising business pressures, evolving legal technologies, and climbing law school debt and it's no wonder lawyers are stressed.
The stress and demands of practicing law have fueled high levels of career dissatisfaction among members of the bar. Depression and suicide are common among lawyers and 44 percent of those recently surveyed by the American Bar Association said they would not recommend the profession to a young person.
In order for lawyers to understand how to confront and conquer burnout, it is essential to understand how even the sturdiest attorney can become derailed.
The Backstory of One Attorney
They were always different than the rest of the pack. They possessed a certain undefinable quality, one that conveyed confidence without arrogance, ambition without selfishness, and an overwhelming sense of purpose.
They chewed through college courses during their senior year in high school, headed up one or more student committees, and still had the energy and time to compete in rugby or hold the top slot on the swim team.
They were well-liked, charming and charismatic. Anyone who spent more than five minutes with them knew they were going to be the one to set the pace. It would be up to the others to keep up.
They never had to adapt to the college environment; they entered into it seamlessly. Again, they excelled, not just academically but in sports, social acceptance and various leadership roles. This Alpha was the first one to be picked for special projects and internships and, in a group dynamic, all heads turned their way when it was time to choose a team leader.
While their contemporaries weighed their options and weren't quite sure what their next step would be after university, their mind was already made up. They were sure of their profession since before they could drive.
They were going to be an attorney, no two ways about it. Their resolve was absolute and unwavering. Law school was a given; they and they alone would select the ideal university. While their contemporaries dreaded the prospect of making important life choices, they found it thrilling.
This individual did not hail from a wealthy family, nor did they have a last name that was woven into the fabric of American business titans, but they were by no means impoverished. Like most, they fell somewhere in the middle, but the middle was definitely not where they were meant to be.
In law school they turned up the intensity; classes were more demanding but they still maintained a well-rounded existence. Their academic accomplishments were the most important part of their life, but athletics and their ambition to travel are what made them truly interesting, and genuinely happy.
During their final year of law school, they completed several internships with prominent law firms and state-capital political offices. Their name was already becoming recognizable and they hadn't even passed the Bar.
Due to their exemplary work ethic and established history of success, they had several job offers to choose from upon graduating law school. As always, they weighed the options, considered their long-term goals and made a highly calculated decision devoid of emotion or impulsiveness.
Their first year at the firm was exactly what they expected: long hours, mediocre pay and the realization that there was a lot more to learn, but they loved every minute of it. Their enthusiastic demeanor, extraordinary attention to detail and ability to maintain top physical condition generated respect and attention from their superiors.
They truly fit in and did not have to don a game face in the office because this is where they were meant to be. Anything else just wouldn't feel quite right.
After passing the bar, the firm proudly announced the hire of their laser-focused new associate and, before long, they were no longer at the bottom of the food chain. In what seemed to be a matter of weeks, they were assigned the task of onboarding new recruits fresh out of law school. It was during this process that they realized how far they had come and how much they had learned.
Somewhere in the mix of new recruits they spotted someone who stood head-and-shoulders above the rest. Comparing them to the rest of the group wasn't even fair. The new Golden Child was keen, lean and hungry, and spoke three languages fluently. The rookie was charmingly intense and, by way of natural order, was the de facto group leader.
It was obvious that one day this talented rookie would be gunning for someone's corner office.
For a brief moment, our protagonist, the fast-track associate, felt unbalanced for the very first time. How ironic it would be if one day the bright-eyed recruit learned everything they knew and then effortlessly stepped right over them to become the firm's new pride asset.
This fleeting moment of introspection passed as quickly as it manifested. There's no time for negative thinking when there's work to be done.
As with most high-performance professionals, they became more heavily relied upon by their contemporaries, subordinates and superiors. It seemed as if everyone needed their assistance just to make it through the day, every day. As was their nature, they rose to the occasion and converted the newfound pressure into rocket fuel. The harder they were pressed, the better they produced.
As the old adage goes, "Pressure makes two things, diamonds and rubble," and becoming rubble was not in their game plan.
Their position as Associate quickly evolved into Senior Associate and the brass now required them to travel, frequently. Working from a laptop on a red eye from New York to LA became as familiar to them as breathing; it was in their DNA. Sure, they hadn't been rock climbing in a while, and their five-mile-a-day run was now a three-mile run, when they could squeeze it in, but these were small sacrifices hardly worth thinking about.
Their Success Express was rolling fast now, really fast, and they now knew what the life of an attorney was really all about. The workload perpetually increased regardless of how fast or how hard they worked, packing and unpacking became an art form unto itself, and most of the people they knew at the beginning of their career had either fallen behind or simply vanished, as if they had never existed. A fortunate few of their law school cronies had found their own fast track, but these fellow Alphas also went their own way.
No matter, old friends outgrow one another, that's life.
What one person interprets as a challenge, another views as an obstacle; it's all a matter of perspective, but there was no time to dwell or luxuriate in sentimentality. There were three client meetings scheduled back-to-back before lunch, a series of conference calls and then a dinner meeting that would probably run until at least 10:00 p.m., leaving them just enough time to grab their bags and make it to the airport to catch the red-eye back home. With a little luck they could still get a few hours of sleep and log some time on the elliptical before work.
No such luck. They'd circle back to it.
Barraged by a backlog of emails to answer, every minute counted the following day. About 30 emails deep they read the subject line, "Priority - Dinner With The Crew." Apparently three out of five original members of their Rat Pack were in town at the same time and reservations were set in stone at Cipriani. It was already 4:15 p.m. and the table was confirmed for 7:00; there was simply no way to make this work. They'd catch up with the old crew as soon as things slowed down a little.
Five years later the firm announced their promotion to Partner. This was it, mission accomplished, but the achievement lacked the same thrill as when they had been unveiled to the world as an Associate. They were by no means devastated or derailed, but merely a little perplexed.
Long overdue for an epiphany, they realized that everything that had gotten them to where they were was no longer part of their life. If they were going to stay on top, it was time to take a personal inventory and regain some balance. Without it, their upward mobility would plateau.
Their need to initiate change would not become a fleeting notion. There was no need to write it on a Post-It note because there was a physical reminder already in their eyeline. The bright-eyed rookie they had onboarded years before was now a senior associate, still a subordinate by title but not in terms of professional excellence or compensation.
Bright Eyes had accumulated many achievements at the firm and was picking up momentum. Somehow, some way, they had done so without stepping onto the corporate treadmill and abandoning their personal endeavors. Bright Eyes was as diverse and energetic as they were their first day on the job.
Bright Eyes also quickly gained the reputation as the superstar rainmaker; even if they never labored over another file again, their future was secure. They possessed the rare and highly coveted ability to bring new clients to the firm. The Founding Partners would provide them with every resource at their disposal to ensure they never jumped ship.
Attorney Laura Anthony
Laura Anthony, Esq. is the founding partner of Anthony, L.G., PLLC, a national corporate, securities and business transactions law firm. For more than two decades Ms. Anthony has focused her law practice on small and mid-cap private and public companies, capital markets, NASDAQ, NYSE American, the OTC markets, going public transactions, mergers and acquisitions, registered public and exempt private offerings and corporate finance transactions, Regulation A/A+, securities token offerings, Exchange Act and other regulatory reporting requirements, FINRA requirements, state and federal securities laws, general corporate law and complex business transactions. The Anthony, L.G. PLLC team has represented issuers, buyers, sellers, underwriters, placement agents, investors, and shareholders in mergers, acquisitions and corporate finance transactions valued in excess of $1 billion. ALG has represented in excess of 200 companies in reverse merger, initial public offering and direct public offering transactions. Palm Beach Attorney Laura Anthony is also the creator and author of SecuritiesLawBlog.com, the host of LawCast™, Corporate Finance in Focus and a contributor to The Huffington Post and Law360.
SOURCE Anthony, L.G., PLLC