13 Oct Survey: Legal Industry Experiencing Mental Health Challenges Amid COVID-19
Not every lawyer at your law firm will thrive while remotely working, due to COVID-19. You may be the attorney, who works better while in the office or works at a higher level when colleagues are more accessible.
This can add layers of stress or anxiety to your routine that many attorneys around the country are dealing with, on both the attorney-side and the client-side.
Mental health amid COVID-19
LegalTechNews published a story regarding how attorneys and legal staff are handling the mental health challenges involved in remote working during the pandemic.
The story highlighted how the economic consequences of COVID-19, combined with social isolation and the challenges of remote working increase a level of stress across the legal industry, leaving lawyers and legal staff vulnerable to a variety of mental health issues.
These issues particularly are having a strong affect against younger demographics, as 62.9 percent of young adults between ages 18 to 24 stated that they are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, the highest among all age groups, according to a study in August by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Young attorneys at risk
Among young lawyers, this is a glaring issue. The American Lawyer’s 2020 Midlevel Associates Survey found that more than 40 percent of midlevel associates stated that they have anxiety, with three out of four lawyers stating that their firms had a negative impact on their mental health.
Additionally, 48 percent of the survey respondents stated that they are concerned about their mental health, which is an increase from 39 percent last year.
Contributing factors of added stress
Presently, there are many contributing factors to the added stress for lawyers and legal staff. Like many businesses across industries, there have had to be layoffs.
With that level of job uncertainty comes anxiety. By focusing on what can go wrong while working, you may find yourself adding stress to your routine and may be more likely to make a mistake.
Social isolation also has its own pitfalls. By remotely working, you are no longer interacting face to face with the clients and staff that you once did. You may no longer be able to meet a client in-person. The added mental gymnastics of figuring out how to deal with the practical logistics of completing tasks can be stressful.
Practical solutions at your firm
Finding practical and helpful solutions of dealing with daily stresses and preventing them from spiraling into anxiety or depression is necessary.
At your law firm, it may be helpful to increase communication and transparency. With more knowledge about how the firm is doing being more readily available, there may be less stress and anxiety based around job security and the financial wellness of the business.
Additionally, you may need to step up and be the leader that your law firm needs by communicating with your attorneys and legal staff about expectations during this challenging time.
You need to let them know what is to be expected, how they presently are doing, and where they need to improve. Clear communication is key, in preventing hypotheticals from adding stress to an attorney.
Make sure to follow up on these meetings with attorneys and legal staff. Creating a dialogue prevents the isolation from taking hold, while reinforcing professional expectations.
However, these meetings simply are not just about professional expectations, clients, and cases. They also need to involve wellness checks. Knowing how your attorneys and legal staff are doing is vital to preventing them from being isolated and feeling alone in their profession.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created turbulence in every facet of life. By taking steps to make it a little easier through clear, frequent, and transparent communication, your law firm can become a healthier environment, even while employing remote working practices.