No matter what area of law practiced, attorneys face stressful and unique challenges in their careers. Whether you are a sole practitioner or a member of a large firm, the business side of legal practice can be as demanding as the actual practice of law. Technology is reducing the number of time attorneys spend focused on the tedious and exhausting parts of practice, freeing more of their time to do the work they imagined when deciding on a career in law.
Platforms, such as contract and document management software, are paving the way for attorneys to spend more of their time practicing law.
What is contract management software? Contract management software is designed to manage contracts from their creation through finalized completion. Contracts form the basis for all legal and business relationships, and managing contracts once took up untold hours for most lawyers.
Now, with artificial intelligence based on machine learning, contract management software almost eliminates the time once spent crafting, executing and monitoring contracts for compliance. Most software is now capable of alerting all parties to issues of non-compliance and approaching dates in the contract.
Managing a business and a law practice simultaneously
Budgeting, billing, human resources, networking, and marketing take up as much time in an attorney’s life as practicing law. Most lawyers wear many hats, and only a lucky few spend their days solely practicing the area of law that they love.
Outsourcing can be a valuable tool for firms and sole practitioners. Outsourcing allows attorneys to turn over large portions of the day to day running of a business, giving them time to focus more on the legal side of their practice. Outsourcing can also solve personnel problems. The new gig economy means that more and more legal assistants, secretaries and paraprofessionals are working either virtually or on a short-term “gig” basis.
Whether you are a sole practitioner or a large firm who only needs help for a short time, outsourcing the work can provide an economical way to have a talented professional help when needed without the costs associated with employing someone full-time.
Balancing career and personal lives
Attorneys have spent many years getting the education, training, and experience to practice law. They tend to have a Type A driven personality, so it can be challenging to manage life outside the office. Clients, meetings, and crises do not respect an eight-hour workday.
The drive to succeed can be good for your career, but damaging to your personal life. Learning how to balance those two things is the key to true success.
Many things about your time, as a practicing lawyer, are beyond your control. That means you must diligently protect the things you can control. Whether it is weekends, or one or two evenings a week that you refuse to take meetings or work late, it is essential to guard your personal life against the stress of your job.
Burnout is a real thing, and a leading cause of skilled and talented attorneys leaving the field for lower pressure jobs. Make time for rest, healthy eating, exercise, and your friends and family. Statistics show that in the long-run, you are more likely to be successful if you prioritize your personal needs.
Attorneys practicing in areas of law that bring them into day to day contact with hurting people are more likely to experience the effects of second-hand trauma. If you practice family law, criminal law, or child protection cases, then you will see unimaginable pain.
Broken families, broken marriages, abuse, and the pain of the victims of crime can all take a toll on your emotional well-being. It can also be difficult to not look for darkness everywhere because you see so much of it in your career.
Finding a support system of people who understand what it is like to see and hear the same things you do can be crucial to maintaining your own mental health. Finding a supportive tribe can be made more complicated by the attorney-client privilege that prevents you from being able to talk about much of what you see and hear. It is possible to seek support by speaking in general terms about how you are coping without breaking confidentiality. If you exhibit signs of PTSD, which is not uncommon in attorneys, seek professional help.