Did you know that a 2020 study found that an estimated 50% of practising attorneys experience symptoms of anxiety and depression? The legal industry can be incredibly demanding, and often takes a toll on the mental health of those involved in it.
However, there are steps you can take to improve the mental health of the lawyers in your firm. Below, we have put together some of the most effective ones to help you help your employees.
7 Tips To Improve Lawyer Mental Health
Although a lot of progress has been made in destigmatizing mental health in recent years, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health in the legal industry. This is due, in part, to a lack of education about the topic.
When people understand the nature and importance of mental health, it becomes a lot easier to identify and deal with mental health issues.
If you have enough capable staff to host mental health training sessions and workshops, ensure they do so at least three or four times a year. If not, make sure that you invest in an external training team.
2. Manage Client Expectations
When you are working in the legal industry, it often feels as if you are constantly at the beck and call of your clients. You are often dealing with urgent and pressing matters that require immediate attention.
However, with good time management, you do not always need to be burning the midnight oil for every legal matter.
Manage your client’s expectations when it comes to working hours. While you don’t want to abandon them in times of need, they should try and respect reasonable working hours as far as possible.
3. Provide Your Firm with the Latest Legal Technology
The legal profession is renowned for its high-pressure environment and long hours, which can take a toll on a lawyer’s mental health. One option firms have to hire more support staff, but this option adds quite a bit of overhead that not all firms can or want to take on.
This is where legal software can be a game changer.
By automating repetitive tasks such as invoicing, time tracking, client or case budgeting and document filling, legal software can alleviate the workload of lawyers and give them more time to focus on higher-value and rewarding work. This can also help them leave the office at a reasonable hour, promoting a healthier work-life balance.
Additionally, legal automation can transform how lawyers manage their workload by reducing the hours your team must work to reach the same case outcome and making them more efficient and productive.
This can reduce stress and improve job satisfaction, which can have a positive impact on their mental health.
4. Actions Must Accompany Your Words
When it comes to mental health, it is not enough to take a ‘do as I say not as I do approach.’ You need to lead by example. Look after your own mental health. Those working below you need to see you have a healthy work-life balance to encourage them to do the same.
If they see you working late every day, they will likely feel obliged to do the same. If they don’t see you speaking openly about mental health, they might feel scared to do so themselves.
5. Have A No Tolerance Policy When It Comes To Toxic Work Behavior
Toxic work behaviour like yelling, bullying, throwing temper tantrums, and gossiping can be incredibly detrimental to your employee’s mental health. You need to clamp down on such toxic behaviour.
Make sure that you have an effective system that employees can use to report instances of toxic work behaviour. You should take any alleged toxic work behaviour seriously. Investigate reports as soon as possible and ensure that any guilty parties face the consequences.
6. Develop Your Employee’s Necessary Non-Legal Skills Early On In Their Career
Law is about so much more than what you learn in law school. Lawyers must know how to deal with and bring in clients, negotiate with other lawyers, and navigate complicated court procedures.
There can be a big learning curve when starting out as a lawyer. You must invest in guiding your new lawyers through the process. Invest in skills training early on in their career to decrease their stress levels and help them adjust to the demands of the legal industry.
7. Check In On Your Staff
It can be daunting for employees to approach their superiors with mental health concerns. Therefore, you should make sure that you are checking in on your staff. See how they are doing.
Ask them if they are having any difficulties. If there was an incident at work or some worrying behaviour, follow up on it.
8. Provide Access To External Help
Encouraging open discourse around mental health in the workplace is always a good idea. However, employees might be hesitant to share the nitty-gritty of their mental health journey with their coworkers and superiors. Moreover, you are trained to deal with legal matters, not psychological ones.
Therefore, you should make it easier for your employees to contact mental health professionals should they need help. Give them a list of external counsellors and coaches they can contact to help them where you cannot.
Improving the mental health of your employees is an ongoing process. You constantly need to be thinking of new ways you can combat mental health issues at work and work towards creating the best possible workplace for your staff.
Legal automation is one way to achieve this goal. By automating repetitive tasks, law firms can help employees manage their workload, reduce stress levels, and promote a more positive work environment.
In addition to legal automation, there are many other ways to improve lawyers’ mental health, such as promoting work-life balance, encouraging exercise and healthy eating, offering mental health resources, and providing a supportive work environment.
As a law firm leader, it is up to you to take action and implement these strategies. By prioritizing the mental health of your employees and creating a supportive and positive work environment, you can not only help your staff thrive but also achieve long-term success for your firm.
Together, we can make the legal profession a healthier and happier place to work. If you’re interested in learning more about how legal automation can help your law firm and improve the mental health of your employees, book a demo with us today.