Stress in the workplace is a major headache for employers and employees in this day and age. It is not necessarily that things didn’t get stressful in the past but it just seems that the demands of an increasingly fast-paced life, coupled with economic (and domestic) pressures, combine to create more of a crucible than ever before.
As to which profession is most stressful – what do you think? Politician? Journalist? Premier League footballer with a superinjunction? Surely the legal profession has to be relatively high up the list, but then I would say that as I’m a little biased.
The legal profession certainly has a track record of struggling with stress. If it is not the solicitor themselves juggling changing laws, a large case load and pressures to bring in new clients, it is the clients we deal with, particularly in family law, coping with stressful and highly emotional situations.
There is perhaps a limited amount we can do about some of the pressures and stresses involved in family law issues, but we can help in some ways. We can act as a calming influence for emotionally charged situations – I’ve mentioned in the past how family lawyers are often expected to be more than just legal advisors, even being asked to play the role of counsellor and confidant as well. We can be as transparent as possible with pricing and processes to ensure no hidden shocks for clients.
Law firms can also do things to help lawyers themselves. Woolley & Co utilises a model not common in the sector with home-based senior level lawyers with a working day tailored to them and their clients. This innovation alone I think brings several obvious benefits that hopefully lessen the stress levels:
- No horn-honking journey to work on traffic and roadwork-choked streets
- A lack of office politics and bitching
- No unnecessary one-upmanship or competition with the person sitting closest to you putting both of you under additional pressure
Our approach is not rocket science, just the benefits of looking at a traditional industry in a slightly different way. You might not be able to implement it in every professional industry, but if you can do it in the legal sector, you must be able to adapt it in other arenas. And for those in the legal sector with a more traditional structure, why not try something new to help keep the stress levels down – and I don’t mean take up golf.