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Any lawyers out there who are not stressed? If so, how do you do it?

(8 Posts)
sittinginthesun Tue 27-Sep-11 17:19:09

Don't know where to post this, but could really do with some advice!

I am a junior partner in a small firm, work part time, (20 hours per week). It was a struggle to get these hours (that is an understatement, as you can imagine!) but I was adament it was either that, or I left. Two young children, youngest just started school.

My work/life balance should be good, as I have given that priority, at the expense of any decent salary etc.

Yet, I have just been given yet another lecture by a health person about my stress levels - this time, an osteopath who I know and trust, who says that my back is a mess, and a lot of that is to do with stress and tension.

Almost cried on his shoulder - work is just always so stressful. I am either overwhelmed with work, or worrying about a specific case, or dealing with staff/partner issues etc. Obviously, money is rubbish right now, as we are a high street firm, mainly dealing with conveyancing, but we are keeping afloat.

Home life is great, and I think I want to work, but just wondered whether it is:

1. me! Just not handling it, getting over stressed for no reason;
2. my firm, being generally such a toxic environment, which it is;
3. all lawyers in high street firms...

If it is 1 or 2, how on Earth can I rectify it!?!


SierraMadre Tue 27-Sep-11 17:24:11

I think its three, except I would extend that to all lawyers in all firms. I'm not a partner, but its still pretty bloody stressful. Sleepless nights, can't relax, always on duty. I suppose the compensation is the salary hmm

roadrunnerbeepbeep Wed 28-Sep-11 11:02:01

Agree with SierraMadre. I actually think junior partner is particularly stressful (having done it) because you get all the responsibility but little real control.

sittinginthesun Wed 28-Sep-11 12:29:13

Thanks, that actually makes me feel a bit better.

Trying so hard not to let it get me today, but I have lost count of the times I have thought about ways to minimise stress at work. I really don't want to quit, but I want to find a way to control it.

I do have very little say, at firm level, but I am scared about setting up on my own, because I just don't know whether it would actually be more stressful.

I have just sat in a partners' meeting, listening to the others complaining that one of our staff is too laid back and doesn't show enough stress! World has gone mad!

emsyj Wed 28-Sep-11 14:43:11

I used to work at a Magic and found that really stressful because I absolutely hated the work. I struggled to motivate myself to actually get anything done, then would panic at how much I had to do and how little time there was to do it, then would get stressed about how crap the work would be because I was just stupid and common and shouldn't really be there with all the Oxbridge clever clogs etc... Was awful.

But now I work in a small commercial firm doing a different area of law and it's not stressful at all. I work 4 days a week, I don't get called in the evening or at weekends, I don't have a blackberry etc - but it is quite a junior job and the pay is very poor.

I think the issue is possibly your level of responsibility? Do you think? In which case it's hard to do much about really, as you're so senior now that it would be hard to take a step back.

At the moment, I am responsible for doing my work to a high standard and in a timely manner. And I suppose I am responsible for recording my time accurately. But aside from that, the workings of the firm and profitability etc are just not of any interest to me. I want to do a good job for my clients and I care about them, but I don't care if the firm implodes tomorrow - even if it does leave me jobless.

Perhaps that is the key. If you don't really care very much, there's nothing to be stressed about. I know I can do my work here very competently and so the financial side I'm just not bothered about. Whereas at Magic Circle firm, I really felt the weight of responsibility when I did something that I knew the partner was likely to only skim read (if at all) - there was a lot more at stake.

Bit of a ramble, sorry! In the knowledge that I am not cut out for partnership in a law firm, I am doing various preparatory things now so that I can leave law for ever if I have DC2.

SierraMadre Wed 28-Sep-11 14:58:38

I agree with emsyj, there is an assumption that we all must want to climb the greasy pole, but no-one actually asks, so we're all stuck in this cycle. What's wrong with just being good at what we do? We can't all be equity partners!

sittinginthesun Wed 28-Sep-11 15:06:28

Exactly! It's rubbish. The only slight consolation is that, when the credit crunch hit our town, all the non equity partner solicitors were made redundant.

I think I am going to have to "life coach" myself a bit. I am wondering whether I am doing the classic thing if not saying "no" enough. Manage clients' expectations and all that usual stuff. Be a bit more aloofsmile the senior partner manages it beautifully.

Thanks, all.

SierraMadre Wed 28-Sep-11 15:23:02

I think that would help - and try it with your partners as well !

Good luck :-)

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