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Staying Balanced While Practicing Law


Do you know an attorney who does not enjoy his or her occupation? If so, you are not alone. Studies show practicing law is one of the most stressful occupations in America. The substance abuse rate for attorneys exceeds the rate of the general population. And, depression and mental health issues are problems within the legal profession. But, why?

No one sets out to go to law school with the idea he or she is going to graduate, pass the bar, get a job and then live a life of constant stress, disappointment and anxiety. In fact, studies show that law school students are generally very happy and some of the most diligent students in the country.

Here are some of the issues many attorneys deal with on a daily basis:

  1. Putting out fires.
  2. Calming down clients.
  3. Working daily in a reactive state rather than a proactive state.
  4. Managing a business.

Are you constantly stressed out or are you dissatisfied with practicing law? Here’s a piece of advice. Think about yourself … first.

Attorneys are not Superheroes. They cannot be on the go around the clock. Attorneys need balance, a break and a life just like everyone else in every other profession. Otherwise, attorneys can live in a constant state of stress and anxiety and this will no doubt remove the joy from practicing law. And, while on the topic of job created stress, stress creates it’s own list of problems and health issues such as moodiness, poor judgment, eating disorders, lack of sleep, substance abuse, and cardiovascular disease just to name a few.

In order to take charge of the job, you must first take charge of yourself. It’s unfortunate to think about, but how many attorneys do you know who are a wreck? How many attorneys can you think of who have health issues that are probably stress and job related? Or worse, who have passed away prematurely due to stress, anxiety and lifestyle? Chances are, when you do not have control of your personal life, your family, business and clients are going to suffer the consequences.

So, what does all of this mean? You must wake up and be intentional about taking care of yourself. Be proactive, not reactive. Get control of your life. Get control of the day. Get control of yourself. Get control of your business. Get control of your clients. And, live the life you looked forward to the day you opened that law school acceptance letter.

Tommy Santel is a co-founding partner of Santel | Garner. Tommy is a former government prosecutor. He is a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 General Civil Mediator. Tommy’s practice areas include criminal defense and civil litigation.

This blog is made available by Santel | Garner for educational purposes only as well as to provide general information and a general overview of the law, not provide specific legal advice. By using this blog and website, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Santel | Garner . This blog and website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.