How to overcome some of the challenges that lawyers face at work
As a lawyer, you face unique challenges at work. You manage a case load, face billable hour targets and are expected to meet extremely high standards in everything you do. Dealing with these challenges can be difficult and so set out below are some hints and tips for overcoming a couple of the common challenges faced by lawyers and to help you succeed at work.
‘I never seem to have enough time to complete my work. I work really long hours and no longer have time to do the things I enjoy out of work. It is making me feel stressed.’
It can be difficult when you have a lot of work to do and this can be stressful. Perhaps take some time to review how you spend your time at work. Use the following points to assist:
- Every morning make a list of the tasks you must complete that day and a separate list of tasks that you would like to complete if you had time.
- Do the thing you least want to do first. You will be so pleased when you have achieved it and feel motivated for the rest of the day.
- Eliminate all distractions when working on a large piece of work. For instance, turn your mobile off and close your emails.
- Focus on one thing at a time. For example, allocate part of the day to making telephone calls and another part to responding to emails and clearing your inbox.
- Are you expected to do everything yourself? If possible, delegate some of your work.
- Learn to say ‘no’ when you have too much work to do and to explain the reason why.
- If you are struggling with a piece of work, ask for help. Feeling that something is beyond your capabilities can make you feel out of control.
- Do you need to work late every day? Ensuring you leave work on time at least once or twice a week will free up time for your personal life.
- Plan to do something you enjoy at least once a week.
Often the smallest alteration to your working day can make the biggest difference in enabling you to work more quickly and effectively. It can also ease feelings of stress.
Dissatisfaction at work
‘I have been wondering whether law is the right career for me for a while now. I don’t feel very motivated or satisfied at work but my options are limited as my skills are so specialised.’
It is not uncommon for lawyers to consider a career change when they are feeling demotivated or dissatisfied at work. If a recent event has made you feel this way then wait until the situation has calmed down or you have managed to resolve it before you make any decisions.
Also, take a look at your current situation. What specifically is bothering you about your current situation - is it the working environment, the subject matter, your work-life balance or something else? A career change may be the answer but consider other solutions too such as changing law firm, changing specialism, in-house work, further training and development, seeking help from your supervisor or even pursuing a hobby out of work.
If you do decide that a career change is right for you, the good news is that you do have transferrable skills. Start having a think about them now. Your skills are likely to include people skills, advanced drafting skills, research and problem-solving skills, excellent oral skills as well as many others that make you employable.
Have a think about how you can over overcome challenges at work and remember that with all challenges you face, if you keep doing what you are doing you will keep getting the same result. Try new techniques and tools to help you succeed.
Tessa is a qualified solicitor and coach providing specialist career support for lawyers.
For more information or to arrange a free consultation visit her website at