Mental Wellness in the Legal Profession

Posted June 27th, 2022 by Urban Legal Recruitment

It seems ironic that the very attributes of a successful legal professional are the ones that most challenge mental wellness. High levels of empathy, patience and perseverance are required under ever-changing, fast-paced conditions - often subjecting lawyers and legal staff to high levels of stress.

According to research conducted by sociologists Ronit Dinovitzer and Jonathan Koltai, lawyers experience a higher risk of mental illness and addiction than many other professions and the legal community must rise to meet mental health challenges.  

“Lawyers and other legal professionals shoulder a great deal of responsibility, dedicate themselves to the interests of others, and work under high levels of pressure,” says Stacy Cowan, founder of Urban Legal Recruitment. “The legal industry has traditionally viewed mental health issues as weakness, but this is thankfully changing.” 

Legal professionals typically struggle to achieve a work-life balance, putting their mental health at risk. However, there are steps you can take to minimize risks and avoid burnout and less than optimal client outcomes. 

Owning your Mental Health 

Studies suggest mental health issues are significantly more prevalent in law than in most other professions. And the more lawyers get paid, the more likely they are to experience depression, dissatisfaction with their career choice and an unhealthy work-life balance. 

Our increased knowledge about mental health, along with the effects of the pandemic, has accelerated acceptance and decreased the stigma. 

The signs

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) reports that in any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness. And by age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.

Signs of declining mental health vary from person to person. Below are a few potential indicators.

  • Difficulty managing emotional responses such as sadness, anger, irritability, and frustration. Overreacting to everyday events, or becoming inexplicable sad.  
  • Sleep issues - either not being able to sleep or sleeping too much. Insomnia or a feeling of ‘tired’ you just can’t shake. 
  • Persistent sadness, low energy and lack of interest in favourite activities. Inability to find the energy to partake and enjoy life. 
  • Feelings of disconnection and isolating yourself from friends and family. Consistently wanting to be left alone.
  • Inability to focus and concentrate. Finding it takes longer to complete familiar tasks and experiencing impaired memory. 
  • Increased (or decreased) use of food, overuse of alcohol or other substances to cope. 

If you are experiencing severe symptoms or thoughts of suicide, please reach out to your family, friends, healthcare provider or Crisis Services Canada. 

What can you do?

“I remember sitting in my room for four or five days not wanting to be alive, not talking to anybody. That was a struggle for me … I reached that point where I finally realized I couldn’t do it alone” — Michael Phelps | Competitive Swimmer, US | Most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals (quote from article 22 Male Athletes Speaking Out About Depression)

Life. Career. Opportunity Awaits. If you have any questions, are considering a change, or just want to chat, we would love to hear from you. 

At Urban Legal Recruitment, we have experienced, along with our clients, the impacts of COVID-19.  We’ve made the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of our team members and our clients.