We all know, working as a lawyer is tough, with poor mental health, burnout and attrition being common symptoms of our high-pressure industry. Given that resilience is critical to maintaining our wellbeing and managing stress, it’s clear this skill is vital to being a successful – and happy – lawyer.
Resilience can be viewed as the capacity for stress-related growth. It’s our ability to develop coping skills when faced with adversity, and to bounce back after receiving criticism or rejection.
An inherent or acquired trait?
Throughout your Bachelor of Laws, you were taught to foster a pessimistic mindset. This is not ‘the glass is half empty’ type of pessimism. But rather, a clear and consistent message to see issues as ‘permanent, pervasive and uncontrollable’ – which is important when it comes to law.
In a legal setting, this mentality helps you assess and rectify problems. But permanently holding this less-than-sunny outlook can lead to persistent stress and burnout.
Is it a fixable problem?
Regardless of whether the chicken or egg came first, there is one glaring gap in a lawyer’s education that accounts for a lack of resilience: they receive little training in stress management and vicarious trauma.
If this training were a part of a legal practitioners training from the outset, they would be able to better implement effective strategies to manage their resilience and, therefore, their mental health.
So whether our industry’s lack of resilience is due to nature or nurture, there is a remedy to the situation: mental health training and better awareness and support systems within our industry.
Is it time to upskill in this vital area?
It’s not too late to build the skills needed to foster better workplace mental health.
The College of Law is offering courses to help legal professionals better support co-workers experiencing mental health challenges.
You will learn how to recognise the signs and symptoms of poor mental health in colleagues and employees. And you will build the skills to respond and offer appropriate support.