Practicing Law – Anxieties Survey Results

When I started Michelle Dionne Thompson Coaching and Consulting, I could have easily just targeted academics with my services because that was the world I was in.

And yet, I remembered what was so challenging about practicing law. It wasn’t just the 80 hours per week for 40K per year. It was the never-ending anxieties that presented themselves with practicing law.

It was very challenging reading the results of this survey.

And it made it clear that as a profession, we need help. And it’s an industry that doesn’t provide lots of space for getting help.

So, I want to share the survey results with you.

I suspect there will be few surprises. And it will be heartbreaking.

Who responded to the survey?

There were 73 respondents (more lawyers than I had EVER heard from). You responded from all sectors, but mostly people who work in small firms – they represented nearly one-third of all the respondents.

Respondents came from a very diverse set of fields. There wasn’t even a majority!

What are your top stressful issues?

·  Dealing with clients was the most stressful thing, earning 45.7% of the responses.

·  Dealing with deadlines came in second with 43.3% of the responses. 

·  The business side of practice came in next with 34.2% of the responses. Respondents could select multiple responses.

Specific Details about the Anxieties?

The specificity is where the heartbreak lives. There were many responses that spoke to money issues ranging from asking clients to pay to what to charge. This looked like a serious component of the challenges of dealing with clients. 

However, acquiring clients provided to be stressful as well as pleasing the clients you currently have. Setting boundaries with clients (and colleagues) was a recurring specific anxiety.

Many of you were concerned that you receive little helpful feedback.

Some of you constantly had the fear of malpractice.

How Do These Anxieties Play Out in Daily Practice?

·  68.5% of you stated it was with general overwhelm and not knowing what to do

·  57.5% of you pointed to lack of sleep

·  53.4% of you stated that it resulted in both procrastination and avoidance.

How Do These Manifest Specifically?

·  Mental problems turn into physical problems.

·  Lack of sleep.

·  Just a constant humming sense of unease.

·  Occasionally my brain won’t shut off thinking about all the things I need to do.

I summarized some of the manifestations as professional and personal isolation.

·  I do everything except what I am supposed to be doing sometimes, which makes me have to work nights and weekends to do the things that have deadlines.

·  I don’t sleep or take time for myself. I’m afraid to ask for help . . . 

·  Mental break down, and it’s draining. Imposter syndrome.

Finally, many of you couldn’t think of one question you wanted to ask a coach. But for the few of you could think of something:

·  How do I set boundaries?

·  How can I advocate better for my own needs?

·  How not to be anxious.

·  Will I have imposter syndrome til I retire or is there a way to overcome that?

·  How can I best work through periods of burn out?

·  How do I get out?

·  How can I better handle stress and anxiety – ie what are some HEALTHY coping mechanisms I can use to better manage these issues.

I’ve been sitting here scrolling on social media because I almost don’t know what to say.

It’s clear that the practice of law has not shifted in level of difficulty and it’s really hard to get support in crucial areas of client management, asking questions to make your life easier, taking care of yourself, hell, SLEEP.

The questions you would ask a coach are the questions I work on with clients. But you can sidle up to me.

Here’s my offer for you – a free one.

I am going to run a webinar called Practicing Law While Feeling Continually Anxious. It will be on July 20 from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. I am going to, for free, provide one solid tool to help you with feeling anxious. You will have zero regrets about joining us. You can register here. Please pass this on to your colleagues because we cannot continue down this road.

Feel free to respond to this email if you have any questions.

I’m sending you all so much love! And please sign up for my newsletter because I will be on a tear addressing these issues for you.