How To Prevent Career Burnout in the Legal Profession


Working in the legal profession is not easy. You’re working in an industry that has a reputation for having long hours, intense competition, and temperamental personalities. To survive as a lawyer, paralegal, court reporter, or other legal profession, you’ve learned how to adapt.

However, the problem with how you’ve learned how to adapt is that you’ve skipped the all-important aspects of thriving and growing. The only way to truly adapt, is to have the ability to grow and thrive – something there is little time and space for in the legal profession.

When this happens, you’re soon on the slippery side of career burnout. We want you to avoid this at all costs. Whether you are a lawyer or court reporter in the Pittsburgh area or other major city, burnout risk is real – but it doesn’t need to be your reality.

Read on to learn how you can prevent career burnout in your legal career. And yes, you do have time to read this article – think of your long-term health and well-being.

What is Burnout?

Burnout typically happens in people who are deeply committed to their jobs and were at one time, excited about going to work. When burnout hits, you become overwhelmed with feelings of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. Even the smallest tasks feel like too much and it can be very challenging to meet work deadlines and goals. This creates a cycle of stress and worry that can eventually lead to complete collapse.

Burnout is real and it’s something you want to avoid at all costs. Burnout can happen to anyone, regardless of job title or responsibilities. Learn these symptoms of burnout and be on the look-out for them in yourself, your colleagues, friends, and family.

  • A negative attitude about work – particularly in someone who is normally excited about work.
  • Lacking energy and enthusiasm – this is primarily applicable to work-related tasks but often trickles over into non-work life.
  • Sleeping problems – the stress and cumulative exhaustion can actually make it hard to settle the mind and get a real solid sleep.
  • Skipping work – calling in sick, arriving late, or simply not showing up.
  • A sensation of hopelessness – often people feel as though they have no direction or sense of purpose.
  • General ill-health – headaches, digestion problems, colds, flus, and other illnesses that won’t go away.
  • Moodiness – feeling frustrated with colleagues unnecessarily and having very little patience for those you work with.

As you can understand, these signs and symptoms of burnout are hard to ignore. Pay attention and be aware of stark personality changes in yourself or your colleagues. It’s very easy to slide into burnout without realizing it – particularly when everyone you work with is over-worked, stressed, and tired.

How To Avoid Burnout

To avoid burnout, you need to do more than leave work earlier or to take a vacation. Instead, you need to make large changes in how you approach your work and career.

Keep these strategies in mind and refer to them when you sense your stress levels rising and fear the onset of burnout:

  • Shift your work perspective – this is the ideal time to take a step back from your typical work duties and to explore other career options. For example, maybe you’re curious to learn more about human vs. machine court reporting – take the opportunity to learn about this area, and you’ll find you’re still excited about your legal career.
  • Look for ways to give back – think of ways you can provide mentorship or volunteer within your career. This could mean providing advice to new law school graduates or providing court reporters in major cities such as Pittsburgh and San Francisco with a mentor. Doing so can help spark your excitement about your career and experience feelings of contentment when you’re able to help others.
  • Talk about it – the cycle that leads to burnout doesn’t need to be the reality of the legal profession. Talk to your colleagues and your boss – recognize what is happening at your legal practice and institute measures to stop the cycle of constant work pressure.
  • Exercise – exercise does so much for you. It gives you a chance to clear your head, to burn off stress, to feel good about yourself, to get fresh air, to socialize with non-work friends, and it helps prolong your life.

Avoiding burnout isn’t easy, but it is necessary. You don’t want to be like that colleague that no one really wants to talk about – you know the guy who one day simply couldn’t take it anymore, lost his temper at the office, and was never seen at work again. Pay attention to your mental, physical, and emotional health – and be aware of how much time you’re spending at the office, thinking about work, and working when you’re at home.

If you feel yourself getting close to burnout or overly stressed – reach out and talk to someone. Your mental health is too important – speak up and get the help and support you need.


Clare Louise

The author Clare Louise