Access to The Champion archive is one of many exclusive member benefits. It’s normally restricted to just NACDL members. However, this content, and others like it, is available to everyone in order to educate the public on why criminal justice reform is a necessity.
When you became a lawyer, you may have thought of yourself as some kind of superwoman or superman who was able to leap tall courthouses in a single bound. There was a lot of injustice in the world, and you were ready for the fight.
That was then. Now your shingle has been hanging out there for a few years. Is your passion for the law still the same? On Monday mornings, do you have to talk yourself into rolling out of bed and showing up at the office? Do you find that you really don’t like your clients anymore? Have you been asking yourself if what you do makes a difference? If these questions strike a nerve, you might be headed for job burnout.
One of the most widely used indicators of burnout is the Maslach Burnout Inventory. It describes burnout as a syndrome comprised of emotional exhaustion (being drained emotionally by contact with others), depersonalization (feeling cynical and negatively toward people), and reduced personal accomplishment (evaluating one’s work in a negative manner). These symptoms can derive from many sources, including heavy caseloads, disillusionment with the judicial system, conflicts in the office, and failure to meet professional goals.
There are always deadlines to meet, emergency hearings to attend, briefs to write, and client phone calls to take. Stress is part of the profession, and it rears its ugly head on a daily basis. Thus, it is not surprising that lawyers are among those with the highest risk of burnout and other problems including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and divorce. The warning signs of burnout include:
- Loss of enthusiasm for work;
- Chest pains, shortness of breath, panic attacks;
- Increased absenteeism, missing court dates, failure to return phone calls;
- Loss of motivation; and
- Lack of productivity and uncompleted projects.
While the effects of burnout might result in a drop of productivity for some people, others experiencing burnout will step up the pace and try to work harder. Taking on more clients and additional tasks at your law firm, however, will not get you out of the rut.
In order to counter the effects of burnout, you will have to treat both the body and the mind. If you are one of those people who can function on three hours of sleep, good for you. But if you are not, perhaps getting an adequate amount of sleep each night is the first step on the road to recovery. What kind of food do you put in your body? Make sure you eat three squares a day, and make it healthy, please. If you love between-meal snacks (I sure do), make sure they are high protein snacks that will help sustain your energy level all day long. And there are exercises you can do in the office to relieve stress and increase your energy level. Take three or four micro-breaks during the day and do some calf stretches and shoulder rolls. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Instead of e-mailing your colleague, walk down the hall and deliver the message in person.
You should also learn to effectively manage your time. Don’t feel guilty about delegating tasks. Invest in some quality “me” time to do something that is not related to work. Setting aside a certain amount of time each day or week to do something that pleases you might be just what the doctor ordered to recharge your batteries.
Take time to re-connect with family and friends. All too often, busy schedules may cause you to lose contact with loved ones who can offer support, take your mind off work, or give you recognition for your hard work.
And when you walk out of the office at the end of the day, turn off your cell phone. Don’t check e-mail from your home computer. Instead, put your feet up and think about someone who makes you smile and feel good about yourself
Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!