What Do We Know About Burnout in The Legal Industry?

Lawyers often get overwhelmed by work. By nature, their job is incredibly stressful. And with the pandemic crisis, their work even got more exhausting. The highly demanding workload, industry competition, and their clients’ expectations all serve as factors in putting law professionals into burnout.


But what does burnout mean? Sure, we get tired. But isn’t a good night’s sleep a sufficient immediate relief we need? Or is there more to this that we have no clue of?


According to the World Health Organization, “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job…”


Certainly, a lawyer’s job is demanding which makes them prone to experience burnout in the workplace. They can be required to work for very long hours plus the pressure of managing the business, and a rapidly changing legal landscape all contribute to their stress. In September and October 2020, a survey of more than 4,000 United States lawyers was conducted, and the results published a year later concluded that lawyers were mostly worried about doing it all. But while this is not the same story for every lawyer, the statistical report points out a profession under great stress.


The following are some signs that you are experiencing burnout:


Becoming cynical

If you are normally even-headed but find yourself becoming critical at work and getting high-tempered, it could be a sign of burnout.


Retreating from your job

A shift in your focus or motivation can be a serious sign of burnout especially if you struggle to stay focused or motivated and it is already starting to affect your productivity at work.


Insistent feelings of exhaustion

If you are insistently feeling exhausted even after getting a good rest, this could be a sign that you are experiencing burnout.


Headaches or other physical complaints

If you are noticing persistent headaches or other physical complaints, seeing a doctor is very important. If the issues can’t be explained, it could be a sign of stress and burnout.


Easily irritable or impatient

If you notice that there is an increase in how irritable you are with people in your workplace, or maybe when a colleague mentioned something to you about this, this could be a sign to consider that you might be having a lawyer burnout.


Sleeping habits

If you suddenly find sleeping difficult to do when normally it’s not the case, it’s time to assess what may be causing it. It could either be a lack of work-life balance or something else in your life.

In the first quarter of 2021, Bloomberg Law surveyed lawyers’ workload and hours. The report showed that lawyers experienced burnout more often and declined their well-being. On average, 61% of the respondents reported working for 53 hours and 43 hours billed per week. 44% said they were satisfied with their work, 36% said their wellbeing slightly worsened for the past quarter. When asked which issues and challenges they experienced that greatly affected their wellbeing, 67% shared that disrupted sleep and the trouble disconnecting from work led them to experience burnout. This was followed by anxiety and increased tasks/responsibilities at work.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has become another factor in boosting this issue and showed us how the imbalance in a lawyer’s work-life plays a role in their mental health and overall wellbeing. With more lawyers now working remotely, it has become relatively harder to create boundaries and space, thus bringing the burnout rate to an all-time high.


Mental Health

A major pain point for lawyers is setting boundaries. Managing work and home, being isolated from the workplace, and the thought of whether working full-time is worth it brings them much higher levels of stress to their mental health.


Remote Work

While lawyers during the pandemic shifted to doing remote work, their efficiency did not change meaningfully, however, those with small children experienced a drastic dip in their productivity.



  • Create boundaries between home and work.
  • Keep a weekly diary to help you identify the issues that stress you out.
  • Stick to a routine with sensible working hours.
  • Break complex tasks into more manageable pieces.
  • Prioritize and do not over-commit.
  • Use your leave credits.
  • Utilize your lunch break and short breaks during the day.
  • Eat healthily and exercise.
  • Work out what helps you stay calm.





One of the advantageous perks of having a virtual legal assistant is reduced cost. Hiring a VLA allows you to delegate admin tasks and other duties without any additional overhead expenses like tax and health insurance among others.



Administrative tasks and other work can keep you from actual lawyering and operating your firm. Time is money, especially in the legal industry. A Virtual Legal Assistant can handle a variety of admin tasks, allowing you to focus on more important matters.


Customized Assistance

With a Virtual Legal Assistant, you have complete freedom to develop your task according to your specific needs. You can put them in areas where you need the most support. This allows you to create a flexible schedule that fits your needs.


Burnout is a very serious and big problem. Acknowledging that you are going through it and identifying the things that burn you out are key in solving this issue. Law Firm Cat offers meaningful strategies and solutions to help get so much weight off of your shoulders so you can start realigning your focus on more important matters concerning your professional career and overall wellbeing.

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