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1st June 2022

Burnout Within the Legal Sector: How Can You Avoid It?

In 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined burnout, an occupational phenomenon, as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. 

Burnout can take many forms, including social withdrawal, chronic exhaustion, irritability and reduced professional efficacy, and can be brought on by lack of autonomy, high workload, and lack of support and recognition. 

Research carried out by the legal mental health charity, LawCare, has shown that legal professionals are at high risk of burnout, with more than two-thirds of lawyers suffering from poor mental health over the past year, with women, millennials, disabled and BAME individuals being at the highest risk. 

It is important that law firms do what they can to minimise the risk of employee burnout. In this blog, we explore how you can use technology to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ensuring a mentally healthy workforce. 

Use your data to pinpoint problem areas 

For the legal sector, time is valuable – every minute matters when working on a case, so it is vital that fee earners can work efficiently and effectively.  

As discussed in our previous blog post, data is one of the most underrated, and therefore underused assets within a law firm. When used correctly, data analytics and reporting can enable you to easily identify where your time is going as well as pinpoint holes in your productivity.  

Once armed with this information, you can make necessary changes, such as automating time-consuming, repetitive tasks, allowing your fee earners to focus on billable and/or value-added tasks.  

Automate administrative tasks 

Since communication has become digitised, clients are demanding immediate information and expect their lawyer to meet these expectations. By optimising your case management system (CMS) to automatically send updates, such as progress reports, when a new document is available to view and if there is an action that your client needs to complete, you can improve communication with clients, keeping them better informed, whilst making the most of limited fee-earning time. 

Furthermore, implementing automated workflows into your processes can offer your fee earners the tools required to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently, eliminating the pressures of high workloads and reducing time spent on repetitive and time-consuming administration tasks. 

Focus on your wellbeing with Microsoft Teams 

Microsoft Teams, with its rich functionality and integrations into the Office 365 suite, is a powerful tool for law firms. But the ‘always-on’ nature of instant messaging applications can contribute to stress. 

In response to this issue, Microsoft developed new features, and partnered with Headspace, to enrich the user experience and encourage healthy working practices. Some of these features include: 

  • Wellbeing and productivity insights – providing individuals and managers with personalized insights and recommended actions to make changing habits and improving wellbeing easier 
  • Virtual commute – designed to help users mark the start and end of their working day by reviewing priority tasks, checking their mood and offering 10 mins of meditation with Headspace to unwind 
  • Protect Time – helping users to set aside time for focused work, breaks and personal commitments by blocking out time in their calendars 

Further to leveraging technology to help to reduce stress, free up time and streamline processes, there are many other wellbeing exercises that your workforce can do to reduce the risk of burnout. From taking regular breaks, to exercising and getting enough sleep, it is important that you take care of your mental health.  

Check out this article from Thrive for more tips on how to get ahead of stress, or visit the Viva Insights Inspiration Library via your Microsoft Teams app. 

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