By Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C

Why is the Legal Profession so stressful?

  • Adversarial profession. Someone is always working against you to undo what you are doing, prove you wrong, and prevent you from the outcome you want for your client. The need to be perfect and not make mistakes is high.
  • Multiple demands
  • Lawyers are high achievers and tend to have a Type A Personality. 
  • Lawyers often hide their emotions and show a tough exterior to maintain professional demeanor.
  • Conflict between personal beliefs and professional responsibility to their clients.
  • Secondary Trauma 

Secondary trauma, has been described as the cumulative physical, emotional and psychological effects of being continually exposed to traumatic events or stories when working in a helping capacity.

Symptoms of Secondary Trauma:

  • Heightened stress levels
  • Excessive tendency to blame others when things go wrong
  • Mentally and physically tired
  • Substance abuse and other addictive behaviors used to mask feeling
  • Irritability and pessimism
  • Chronic physical ailments
  • Apathy, sadness, no longer finds activities pleasurable Isolation from others
  • Bottled up emotions
  • Preoccupied
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Triggers your own past trauma

Managing your stress and protecting yourself from Secondary Trauma:

  • Avoid Isolation
  • Find balance – look at what is important in your life
  • Seek support to discuss emotions around difficult case material
  • Sandwich difficult case material between less emotional  casework
  • Get a mentor
  • Allow time to decompress
  • Find non addictive ways to reduce stress
  • Develop friendships that are supportive
  • Maintain your boundaries
  • Maintain good health
    • Exercise
    • Eat right
    • Rest
    • Have fun
    • Ask for help when you need it


The Lawyer Assistance Program(LAP) has Assisted Thousands of Maryland Lawyers

For Confidential Assistance Call 888.388.5459

LAP  provides free, confidential assistance to all Maryland lawyers, judges, law school students, and support staff by offering assessment, referral, short-term counseling, and continued support to ensure long term success.  If you are concerned about another lawyer you can make an anonymous  referral to LAP. We offer financial assistance for Mental Health and Addiction Treatment.

Please feel free to reach out to our LAP Committee Members and Volunteers