Redefining Law Firm Success by Prioritizing Attorney Mental Health
Most of us thought that when the pandemic ended, we could get the law firm gears turning at full speed again, and when our attorneys came back into the office again everything would quickly get back to normal. We were wrong.
The Lingering Impact of the Pandemic
Our firms almost never have attorney turnover that isn’t planned. But for us at least, 2023 has started off worse than previous years. What I’ve begun to realize over the past couple of years is attorneys, like many others post pandemic are dealing with elevated levels of stress, anxiety, and regular old burnout that doesn’t seem to be getting much better. By acknowledging these challenges and taking proactive steps to prioritize attorney mental health, firms can create a supportive and sustainable work environment. Investing in the well-being of attorneys not only fosters their personal growth and resilience but also enhances overall firm performance. Together, we can navigate the complexities of the post-pandemic era and cultivate a legal profession that prioritizes mental health and well-being.
Steps to Support Attorney Mental Health
To foster a healthy and thriving work environment in our own divorce and family law firms we had to change some of our internal processes dramatically to make sure we can keep our teams healthy, working together, and profitable. Here are some of the top steps we have taken:
- Attorney one-on-ones: Increasing the frequency and depth of one-on-one meetings between attorneys and their managers is essential. In our offices one-on-ones between attorneys and their managers have become more frequent and much more focused on attorney’s emotional states, what is happening in their life outside of work, and how they are feeling about and functioning in their careers. Remember that many of your attorneys have other family members that may also be struggling or other life issues you may not be aware of. This makes it even harder for your attorneys to be in balance. Without balance you can’t expect your law firm to be high performing
- An insurance plan that includes mental health services: Law firms must prioritize mental health by providing comprehensive insurance coverage for mental health counseling. Encouraging team members to utilize these benefits demonstrates a commitment to their well-being. A few years ago, we made sure that our insurance plans had generous coverage for mental health counseling, and we encourage everyone on our team to consider using these counseling benefits. I am happy to say that a large number of our team members have taken advantage of this with very positive results.
- Personal Development/Wellness Stipend: Lastly, fostering personal development and self-care is paramount. Last year we provided all team members with a $600 personal development/wellness stipend that they can use for self-care. This was not only direct help to our team but it also boosted morale and demonstrated that we understood and cared about the difficult situations we have been finding ourselves in.
While each law firm is unique, taking these steps has been extremely beneficial for our law firms and I honestly think every law firm could benefit from trying these steps.
Shifting Priorities: Balancing Team Well-being and Firm Success
While law firms traditionally focus on marketing, revenue generation, and growth, the current reality demands a shift in priorities. By focusing on the well-being of your attorneys and the rest of your legal staff, you can facilitate a healthier and higher performing work environment. Additionally, shifting your priorities and acknowledging your staff in their current life situations can help you grow practice and generate more revenue for your firm.
Navigating the post-pandemic landscape can present challenges, but it’s important to acknowledge them so you can develop a solution for the good of your practice. The significance of prioritizing attorney mental health cannot be overstated. By implementing strategies that promote well-being, such as regular check-ins, comprehensive mental health coverage, and personal development stipends, firms can foster a healthier and more resilient workforce. I’ve seen it first hand and my practices have never thrived more. While marketing and growth remain crucial, recognizing the need to support and care for one’s team is vital for long-term success. In these challenging times, it is essential for law firms to prioritize our own and our staff’s mental and emotional well-being. Together, we can navigate this new reality and emerge stronger. Hang in there, everyone!