Avoiding Judicial Burnout

The ABA Journal recently had an article about lawyer burnout which certainly has some applicability to judges:

Two character traits—perfectionism and pessimism—are prevalent among lawyers and may make them prone to anxiety, according to Gayle Victor, who worked as a consumer debt attorney for 25 years before becoming a social worker. “Perfectionism helps lawyers succeed in practice because the profession is excessively detail-oriented. In the Johns Hopkins study, optimism outperformed pessimism—except in the legal profession, because lawyers are hired to always look out for what can go wrong.” Stressed-out lawyers account for 75 percent of Victor’s practice, Care for Lawyers, which is based in Evanston, Illinois.

Taken to the extreme, perfectionism transforms into a feeling that nothing is good enough. “Attorneys develop an overdeveloped sense of control, so if things don’t go as planned, they blame themselves. They think they didn’t work hard enough or they were careless,” explains Tyger Latham, a Washington, D.C.-based psychologist who treats many lawyers and law students. “Paid worriers, lawyers are expected to predict the future, to anticipate threats and guard against anything that could arise. So they learn to see problems everywhere, even when they don’t exist. And they start to perceive threats as if they’re life-or-death matters. That’s the very definition of anxiety.”

 

The full article and — more importantly — some suggested solutions can be found here.

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