Feel the Burn: Burnout in the Workplace

  • December 04, 2021
  • Olivia Koneval-Brown, Mann Lawyers LLP

“You’re going to burnout.” Many of us have probably heard this phrase, having either been the one telling this to someone or been on the receiving end.

With its stay-at-home orders, working from home, and not having a clear division in our days, the pandemic has made burnouts a more prevalent issue across various professions. Unsurprisingly, the legal field is no exception to that. And yet, it can be difficult to recognize burnout and even cope with it.

People usually define burnout as being state of complete stress where the person is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. It can make ordinary daily tasks seem insurmountable and lead to feelings of hopelessness and negativity. How long this can last differs for each individual and for some can lead to other diagnoses and conditions like anxiety and depression.

Burnout is typically caused by ongoing exposure to high stress. People with certain traits like perfectionism, the need to be in control of situations, meet timelines and stay organized can be more susceptible to this state.

Lawyers are but one group whose day-to-day environment has experienced an increase in stress and pressure since Covid-19 started. As a family lawyer, I can say my colleagues and I have been juggling closed courts and pivoting with new practice directions, parents and parties who are feeling more strain than ever in their personal lives, higher rates of contentious separations, and the truly unprecedented wave of unknowns in all facets of our caselaw. Never have I personally felt so uncertain about my abilities when having to tell a client, “We just don’t know yet how the courts are going to deal with that issue given the impact of the pandemic.”