Worry a Lot

Good lawyers sometimes have trouble sleeping. They wake up in the middle of the night, their mind racked with some minute detail of a transaction. Thoughts swirling about the deposition tomorrow morning. Second guessing the discovery response they filed that afternoon. They think through problems, working towards some type of resolution. They obsess about their cases and clients when needed. There is no “off switch” for taking care of their client’s problems. Being a lawyer is a full time, 24/7 job that will creep into every aspect of your life. It can cause you to worry a fair bit.

worried man

Courtesy Alon.

But worrying is good. Worrying inspires creativity and fuels determination. Worrying can provide caution and attention to detail. Worrying means you are concerned about the matter and have taken personal ownership of the problem. It means that you might come up with a solution to a client issue at the office, in your car, or in the shower. Time away from the office can actually spur innovative solutions to problems – research studies show that our brains actually work better with some downtime. So don’t be surprised by a 2 am epiphany on an issue.

That being said, you can also worry too much. You can beat yourself up with worry. It can become unhealthy and destructive. Just make sure that some of the time and effort spent on worrying about your cases is also spent on actually solving the problems on those cases. It’s a tenuous balancing act – one that I imagine continues over the course of a career.

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About Keith Lee

I'm the founder and editor of Associate's Mind. I like to write, talk, and think about law, professional development, technology, and whatever else floats my boat. I practice law in Birmingham, AL.

2 comments

  1. That we’re lawyers 24/7 is certainly true, but losing sleep isn’t necessarily part of the job. Much as I may think about my work “all the time,” it stops when I hit the pillow. I know my cases will still be there in the morning, and I do much better work after a decent night’s sleep.

    There are times to just let it go, if only for a few hours. Children’s births and weddings are also good times to let it go, by the way.

    • It doesn’t happen to me on a regular basis, but at least once or twice a month I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and my mind will start to drift to a client matter. It’s likely not ideal, but it happens. That being said, a good night’s sleep does wonders to reinvigorate and refresh the mind.

      And I think “letting go” is necessary if you want to maintain some semblance of sanity. I find that exercise that engages me mentally/physically helps tremendously with giving me some necessary mental space away from worries. IE – it’s hard to worry about a transaction when someone is trying to choke you unconscious.

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