There is clearly a mental health issue in the legal industry, but who is really to blame? That’s not so clear and clients aren’t taking the blame laying down –
“The response follows the most recent piece in Law.com’s “Minds Over Matters” yearlong series: an article titled “Constantly on Call” that states that “client demands for fast turnaround times, even on non-urgent matters, can leave outside counsel in constant crisis mode” and that “many lawyers said legal department leaders often don’t think about the impact they’re having on outside counsel’s mental health, or they don’t care—clients pay a high rate for quick responses on all matters.””
The article then goes on the quote a number of in-house legal folks who don’t agree, as you might imagine. You can click over and look at what they have to say about it.
Are there some unrealistic client demands that lead to over stressed lawyers and other law firm staffers? Absolutely. Are there also things that go on internally within an outside firm that add even more stress and pressure?
Truth is, there’s a lot of blame to go around in the industry, but from my perch in Litigation Support, I see both issues. Clients do have unrealistic expectations of how a lot of this work gets done, and the turnaround times involved. Their lawyers, likewise, are extremely reluctant to make any attempt to reset those expectations. They tend to be so afraid that some other firm will meet those expectations, and they will lose the business, thus hurting them in the eyes of their partners, that they almost never push back, or reply with anything other than “yes”, no matter the request.
That’s not good for anyone, and it’s the firm doing it to themselves. I’d agree with that position, even if I think some clients are also to blame.
Like I said, we didn’t get here through one avenue, it took multiple sources to create this mess, it’ll take multiple sources to clean it up.