How Can You Look After Your Mental Health As a Trainee Solicitor?
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 2 seconds
So, you have just landed your absolute dream job and all you want to do is be the best you can be and produce the best work you can. But what happens when it all becomes a bit too much and you find yourself panicking that your effort is not going to be good enough?
Being a trainee solicitor is no mean feat. You are dropped straight into real cases – those which not even the most extensive previous work experience can prepare you for and it is no surprise that for many it feels like a lot is at stake.
Firstly, stress and anxiety in a new job is normal. You are not alone in feeling that you have been dropped into the deep end and it’s okay to acknowledge these feelings. In fact, it is better if you do. Your senior colleagues were once in your position and having expressed your fears and doubts they will understand your worries and be able to support you in the best way.
This is part of their job in training you. Moreover, many law firms have internal resources available to support feelings of stress and anxiety, and there are some steps you can take to care for your mental health.
Trainee solicitors can often be given the responsibility of coordinating much of the paperwork and ensuring that all comes together for their senior colleagues to present the case.
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All of this new-found responsibility after more than two decades of academia can seem impossible to get used to and it is fairly possible for stress and anxiety to really take over and make your new job even harder.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to deal with everything alone. I have never spent time in a law firm where questions weren’t welcome. Everyone’s main goal is to come to the best solution for the specific client. Collaborative thinking is often the best way to ensure the final conclusion is the best one and you don’t have to take it all on yourself.
There is no solicitor in history who has begun their training knowing everything there is to know or knowing the best strategy to go about their work. These are all learned from experience.
Your past experience and knowledge from your degree and your LPC has not evaporated. Whilst perhaps not directly applicable to every case you find yourself working on, the skills you have learned from these experiences will be invaluable to you in every case you undertake.
Once you remove the pressure to know everything and do everything yourself it will be surprising how much you actually can do alone. Additionally, don’t let the fear of making a mistake halt your efforts. You are allowed to make mistakes, especially in the early days of your training. Often, you are even expected to.
As long as you learn from every mistake you make and really take on board the constructive advice offered to you by your team then you will gain more confidence every time. Stress and anxiety for similar projects will melt away as you realise you now have the knowledge and experience to carry it out yourself.
Finally, if stress and anxiety stemming from your work is really affecting your ability to do your job and even more importantly live your life then there is no shame in asking for help.
Workplace stress is a largely unspoken about problem which many people face in silence and can cause serious repercussions for your personal mental health if you don’t address it. Don’t put pressure on yourself to appear to have it all together, as social media often makes us feel we have to seem to be.
Help is available through your GP, occupational therapy and psychologists to help you control these worries, and don’t be afraid to seek support from friends and family. You are no longer in a position to help others with their legal problems if you don’t first prioritise caring for yourself.