Corrine's Story

I began my legal career right out of school, working as a legal support assistant within a global corporate law firm, and it all felt quite fabulous, really. I was learning how to manage a salary for the first time, being trained up in the law by excellent solicitors [attorneys], meeting lots of new people, and getting involved in several big, exciting deals. I wasn’t even 20, and I had my own personal assistant.

Two or three months in, I started to notice how the job was affecting my mind. One day I found myself spacing out at my desk – feeling a wave of dizziness and nausea – and once the wave had passed, I noticed I had completely forgotten what I was working on. I was bewildered and quite afraid. I ran to the bathroom to try and pull myself together. Thankfully my colleague found me and, following an awkward explanation of my sudden memory-loss, kindly reminded me of the task she had asked me to carry out. The episodes continued to return and, eventually, it became quite difficult to manage.

I realised something needed to be done, so I tried the free counselling service provided by the firm. I had six sessions, just to see if they helped. Over time I learned some cognitive management techniques that helped to reduce the ‘memory-loss’ episodes I was experiencing. Perhaps, most importantly, the sessions helped me to understand the impacts that stress may be having on me at work and made me more aware of my mental health whilst working on the job. 

Seven years on, now properly training to be a solicitor, stress at work continues to affect me. The anxiety that started to develop when I was younger manifests itself in different ways today. As a junior lawyer, there are numerous expectations and pressures I am expected to manage. On the hard days, it often causes me anxiety. The early morning emails – work demands coming in from twelve different directions. The expectations to meet my deadlines, whilst also showing up to socials and networking events. The fear of asking whether tasks can be left for the next day when it reaches late in the evening, and my team are all still working. Finally, getting home to my family, with missed calls from friends, only to find a new urgent query from a client in my inbox. 

You may be thinking of your own examples here. There are so many demands we face as lawyers, both as juniors and (perhaps more so) further up the career ladder. Anxiety and stress can affect all of us. The good news is, we can learn to manage it. As you deal with stress and anxiety, you may need a friend to walk beside you. Mentors at Issues Lawyers Face are ready to provide a listening ear.


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