Do you break into a rash on your way to work? Do your eyes start to water at the mere thought of facing another divorce client? Do you begin to shake uncontrollably when you picture the stack of depositions piled on your desk?
You’re not alone.
This is the season of pollen, dust, soaring temperatures and suffocating waves of Tim McGraw cologne. Environmental factors take a toll on our health. Allergy sufferers are absent from work around 50 hours each year, according to health statistics.
And when they do manage to drag themselves into the office, they sometimes exhibit what is called “presenteeism” – being there physically, but not mentally. One HR study showed that telephone call center workers were 10 percent less productive when the pollen count spikes.
The law office can be a breeding ground for a different type of allergy. Let’s call it lawallergy. We ache and moan and are mentally sluggish. Our clients, cases, colleagues and co-workers make us sick.
8 Symptoms – and Treatments – for Lawallergy
Sore throat from yelling. The law is a verbal profession. Sometimes too verbal. If you’re having a bad day, don’t take it out on others. Treatment: go for a walk; brew a cup of green tea; listen to Coltrane or Nina Simone – preferably on vinyl.
Coughing up cash. The basic idea is that income should exceed expenses. Which doesn’t always happen. Some cases are born losers. Others appear promising at first but quickly turn ugly. Your head starts to pound as you watch your money – and your time – disappear before your scratchy and bloodshot eyes. Treatment: screen new cases carefully; stop digging if you find yourself in a hole; fire clients who are a financial and emotional drag.
Motion sickness. Drowning in a deluge of deadlines? Wrestling with Requests for Production and Motions to Compel? Struggling with subpoenas? Treatment: break awful assignments up into manageable, bite-sized tasks; delegate; use a triage approach to case management.
Parched and paltry caseload. Seventy percent of people who need legal services can’t get them, says the Reinvent Law Laboratory at Michigan State University’s School of Law. Why? Because they either don’t know a lawyer or don’t know how to find one. Treatment: take an online course in marketing and learn new ways of getting your name out there; use social media to reach prospects; start a blog.
Itching for a change. Mistakes happen when lawyers become bored and burned out. Treatment: take a CLE course on a subject completely unrelated to your practice area; ask to be assigned to a different department; go an entire weekend without thinking about work.
Unable to sleep. Stress limits productivity and generates errors. If unchecked, it can be lethal. Treatment: schedule a vacation; contact BarCARES; learn about the Lawyers Assistance Program.
Nasal inflammation. Perhaps a co-worker is overdoing the Old Spice. Maybe a cubicle mate needs to be introduced to the miracles of deodorant. Or perhaps the ventilation system is doing little more than circulating allergens from one work station to the next. Treatment: have a “clean and green” inspection to make sure your workspace is healthy; develop an office etiquette policy so that everyone is comfortable and effective; eat lunch outside once a week.
Interior congestion. It is easy to get mired in the daily grind and tired of putting out fires. Thinking grows fuzzy and unfocused. The walls begin to close in. Treatment: step away; go camping in the mountains or build a sandcastle on the beach; leave work early to catch your daughter’s soccer game.
Everyone feels rundown at times. For common allergies, there are countless remedies from Afrin to Zyrtec.
Lawallergies can be a bit trickier. The key is to identify the cause of your stress or irritation. Once that is done, the solution is usually obvious.
And when all else fails, take a nap.
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He takes frequent naps. email@example.com, phone 919-619-2441.
Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina and is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which helps lawyers and firms improve their well-being and create saner, more successful law lives. He is available for talks, presentations and confidential consultations.