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Ask Eula Mae: Job Burnout

Posted By NALS Editorial Board, Friday, February 3, 2017

Dear Eula Mae:


I have been working in the same law office for ten years and have tried so hard to grow with the firm.  Lately, I have been too busy to figure out how to do all of this work and I just do it.  Every day is filled with surprises which bring more work and the days just drag on longer.  I try to do too much and have started making silly mistakes that take longer to correct than if I had taken the time to do it right the first time.  It is getting harder and harder to get up in the mornings to go to work.  I used to leap out of bed feeling full of purpose and so ready to get there and do this job.  I am not sure what happened or what to do.


Tired in Tennessee


Dear Tired in Tennessee:


Oh dear!  This sounds like you need to take action right away.  You might need a few days off to reassess your situation.  A good way to start is to make two lists:  what you like about your job and what you do not like about it.  You can tell where this is going.  If the longer list is what you do not like, you will need to dig deeper into solving that problem.


There are so many questions to ask yourself such as, “Do I really want to keep doing this type of work or is it time for a change?”  If it is time for a change, can you make that change in your office or will you need to move to a different area of law or a different law office?  Is it possible to have part of your job reassigned to a newer associate who needs to move to the next phase of their career?  (Teaching is rewarding and can lead to other things.)  Or has your workload increased to the point that it is time to hire another legal assistant?  Either way, it is time to talk with your boss.  Remember, you need to be really well prepared before having this conversation and there will always be things about any job that you do not like. 


If it turns out you need to move to a different law office, that could bring more immediate stress and this plan might need to wait.  If at all possible, work with your boss to see how your job could change and grow.  Let them know you need some time off.  Sometimes even a few days can boost your energy back into happiness on the job.  




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