Burnout in the legal profession is by no means uncommon. But there is also a big difference between the high stress that comes with being an attorney and being burned out. Most lawyers love what they do, and working around the clock is a way of life for them. Many even live by the old adage, “you can sleep when you’re dead”.
It isn’t until they start to resent the often repetitive business development work that true burnout occurs. Enter the business development aspect of running your small law firm or solo practice. If you’ve already stretched yourself too thin, trying to focus on business development strategies could result in business development burnout fast.
In an industry where attorneys are almost permanently attached to their smartphones and unable to completely detach from work, you have to take steps to protect yourself and your small law firm by preventing burnout from impacting your business. Unsure of where to start? Here’s how!
What to Do When You’re Already Burned Out
Are you starting to feel fatigued all the time, no matter how much sleep you get? Do you feel like you’re working 24/7 but not making the progress you hoped for? Are you having trouble focusing or feeling more cynical about life lately? If so, you may be experiencing attorney burnout.
Focusing on business development is essential and necessary if you want your law firm to thrive. Unfortunately, if you’re burned out, you’re not going to be able to give these development strategies your energy or attention, and they are unlikely to be successful. If you’re already in burnout, you need to first address your physical and mental health.
Take a break from work for a few days, or a week if you can. During this time, start to implement serious lifestyle changes. Examine your diet— are you getting the nutrients your body needs to feel good physically? Prioritize exercise and make sure you get enough sleep at night. You might also consider giving up things like caffeine and alcohol, which will only keep you on edge. You could also look into some stress management techniques and ways to improve your time management skills so you can fit your business development plans in without worry.
During your break, make it a rule to respect your time off. Don’t check your work email. Don’t listen to voicemails. This is your time to laugh more, enjoy your family, and find purpose. Then, you need to be prepared to head back to work with your priorities in check, and a new personal priority: your physical and mental health.
Preventing Business Development Burnout in the Long-Term
Once you have your burnout under control, it’s time to take steps to prevent it from happening again; especially when it comes time to focus on your law firm’s business development plans. Here are some steps you can take to prevent business development burnout for your law firm.
Take Time to Create Manageable Law Firm Business Development Plans
If you don’t already have business development plans in place, now is the time to start planning. Don’t make the mistake of creating business plans on a whim. It’s a sure way for your law firm to fall apart before it even has a chance of gaining traction.
Instead, work through your business plans detail by detail. This includes market analysis, how your law firm is managed, marketing, finances, and more. If you plan to get help with certain aspects of your business, such as hiring a digital marketing company to handle your marketing and advertising efforts, this is also the time to figure out what your goals are in this area and how they fit into your law firm’s business plan as a whole. If you can’t do it on your own, hire help to stay consistent with business development.
Figure Out How to Manage Your Goals with Help
Now that you have a solid foundation for your business development plans, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to accomplish these goals without experiencing burnout. The best way to do this is by breaking up your business plans. By working on smaller portions of your plan at a time, you won’t have to worry about being overwhelmed by your law firm’s business plans as a whole.
This is the time to go through your plans and prioritize. Which ones are most important to your law firm’s success, and which can wait? For example, if you already operate a successful law firm in Spokane but want to expand and open up a second location in Seattle, you should start with your market analysis. Don’t worry about getting your marketing team on any advertising materials or new content for your website just yet. You can prevent burnout by taking your business plans one step at a time.
Be sure to continue to monitor the progress of your business plans along the way. If you need to do weekly or semi-monthly reviews to make sure that you and your team are staying on schedule, set those up. If you find yourself getting behind on your plans, be prepared to adjust and evaluate on an as needed basis. It’s okay if your plans need to get set back as long as your goals are being steadily accomplished.
Celebrate Your Law Firm’s Successes
As you work through your business development plans, you’ll be crushing your goals along the way. Celebrating these achievements can give you and your team the boost you need and prevent business development burnout. Make sure to celebrate with the people who support you and your law firm. That might include your staff, their families, your peers, your family, your network, and your social media followers.
Maybe one of your goals was to increase your web presence on Instagram. Doing a giveaway or promotion when you reach your goal number of followers could be a great way to celebrate with your supporters. When you finally open that law firm office location in Seattle, throw an office-warming party for your team. You and your staff deserve it.
So many lawyers are stuck in professional development burnout and they don’t need to be. If you’re feeling professional development burnout, now is a good time to recalibrate and get back on track. If you know that your marketing could be handled by an offsite team, this frees you up to focus on your client services directly.