Bar associations recognize the inherent stress that comes with being an attorney and have created programs and resources to assist lawyers who are battling the negative effects of stress including alcohol and drug abuse. What makes these programs effective is that they not only take into account the negative effects of stress but also consider the stress triggers that are unique to attorneys. This is important to creating an effective stress management system for attorneys because an attorney’s stress is not the same as that of a military soldier or a taxi driver so the resources and information provided by the bar association is tailored to that of the attorney. The same can be said for the stress of a paralegal. What causes an attorney the most stress is often not the same thing that causes a paralegal stress and therefore must be addressed differently.
To illustrate the difference in the causes and effective techniques for dealing with stress consider the role of a litigation attorney and a litigation paralegal. The attorney’s stress will typically result from working with opposing counsel, judges, and other strategic issues of a case. The stress of a paralegal will usually derive from the working relationship with their managing attorney and the demands of keeping on top of their job duties. Although, they both are working on the same issue because they have different roles and functions the stress will be different and will require a different approach to managing it.
Since paralegals are not regulated by bar associations or any regulatory body this critical element in career management often goes unaddressed and leaves a void in the career development of paralegals. In order to be productive and efficient an individual must have a handle on their job functions and their stress level. If one of these elements is missing it is impossible to function at peak performance. Stress can also spell disaster for a paralegal and their employer if not correctly managed. Following are five methods that can immediately be put to use to manage stress:
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