Stress among lawyers

Elwork and Benjamin (1995) tried to adapt the general model of stress to the profession of lawyers. They identified the following three groups of circumstances and characteristics of lawyers and their work environment—stressors, consequences of stress and interventions. Stressors that according to Elwork and Benjamin (1995) are characteristic for the profession of lawyers are related to their workload, tasks and time constraints. In the form of stressors lawyers also experience strains that result from aspects of the legal system and of norms and values specific for the communication between lawyers and other law professionals and between lawyers and their clients. Strains can also result from unrealistically high or unspoken expectations on the part of clients and from the responsibility to solve problems that in most cases affect their clients’ personal lives. An interesting concept is that of professional mystique based on the theory of Cherniss (1980) and listed by Elwork and Benjamin (1995) as a possible stressor. The concept of professional mystique is not specific to the occupation of law professionals but to all qualified professions. It describes a phenomenon related to the existence of an unrealistic representation of given profession and its representatives. Because of this mental representation both sides might have unrealistically high expectations—on the part of the client that might affect his/her expectation of a positive result that is impossible to be fulfilled; on the part of the lawyer that might lead to too high expectations of his/her professional abilities and work duties. When none of the expectations could be satisfied, both sides would likely feel disappointed. The third group of stressors in the model of Elwork and Benjamin (1995) is called personal factors among which are type A behavior, aggressiveness, analytical thinking. Although Elwork and Benjamin (1995) listed personal factors under the category of stressors, they assumed that personal factors might in fact moderate the relationship between stressors and stress consequences. Näsström and Mesick (2006) found it reasonable to list them in a separate category.