The question of burnout in the legal profession, as in many other high-stress professions, has been explored and remains a serious concern as it impacts the health and well-being of lawyers and can significantly compromise job satisfaction, effectiveness, and one’s livelihood. As greater attention is given to the complexities surrounding mental health and well-being within the legal profession, another concern now being explored more fully is compassion fatigue, also known as vicarious trauma and secondary traumatic stress. A 2017 ABA Journal article addressing compassion fatigue describes it as “the cumulative physical, emotional and psychological effect of exposure to traumatic stories or events when working in a helping capacity, combined with the strain and stress of everyday life” (tinyurl.com/y2z4dhm5). As members of a helping profession, we lawyers will find ourselves working with clients and on matters for which there is great emotional strain. This is in addition to the stress experienced by the demands and responsibilities of the case, client, opposing parties, judge, and family. Some areas of law practice are steeped in trauma and suffering, while others touch these raw areas from time to time.
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