Q: Why do you think so many lawyers burn out? I want to avoid that precipice, if possible.
A: It’s entirely possible to avoid burnout, but it does take discipline. Too many lawyers unnecessarily fear losing their jobs, so they strive not just for perfection, but for indispensability. They dread making a mistake (which is inevitable); they forfeit nights, weekends, and vacations…they don’t even like to break for lunch, many days (which is unhealthy); they lose perspective, personality, and a sense of humor…which leads to the loss of friends and even family relationships (which is perhaps saddest of all).
My advice is to stay humble, stay connected to who you were before becoming a lawyer, and heed the age old maxim about doing things in moderation. Work hard but worry less, work hard but rest too, work hard but sustain and enjoy other interests. Keep your priorities straight, be brave enough to strive for excellence but not persistent perfection, and do something outside the law to connect to your community or to help people with problems other than legal ones.
All this, as I said, takes discipline. But it’s easier in the long run than dealing with burnout and its consequences. Bravo to you for looking around you and looking ahead.