Is Being a Lawyer as Stressful as They Say?



Written by Lauren Erdelyi

Image source: Google

The World Economic Forum show that law is the world’s second-most respected profession after being a doctor. This should come as no surprise. Lawyers are renowned for being high-performing, intellectually outstanding, and hardworking individuals—often with a hefty pay packet to match.

But there’s another side of the coin. While lawyers might benefit from having an elite reputation and plenty of cash in the bank, it can also be incredibly stressful. Many attorneys grapple with long hours, difficult clients, and ever-increasing demands daily.

What type of lawyer is the least stressful?

Real estate law, estate planning law, and intellectual property law are commonly cited as the least stressful types of law to practice. Unlike other practice areas, people’s lives aren’t on the line.

Where you work is important 

A photo of three people sitting at a table with notepads and pens

Unfortunately, there’s generally a tradeoff between the amount of stress you’re willing to take on and your income. 

Corporate law

Working for a corporate law firm is anything but a breeze. Yes, they’re paid eye-watering sums by their clients—but this comes with the expectation that attorneys will always go the extra mile and will be available around the clock. Unsurprisingly, there are countless stories of corporate lawyers turning their back on the sector due to stress and burnout. 


Litigators are in a similar boat. This is an incredibly stressful practice area where cases can drag on for months, sometimes even years. And according to Yuriy Moshes, Founder of Moshes Law, P.C., “Litigation attorneys necessarily work with very difficult people for a living; people who will refuse to give an inch unless they are allowed to take a mile in return.”

Therefore, while litigators are on their clients’ sides, they’re also in the line of fire if things don’t go as planned. Fortunately, not all practice areas are quite as stressful. In other words, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too—practicing law while keeping stress at bay.

Estate planning

Take estate planning, for example. Estate planners don’t need to spend all night responding to urgent requests or strategizing based on a new development in their case. They work fewer hours than litigators or corporate lawyers, so are generally less stressed.

Likewise, lawyers engaged in public-interest work demonstrate greater levels of satisfaction than those in private practice.

Which lawyers earn a decent salary without excess stress?

Intellectual property law

While there’s no exact answer, some say intellectual property lawyers seem to benefit from the best of both worlds. Interestingly, however, the stress lawyers feel might be down to their firm’s size and not speciality, with research suggesting lawyers working for mid-sized firms feel the least stressed. Biglaw is notorious for its “always on” culture, while smaller firms often suffer from a lack of additional resources—meaning lawyers may have to handle their own administrative duties.

In conclusion: Is being a lawyer stressful?

Ultimately, the amount of stress you take on as a lawyer is entirely up to you. Working in high-powered practice areas for reputable firms is undoubtedly stressful. So, take the time to consider who you are. Do you cope well under pressure? Does stress bring the best out of you or make your life miserable? Do you like daily challenges, or would you rather leave work behind when you walk out of the office?

Then, follow a legal career path that suits your specific interests and idiosyncrasies. 



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