March 14

Lawyer Burnout and Stress

Stress Less


This might be one of the most important articles and videos you review this year.  I transformed my life and radically reduced my stress levels by implementing this information.  

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Can You Stress Less and Have Some Balance?

Who am I?

I know you're burned out. I know you're frazzled. Why do I know this? Because I have been in your shoes. I understand what it feels like to feel totally overwhelmed by the practice of law.

I used to work between 12 to 15 hours a day, 6 days a week. I know burnout, I know getting sick from too much stress, I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed, stressed, and worried too well. I also know how to recover from and now know how to help you reduce your stress in most cases by half or more. I reduced my stress (which I teach about in my Stress Less Course) by over 90%+.

When I found myself sick and in the hospital with an irregular heartbeat, I said to myself- “There has to be a better of living and practicing law than I have currently been operating from.” So I began to research and study ways of operating my law firm and my life, and this article will give you some of the basics of my research and what I implemented in my own life that had such a positive impact.    

Hey, my name is Adam Ouellette, founder of Esquire Academy. I practiced for 20 plus years until my wife and I decided to move to North Carolina, and I really didn't want to take the North Carolina bar. We practiced down in Florida for many, many years, and I decided it was time for me to take everything I had learned over 30 plus years of being a researcher, and share it with other suffering attorneys. I had done everything I wanted to do as a lawyer and a law firm owner.

I made a excellent living, and focused on what I did best, which was rainmaking. BUT- I stressed myself out to the point where I got sick in the first couple of years of my law practice. On the plus side, I learned so much from being so stressed out, getting sick, having adrenal exhaustion, migraine headaches, and getting flus and colds three, four, five times a year. All of this was a definite blessing in disguise for me, but for you now as well!

This article and video will help you realize that stress is an inside job.

I like to call myself a "researcher" and a student of life.  I was always looking for new books, coaches, and webinars that I could learn from.  I wanted to be the best version of myself as possible that wasn't stressed and someone who lived from what I like to call the "quiet center".

I want to help you to take a look at stress differently. And in this article, we're going to look at stress under a microscope. I want your life to change as mine did many years ago.

What kind of law did I practice?  I did civil litigation and a lot of transactional work. It was probably around 70/30. Civil litigation was about 30%, and the rest was transactional work. I did a lot of real estate law, business law, and I represented banks in their real estate closings. I did commercial and residential real estate closings (thousands of them). I was crazy stressed. I had been working twelve to fifteen hours a day, six days a week for many, many years. I worked for a solo practitioner right out of law school and became his law partner in six months!

What was the cost of all this work? I was pushing myself hard. The cost was my health.  I ran myself down to the point where the adrenal exhaustion created thyroid issues, which then caused me to have irregular heartbeats.My thyroid got infected and it was pumping out cortisol, adrenaline,  and all kinds of chemicals for no reason, which caused my heart to go out of rhythm. One of the reasons I'm doing this video, the articles, the StressLess course is because I don't want you to hit the wall like I did.

I began to ask-  "There's got to be a better way to live and be a lawyer".

Lawyer Burnout, Stress, and Anxiety

A Primer

So let's talk briefly about why we're so stressed and filled with anxiety as I alluded to before. Stress is an inside job. It does not come from outside us, it's literally something we do to ourselves. Stress and anxiety are closely tied together, and operate in unison in many people. 

Let me give you a quick explanation of what stress and anxiety really are.  The definition in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary online, the "essential definition", as they call it: 

"Stress: a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, et cetera."

So mental tension and, to a certain extent, worry caused by the problems that you have in your life. The definition of anxiety from the same online dictionary: 

"Anxiety: fear or nervousness about what might happen."

So being anxious means we're afraid of the future. What's going to happen? You don't know, and become worried and nervous about the possibilities. So, stress is usually accompanied by a state of anxiety because of the mental tension and worry caused by the current problems that are occurring in your life. Sadly, one of the issues that causes more stress IS our anxiety and worry ABOUT the future... 

So anxiety is what's going to happen in the future. I'm not sure, I'm uncertain, I want certainty, I want control, which is another piece of why we are stressed. We try to control everything in our lives.  One of the things I realized early on in my journey is that life is very uncertainty, so why not embrace it, or at the least be neutral about it. 

A lot of us become lawyers because we want to try to control our lives. And we find that being in legal practice and in the legal field is all about uncertainty. What's that opposing counsel going to do next? What kind of crazy shit will I have to deal with next? I know what it feels like. 

We live in a constant state of fight or flight. Think about it. We live like a lion is chasing us or someone's got a gun pointed our head. We have this anxiety that is present with us 24/7.  Would you like to change this?  Keep reading! 

I want to teach you more about this constant fight or flight in my free video series. And I'm going to allude to this a couple of times because I think every lawyer needs to know how to have less stress in their lives. This is an integral part of what should be taught to us in law school (maybe in grade school).

End your constant fight or flight anxiety battle:

Stress Less Lawyer Training

Get Access to the Stress Less Resource Page

Why are we so stressed and burned out?

We've got lots of stress and pressure. We deal in high stake stuff, right? A lot of us are very afraid of malpractice because it looms under every single thing we do. 

You might say to yourself, or feel like: "Oh, my God! Am I going to screw this up?" Let's be brutally honest about the practice of law. I don't care if you've gone to the extent of becoming board certified, most of us fly by the seat of our pants in the practice of law because there is so much we don't know about our niches, and we can't keep up with it all.  Information overload! 

I think this is why doctors have such high anxiety and stress levels, too, because every day there is new information coming out about medicines, and all the rest. And most doctors don't have the time, (neither do lawyers), to keep up with it all.  So, wow, there's lots of pressure and stress because of that alone.

Too Much Competition, Too Many Lawyers

There's too many of us. There is so much competition in the law, which is a topic I write about in my book called Raising the Bar. Want the first three chapters free?  Want to learn more about why the legal profession is in such bad shape and my "10 Steps to Awakening"? My book is an integral part of my 100-day plan to drastically reducing your stress and anxiety levels. 

When you join me in the Stress Less course, which I call "Stress Less Plus", you're going to get the e-book for free. 

I'm Just Too Busy! But Are You Really?

We think we've got too much work, and not enough time to do it all.  But this is usually not the case.  The reason for this misperception is that we're really just disorganized, even though we think we're not. 

I've heard this time and time again from my attorney consulting clients who believe they have a decent amount of organization in their live, and I have to break it to them that the opposite is true. Let me share with you how to truly get organized, so that you can get so much more done in a lot less time. You just can't show up at the office and start to deal with all the pressing problems that are screaming at you and think you're organized. That's how we deal with life. Are you using your email inbox as a to-do list? If the answer is yes, then you need to learn more about what I teach!

Not a Profession, But a Business...

upset attorney

This is one of the reasons why we're so stressed out. It is a business. It's really not a profession anymore. For the last 30 or 40 years, the law has become more and more about money and business, and less about being a profession.  Now, if you're an associate in a big law firm, you got a lot of pressure to bill, every attorney has the pressure to rainmake, and bring in money. It's about making money nowadays, and not about the clients. Read more about the downward spiral of the law in Raising the Bar.  

Do You Like the Work You Do All Day?

Businesswoman reading notepad at creative office with colleagues in background

Sadly, there's lots of unhappy lawyers in the world. I want to talk to the unhappy lawyers in the bunch right now. Some of us (I was one) that do not like the actual work we do day in and day out.

I didn't like the practice of law, but I really enjoyed was the business aspects of owning my own firm. I liked bringing in business, rainmaking, networking and bringing business in. I didn't like the work of being a lawyer.

Don't get me wrong, I was okay at it, and I did it, but not with much gusto. I was excellent at real estate closings, which is one of the niches that we were in. But, man, after thousands of real estate closings, I was like, how many times can I explain a note mortgage and not want to scream?

It's really sad how many of us that don't like what we do all day long. If you don't like about 70% of the total of work you do every day, you should look into leaving the law. It's not your life purpose.

It's not what you're good at. The reason is lots of us chose law school without much research, without much thought. And as a result, we're in a profession that really isn't aligned with our "unique genius" or your life purpose.  Part of my mission is to help lawyers have a happy career and life in or out of the law. So, if you think this might be something that you want to explore, see the link below.

Leave Law Behind Logo

Attorney Stress Management

You hear a lot about attorney stress management or stress management in general. This is a term of art that's been out for 30 or 40 years. Stress management? How do you manage stress?  I've got news for you, when you manage stress you are actually dealing with stress after it has occurred. What I have come to learn and use in my life, is we can do quite a bit to eliminate the reasons why we are stressed in the first place.  Let's deal with it before you allow it to occur. It is all about your mindset, beliefs, projections, and perceptions. As I said before, stress is an inside job. 

The Power of Your Heart

Next, let's talk about the power of the heart, and how your heart is a key factor in stressing less. Did you know that the heart has up to 40,000 neural i.e., brain cells in it. The heart has its own consciousness, and its own energy center. As a certified trainer for Heartmath, I know how profound the connection with our heart can be. The techniques which I teach in this science and peer reviewed studied work literally saved my life.  I was heading for a nervous breakdown or a heart attack, and this work helped me center and calm my body and mind, as well as helped me to begin to look at how I was doing stress to myself.  

Heart rhythms

Which heart rhythm would you want on an everyday basis?

When you join me in the Stress Less + course you will have an opportunity to learn how to connect your heart and brain, and how to be more coherent and resilient. The intro hour of this training is included in the StressLess + course. This training is that important to helping you look at stress differently, and giving you the tools to almost instantly calm your mind and body. You get coherent, which means you're syncing up your heart and your mind, and you're more resilient, which means you have more energy. What is this training you might ask?  Heartmath! It's science based and peer reviewed work 9 over 400 studies and 30 years of work) that has such significance in the world. Millions of people have been trained in heart math, and I am bringing it to lawyer since I am a certified trainer. More info on this and more in the resource page!  Sign up already!  LOL

Want to know more about how my Heartmath for Lawyers training can assist your law firm and team? Click here to find out more info.  

Meditation for Lawyers?

Can it assist you in reducing your stress?  Sure, but it deals with it after the stress has occurred.  I meditate daily, not because I have any stress, but it is nice to quiet the mind. For now, I think it would be helpful for you to use mediation to relax and let go of your stresses of the day.   

As I said I do it every day. I know how to do it very well, and have been meditating for 25 years. I'm going to give you a simple meditation to do in this article, so keep reading. "Breathwork" is one of the meditations that I teach and that I've learned over the years. Meditation is very profound because it slows down the mind and gives your mind and body a break. I'm not going to get into too much depth around meditation and the benefits of it.  You should meditate every day if you can fit it in your schedule.

So ready for very simple but effective meditation technique? All you have to do is follow your breath in and out. Put all of your focus, all of your attention on your breath. Unless you are an experienced meditator, your mind will tend to wander. Right? It will. No worries, do not judge it, just bring your attention back to the breath. All your attention on the breath, just follow the breath in and out. Very simple, very easy meditation. Try it out for 5 minutes to start, and work up to 20 or 30 minutes a day. It will begin to calm your mind and body. 

Part of our stress challenge is we've got a mind that goes on and on and on, over and over and over like a hamster in a wheel. Once you start to slow your thinking down with that very simple meditation, you can build up to more peace and quiet.

There's lots of apps and training out there that will teach you meditation. If you go on Netflix, you can learn some more about meditation. Headspace is on Netflix. It's also an app. I've used it just to see how it was. It's actually very good. There's lots of other apps, so see what resonates with you.


I would rather call it present moment because it really has nothing to do with being full of your mind. It's about having the ability to direct your attention. This moment, right now, is really all we've got. The past is gone, never to return, and the future never gets here. Being present occurs when we stop resisting what's happening in the moment, we are not worried about the past or the future.  This is a process, it takes time, but with study and implementation you can ground yourself more in the moment.  

Beliefs and Your Reality

Did you know you are not living your own life?   I'm going to give you a very brief outline of how beliefs impact your stress levels and your life. Ultimately, your beliefs create everything in your world. Everything in your life is created by your beliefs.  

And get this: 

You're not living your own life! You're living a combination of your parents lives, coupled with what society, your education, and familial indoctrination you bought into. Your beliefs are not your own. That's why I said this is huge. When accept that you are living someone else's life you might get pissed off at first. Once you understand how most of your beliefs were formed by the time you were SEVEN years old, and then cemented in you by the time you reached fourteen, you will want to do something about this. 

If you believe your life is hard (which most of us believe), if you think being a lawyer is stressful, guess what, you live a stress filled difficult life! Ready to start the process of uncovering your beliefs and replacing them with beliefs you choose?  My book is the place to start, which has a very powerful set of questions to ask yourself, and begin to uncover what you have stuck in your subconscious mind! 

Delegating Work You Do Not Like or Aren't Good At

We try to control everything in our lives, and as a result, we do a very crappy job of delegating to our team members. Delegating was very difficult for me.  I didn't want to give up control because I thought I was the best person to be doing all of it. But I wasn't the best person to be doing about 50% of the work I had on my plate.  The moral of this story is to work on the stuff you are good and great at and delegate the rest!

Stuff you know, but you need a swift kick in the ass about:

You know this, but this stuff is causing you lots of stress...

Take some time every day just for youGet some exercise, get outside and run, walk, hike, get some fresh air, read a good book, do something that you enjoy. How much time to you spend on your favorite hobbies.  Spend some time with loved ones, and your pets. 

Physical Health

You are also stressed out because you are not taking care of your body. Is it time to finally focus on your physical health?  

HydrationWater can be very, very healing, take a sauna, bath, swim in a pool, lake, or the ocean. 

Drink more water. Figure out how much water is required to appropriately hydrate your body and drink more of it. Add lemons or limes to your water to alkalize it. 

Most humans are very dehydrated, not just lawyers, but people in general. 

Oxygen: One of the topics I talk about in lots of my videos is oxygenating your body. Just breath! We don't breathe deeply enough, and most of us have a lack of oxygen in the body, and we wonder why we are so tired.  When you get stressed, tension arises, and you are anxious, you breathe shallowly. 

Just breathe! Full, deep, and long breaths are important to your physical and mental health. Start at the base of your lungs, and breathe in as much air as you can, filling the lungs to the top of your chest. Slowly breathe out. When you use my simple meditation (above) and breathe more deeply, proper breathing starts to become more habitual. More oxygen in the body and you'll feel better. So if you're tired, breathe deeply.

Food: Eat more raw foods which contain a ton a water, minerals, and nutrients your body is crying out for. Incorporate more fruit and vegetables in your meals. Do not be afraid of fruit, your brain needs the sugars in the fruit to operate properly.  We wonder why we get brain fog and have trouble remembering basic info.  

We eat too much junk food, and drink sugar laden soda, we fill our bodies with tons of caffeine in the desperate hopes that we can eke out some more energy during the day.  Not to mention all the chemicals we are filling the body up with fast food.  You're kicking the shit out of your liver, heart, adrenals, kidneys, and your brain. We wonder why we are so sick and tired all the time?  Look no further.  

Just breathe! 

You know all of this. I'm reminding you because if your body isn't getting what it needs, water, oxygen and good food, it runs down, and you get sick. Missing work, and feeling like shit only adds to your stress level. Not a good combination, and not good for your career either. 

So, to wrap this article up, lawyer burnout is a result of prolonged exposure to stress, being hyper anxious, and its long term, detrimental impact on the body and mind.

To be blunt, you really need help!  I know this because I was in your shoes for many years.  This article and video are only the beginning on your journey. If you truly want more balance in your life, you need to take the next step, and sign up for my resource page.  

If you would like to take 30 years to figure this out like I did, do it, just do something. But I'm here to help you. That's why I am here, to help! I'm thankful that you finished this article!

A Fresh Start on Life and Your Legal Practice?

What if you could cut your stress down by 50% or more?  What would your life be like?  What would change for you? How would your life open up?

Question for you: What is most important to you in your life right now? You are way to focused on work and dealing with all the stress and anxiety your are doing to yourself.  Is it time to change? Of course it is! Let me show you how to begin the process of looking at stress, depression, and anxiety differently.  Learn from my mistakes, and stop the insanity going on in your life.  

Take the first step and get signed up for my free training:

Stress Less Lawyer Training

Dive in and begin your journey and change your life!

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About the author 

Adam Ouellette, Esquire

Founder of Esquire Academy and Veteran Attorney.

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