Professional Effects of Stress

  • Decreased vocational satisfaction;
  • "Treadmill" / "marking time" / "Burn out"
  • Inability to meet professional obligations (timeliness, work quality)
  • Missed deadlines

Personal Effects of Stress

  • Increased risk for impairment (mental/emotional health problems and/or substance abuse/dependence)
  • Increased risk for stress-related physical illness
  • Strain on family/relationship(s)
  • Inability to function at level necessary to meet personal/professional obligations

Effects of Lawyer Impairment on the Legal Profession

  • Decreased public confidence in the bench and bar
  • Delays;  Malpractice;  Ethical/Bar disciplinary issues
  • Inappropriate results;  Untimely results 
  • Wasted judicial resources and time;  Docket backlog
  • Overall frustration with "the system"

Many Lawyers practicing today are facing the need to:

  • do more
  • faster
  • with less
  • sometimes for less.

Lawyers cite many factors contributing to stress, like longer hours at work, fewer hours with the family, pressures to make partner, even the low esteem in which lawyers are held.

- NY Times March 10, 1995


Common somatic (physical) symptoms often reported by those experiencing excess stress include sleep disturbances, muscle tension, headache, gastrointestinal disturbances, and fatigue. Emotional and behavioral symptoms that can accompany excess stress include nervousness, anxiety, changes in eating habits including overeating, loss of enthusiasm or energy, and mood changes.          

Effects of stress ...

  ... On your body

  ... On your thoughts

     ... On your

  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Pounding heart
  • High blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle aches
  • Back pain
  • Clenched jaws
  • Tooth grinding
  • Stomach upset
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Sex problems
  • Skin breakouts
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Worrying
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Mood swings
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Feeling insecure
  • Confusion
  • Burnout
  • Forgetfulness
  • Resentment
  • Guilt
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Seeing only the negatives
  • Overeating
  • Undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug abuse
  • Excessive drinking
  • Increased smoking
  • Social withdrawal
  • Crying spells
  • Relationship conflicts
  • Decreased productivity
  • Blaming others


  Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms

Cognitive Symptoms

Emotional Symptoms

  • Memory problems
  • Inabiliy to concentrate 
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness


Physical Symptoms

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds 
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)


When attempting to assess signs and symptoms, it is important to note that marked changes in behavior or affect are the clearest indication that there may be a problem.  Such changes may or may not fit clearly into the categories above, but are noteworthy nonetheless.

When the "smaller" issues are not addressed, they may become larger.  They can easily and quickly work their way into impairment.

If/when you have concerns about yourself or someone you know, and want to know more, please contact the LJA Program.  Remember:
LJA Program Services Are:

Available at NO Charge

Please contact our office or an LJA Program volunteer in your area.  Here is a list of LJA Program volunteers across the state.

Dr. Jessica Cole, LPC-S, NCC
Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program Director
Office: 601-948-0989  
Director's Direct Line: 601-948-4475
Email: [email protected]

Carolyn Barrett, Office Administrator & Monitoring Coordinator
Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program
Telephone: 601-948-0989
Email: [email protected]