The professional stressors experienced by attorneys run along many dimensions. To begin, the cerebral, analytical nature of most law practice may serve to, over time, split many attorneys from their underlying emotional life and feelings. The business model of most law firms, based on billable time, ensures that attorneys are going to spend the balance of their waking hours in this analytical mode. At the end of the day, it becomes increasingly difficult for attorneys to “switch off“ their analytical way of relating to most experience. Over time, attorneys become entrenched in dualistic thinking that begins to preclude effective interpersonal relationships with people outside of their professional environment.
As mentioned above, the cerebral nature of law practice may encroach upon important interpersonal relationships outside of law practice. The heavy “problem-solving“ orientation of so many attorneys, together with the baseline stress that most attorneys feel in their every day work lives, often creates a situation in which attorneys have limited bandwidth to relate to others outside of law practice in a more deeply empathic and experientially connected manner. Eventually, this orientation can erode otherwise effective relationships outside of work. Attorneys can grow increasingly frustrated and eventually become less able to connect with others on an emotional level. Eventually, these dynamics may result in increasingly challenging interpersonal relationships.
A career as a practicing attorney can eventually give rise to complicated relationships within one’s family of origin in addition to one’s immediate core family.
Very often, the attorney’s family of origin relates to the attorney in highly positive ways including praise and a high degree of pride. In contrast, one’s immediate intimate partner, while he or she may have initially related to the attorney in very positive ways, may over time become resentful and dissatisfied with the absence of real emotional connection with the attorney. Thus attorneys are often left confused with the discrepancy between how they are often viewed by their parents and society at large versus resentment that may be accumulating in the mind of their most intimate relationships.