What To Do When Your Cases Are Emotionally Draining

By Joleena Louis - April 25, 2018
What To Do When Your Cases Are Emotionally Draining

In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, solo divorce lawyer Joleena Louis shares her top tips for avoiding the emotional drain that comes with her practice area.

Being a divorce attorney means my work is often exciting, but also very emotionally draining. I am constantly dealing with high conflict situations between highly emotional people and it often takes a toll on my mental well being.

It takes a bit of extra effort to make sure I don’t burn out and leave family law forever. Here are some of the things I do to combat the emotional drain.

Create Boundaries

Boundaries play a huge role in my life and help me maintain harmony between my work life and personal life. Some of my boundaries include:

  • Don’t get too emotional about cases. My job is to remain clear and level-headed for my client. Getting too emotional may impair my ability to do so.
  • Have a hard cut off time for my end of the day. My workday typically ends by 5:30 pm. When work is over I don’t take calls, check emails, or spend time on any work-related tasks.
  • Managing clients expectations. Family law clients can be very needy and I find it easier to let them know exactly what to expect each step of the way and when/how they can expect to hear from me. This cuts back on a lot of the panicked calls and urgent emails.

Only Accept Cases You’re Passionate About

The nature of the type of cases I handle require me to really believe in my client and what they are seeking. It’s really not worth it to me to put in the time, energy, and effort into a case when I don’t truly want my client to succeed.

I know many family lawyers who are willing to take any case if the client is willing to pay, but I need more than money to motivate me. I routinely turn away clients who I feel are only out for revenge or who are seeking an outcome that may not be in their clients best interest.

Focusing on cases I believe in helps me feel good about what I do, and this is especially helpful when the case is emotionally draining.


One of the best ways I’ve found to combat the emotionally draining nature of my practice area is to take time to recharge as often as possible. For me, this means avoiding working on weekends whenever possible and scheduling time away as often as I can. It is imperative that I have at least one full work free day a week to recharge my mind.

I have also found that taking time to meditate before starting my day keeps me centered and focused. Since starting this practice, I’ve found it easier to let things go and not sweat the small stuff.

Having an action plan makes it easier to handle emotionally draining cases. Burnout is a serious issue for attorneys and being proactive about preventing it can help you continue to love your work.

About Joleena Louis

Joleena Louis is a matrimonial and family law attorney at Joleena Louis Law, a firm she founded after leaving a boutique matrimonial firm in Brooklyn. Joleena is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Financial District location. Her weekly blog series Things I Wish I Knew... explores her thought process and experiences in her transition from small law firm employee to successful solo practice entrepreneur. Follow Joleena on Twitter.

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