The Dave Nee Foundation found in their research that law students have a psychological profile similar to the general public’s before they begin their law school education. By the time these students earn their degree, they reported 40 percent of them are experiencing depression or another mental health disorder.

While the legal profession is stressful, lawyers don’t have to be a stress statistic…even during trial.

As a partner at a top Chicago personal injury law firm and wellness consultant and coach to law firms, I see firsthand how empowering lawyers with simple, sustainable lifestyle strategies can make a big difference. Prioritizing self-care is crucial for lawyers to maintain a positive well-being that allows them to excel in the profession. Working in law, I personally relate and understand that lawyers need real-world solutions.

I love to remind lawyers about the oxygen mask rule: always put your mask on first before you help others. You need to help yourself to help others on the job. You deserve it. One of the tough topics I tackle in group sessions with lawyers and in 1-1 sessions is managing stress during trial and trial prep. It is plagued with long hours, managing client expectations, travel, being in unfamiliar locations with limited food options, sleepless nights, and the list goes on and on. This post maps out manageable practices for lawyers to cope with stress during trial.

Here’s how lawyers can manage stress during trial, specific to wellness areas.


Having 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night will decrease stress and help you feel equipped during trial. When you have a lack of quality rest, this can cause hormonal imbalances, leading to a weakened immune system. If your body is rested, your serotonin levels balance, helping you gain focus. In my post, How Lawyers Can Get a Better Night’s Sleep you’ll find more practices to improve your sleep quality. While you understandably may have to pull a few all-nighters, do your best to consistently maintain your sleep schedule and consider if you and your work would be best served by giving your mind a good night’s rest to reset.


Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Remember, some movement is better than none. Your schedule during trial may not leave room for spending a significant amount of time at the gym, but still strive to get in 15-20 minutes of movement a day whether it’s a walk, stretching, or strength training. Moving your body can have a profound impact on your overall physical and mental well-being. I also recommend setting movement alarms throughout your day if you’re sitting at your computer. Do desk exercises, walk around your office, push-ups, jumping jacks, etc. Just move for 2-5 minutes.

Strategic Eating

Nourishing your body is crucial during times of stress. It builds your immune system and gives lawyers on the go the energy they need especially during trial. Knowing how to implement strategic eating habits is key. Start by planning meals in advance. Remember that protein is the VIP. It gives you the energy you need to power through your busy day. Lean meats, eggs, canned fish, string cheese, protein bars, nut butter, and hummus are all simple choices you can easily consume on the go. An adult bento box is also a great way to nosh throughout the day. If you don’t have time to pack your meals, order prepared meals to be delivered to your office to heat up during breaks or after court. You can also create a list of healthy meals from your go-to carryout restaurants to order in a pinch.

Further, make a point to eat throughout the day. Lawyers often get so busy that they forget to eat and then turn to unhealthy processed foods, sugar, and alcohol which will not keep you in fighting shape. I cover more on strategic eating in my blog post, How Lawyers Can Eat Healthier During a Trial.


Meditation and breathwork are practical ways to calm your nervous system, reduce blood pressure, and re-focus your mind. Incorporating mindfulness during the morning, on breaks, or at night will help you rest in the present moment instead of focusing on your stressors.

There are many ways to incorporate breathwork into your routine. Box breathing is a simple way to start with this type of practice. Start by breathing in and counting to four (it is essential to do this slowly). Hold your breath for four seconds after you feel the air enter your lungs. Then, exhale slowly for another four seconds. Repeat these steps as many times as you need to feel re-centered.


Screens are one of the worst offenders regarding stress contribution. It can damage your sleeping patterns and distract you from practices that calm you down. While it may be difficult to avoid them during trial, try to give yourself a screen cutoff time or print out materials so you can avoid them an hour before bed. Also, investing in a pair of blue light glasses to help decrease your blue-light exposure can be helpful during your workday.


There are multiple ways to incorporate journaling as a self-care practice. A brain dump journaling before bed will help you sleep better, leaving the day’s stress on the page instead of in your head. Gratitude journaling is another great method. Try writing down five things you are grateful for at the start and end of each day and see how your mood shifts. You can even make it simple and just think about five things you are grateful for to give yourself a mental boost.

Slow and Steady Wins

Progress is greater than perfection when it comes to matters of self-care. As you can, implement one new lifestyle practice at a time. Prioritizing self-care will make you better at your job and increase your satisfaction levels in all areas of your life in and outside the trial ring.