So looking back on my posts, one might reasonably conclude that I don’t like lawyers. Not so! Some of my dearest, closest friends are lawyers. Most of them are practicing law, even. Just not in BigLaw. Were they in BigLaw, or even MediumLaw, I daresay they wouldn’t have time to be a friend.
Back in law’s Iron Age of the early 1990s, one of the associates a couple years older than me commented that to be her friend, one had to accept that she would vanish from their lives for weeks on end, when a case really got going. She was completely sincere.
The only thing I can tell has changed between now and then is that 15 years later, associates are even more stretched, expected to bill a ridiculous number of hours and be constantly available, even on vacation. This is not what I would call a recipe for cultivating new friends, let along keeping the ones you have.
So here’s a thought: Schedule two calls a week to friends. Put an appointment in your Treo, Blackberry, or iPhone, with a really annoying repeat alarm. Do not turn off the alarm until you’ve dialed the friend’s number. (And please call when you might reasonably get hold of said friend. DON’T call their house during work hours, got it?) Do not let guilt or shame keep you from doing this. You’re very clever, and I know you can manufacture a really strong case why you can’t make time for this, one that includes excuses like:
- My friend is so busy, I would only be stealing her/his valuable time;
- My friend is probably angry with me that I haven’t kept in touch, and he/she is right, I’ve been terrible and I don’t want to face that; or
- If I don’t get this research done/letter drafted/discovery drafted/contract drafted/documents reviewed before tomorrow, I’m toast, so I really can’t keep that appointment.
Instead, use your mental energies to manufacture reasons why you simply must keep this appointment. Treat it like an appointment with a specialist that you had to wait four months to get. You don’t want to wait another four months, do you? You could die by then — and so could your friendship. And how the hell is your soul going to survive without friends to help nurture it?
Remember your Aristotle:
“Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.”
He makes a good point, that Aristotle. I’ll even forgive the sexism.