Dating as a lawyer? OLS's recent post made me think, I don't even know what that means. I know almost no lawyers who are "dating," and I am certainly not one of them. In law school it seemed like virtually everyone was married or in a committed relationship. Well, now the numbers are even more daunting because all those committed relationships turned into marriages shortly before or after the bar exam. Of the lawyers I know who are "dating", most of them are very seriously dating someone they met prior to entering practice. And then there are the single female lawyers who share a sort of despair that suddenly all they have is their career and the half hearted wondering if they can convince themselves that a career is all they need. And the single male lawyers who seem to think that they don't need any social skills because they can just announce they are lawyers and women should drop to their knees.
Obviously there is a huge conflict between the hours required of a young associate and creating any real opportunity to meet and date new people. I work at a firm that is relatively undemanding hours-wise compared to bigger firms. But I still rarely leave before 6:30-7:00 other than when I have an actual commitment to be somewhere else. And I almost always work one afternoon on the weekend, just to keep up and feel like my cases are somewhat under control. So if I already had a significant other, my schedule wouldn't be too bad. We could almost always have dinner together and go out on the weekends. He would have to be understanding that sometimes things come up and I have to work a little later than expected or spend all day on Saturday in the office, but those really would be the exceptions. And that is the situation for every single other attorney in my office.
But when is there time to meet new people? To an extent, this is a function of being out of school. I know it was hard for me when I graduated from college and realized that there was no longer an automatic social network 24 hours a day. But I was out of school four years before I started law school, and I adjusted and accepted the challenges of meeting people in the real world. And I didn't exactly embrace the law school social scene, so I never really went back to the school social group mentality.
You always read about how one of the most common places to meet romantic partners is at work. Not at my work. I think a law firm poses unique dangers if you choose to date someone you work with, although I know many people do it. I would probably do it too if I was at a bigger firm. But I'm somewhere small enough that it would be disastrous to my reputation, plus everyone is married or in committed relationships anyway. The hierarchy in a law firm, even a small one like mine, makes it so that any dating within the firm means something. A partner and an associate? Bad idea. An attorney and a paralegal? Even worse. Pretty much the only pairing that seems reasonably safe is two attorneys of the same level, preferably partners, so that there is less competition. So, get back to me in several years and I'll let you know if there are any single, interesting partners I can consider dating. Or maybe not. So with work ruled out, what's left? I have made efforts to meet people elsewhere, but they all seem to be failures.
I go to bar association functions. I end up annoyed at the pretentious people shaking hands with people they don't like and having superficial conversations about their jobs. Many of these people might be nice and interesting and have real dating potential, but surrounded by fifty other lawyers they make me want to gag. I'm probably one of them, I know.
I go to church. Guess what? If there was ever a place where everyone is married or in serious relationships, it's at church. No surprise there. Good thing I'm not going to church with the intent to meet a guy, but it would be nice if there was that possibility. At least the lead singer is hot.
My rowing classes are very fun so far, but are full of old people or girls. Like church, at least the coach is hot. And I suppose if I get better and start rowing for real after the classes end, maybe I'll meet guys. I have found that guys think it's really cool I'm taking rowing classes, so that's something. Between that, my fantasy baseball teams, and my hockey line, I've totally got the girl who is into sports thing down. But that brings me back to the question of where to meet the guys to talk to about sports in the first place.
Without the potential to meet guys at work, and working too much to just hang out places guys might be, I feel pressure (internal, probably) to either give up or settle.
I think I've dated enough guys who were nowhere near good enough for me that I am past the settling phase. So, unless I give up, that means finding someone with real potential.
Who do I even want to date? I think there is unique pressure on a female lawyer to date and marry the right kind of man. What does that mean? I don't know. I've never been one to care especially about job titles or income, but I certainly recognize that if I went to the firm holiday party with a date and said, "This is John, he's a " and it wasn't something professional, at least some people would judge me and think I could do better or was settling. The three things that ostensibly matter in this setting are job title, income, and education. Of those, it is only education that I was ever hung up on, and I think I've let that go. I have met very smart people who never went to college, have associate's degrees, or did not excel in school. So, intelligence is definitely still a prerequisite, but I don't especially care about the labels that a person may or may not have to validate it. And assuming I date someone intelligent, I have confidence that no matter what judgmental peers might think initially, they will come to see it too, and even if they don't, at least I will be sufficiently stimulated and challenged by him.
In some ways, I would love to date a lawyer. I think this is a love/hate thing among lawyers. For me, I love to be in a relationship with constant banter. I am not an arguer at all (let alone outright fighter), but I truly enjoy having an ongoing verbal contest. I like to prove I'm right. But that is only fun if the other person enjoys doing so too, and understands it is not really about being right, but about the playfulness of the battle. And it is best if every so often the other person even has a shot at winning. And that is something that is innate in many lawyers, and why I think I would potentially like to date a lawyer. For other attorneys I know, that is precisely the reason they don't want to date a lawyer.
There are definitely more opportunities to meet other lawyers than any other group of men, but they do not necessarily lend themselves to romance. ("No, my client isn't interested in settlement. Would you like to get a drink sometime?") Even assuming they did, there are a lot more necessary qualities besides enjoying verbal sparring. For one, I want to come first in a man's life. As in, before everything else. And that can be a real challenge with a man who has a demanding job. I think a lot of women can work really hard and strongly desire to excel professionally, but still put a man first, but men who work really hard often seem to value their careers over everything else. Similarly, a lot of men think if their jobs are demanding, they can't have outside interests, except maybe football. I don't especially care what interests they have (except preferably not hunting or Nascar), but I want someone who is multifaceted and can carry on a conversation about a wide range of topics.
And of course there are those impossible to find qualities like nice, considerate, reliable, trustworthy, loving, romantic, and interested in a committed relationship. And funny. But how often do you come across those?
So screw dating as a lawyer. I'm just going to focus on the law.