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On being married to a lawyer

In my first blog post, I mentioned that I met a “pretty cool girl” immediately after our first-semester finals at Maryland Law who later became my wife, now of nearly eight years. We were but one of many law school couples in our class who later became law school spouses and who are now producing law school offspring.

It is certainly understandable for law schools to produce many married couples. As my grandmother so delicately put it to me, I was entering my “prime marrying years” when I started law school. Not to mention that law students spend hours together in a high-pressure academic environment, with the tension most commonly broken during alcohol-infused social events.

I’m proud to say that I married up. My wife was Order of the Coif. I was not. She had an appellate clerkship. I had a trial court clerkship. I’m glad she was willing to slum it with me.

We were on the same career path for many years. We clerked during the same year in the same courthouse. We began at private litigation practices on the very same day. We accompanied each other to countless Bar association events where we could be the other’s safety net if we didn’t particularly feel like networking or mingling.

Then, our paths diverged. My wife became pregnant with our daughter. She went back to work a few months after our daughter was born but soon realized that the private sector was no longer where she wanted to practice. She left me behind in the private sector and is now a government attorney. I don’t have my safety net at Bar association events any longer.

Marriage to a lawyer has its challenges. I can cause my wife’s eyes to glaze over when I assume that she, like my friends among the Bar, is interested in the minutia of my cases and the tactical decisions that I have to make. On the other hand, I try very hard (and fail many times) not to give my unsolicited opinion as to tactical decisions she should consider in her cases. Also, two lawyers arguing with each other over the exact facts and circumstances of a conversation earlier in the day relating to who was going to fold the laundry can turn into a dual cross-examination.

But, of course, marriage to a lawyer has its upsides. We share in the frustration of dealing with opposing attorneys. We understand the time constraints and inherent unpredictability of hearings and of the legal profession. We can rely on each other, when it comes time to make important career decisions, to have an understanding of the business of law and the practice of law and reach the best decision for us individually and as a family. Having met in law school and making it a practice from the very beginning to totally divorce (bad choice of word) legal study from our relationship, we are pretty good about leaving our work at the office.

Most importantly, our daughter learns that, as lawyers, we both help people. Daddy “helps people who are having fights.” Mommy “helps teachers who help children.” In the eyes of a nearly 5-year-old, Mommy wins that battle without fail.

I post this because I met many two-attorney marital units at the MSBA Conference in June and I am always interested in hearing whether their experience is similar to or different from ours. To any readers who also find themselves married to a lawyer, please share in the comments or share with me what your experiences have been.

And, yes, my wife approves of this post.