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The importance of non-lawyer friends

adpI love my lawyer friends, don’t get me wrong, but we are an exhausting group of people.

When we go out socially, we inevitably end up talking about lawyer stuff – cases, war stories, legal world gossip. We simply cannot help ourselves. We are constantly thinking about our cases, directly or indirectly, which is great for our clients, not so much for our brains.

One friend and I who worked on a case together had a particularly difficult time with this. Our offices are next to each other and we spent 70 hours a week together. We instituted a rule that if we were going out socially we could not talk about the case. Work dinners had to be specifically stated. The person who spoke about the case first suffered a penalty of some sort chosen by the other person. (This led to some interesting dinners out.)

Lawyers are trained to analyze, over analyze, and see a situation from all sides. Getting a simple “yes” or “no” from a lawyer is almost impossible. We spend our work days surrounded by other lawyers. It continues to feed the pattern. So when we go out socially, it is hard to let the lawyer brain go.

Enter non-lawyer friends. It took me a while to make them. When I graduated law school and started clerking, all of my friends were lawyers, with few exceptions. It was not until I started working at J.Crew and going to the local gym, basically getting out of the bubble, that I made non-lawyer friends.

All of them have totally different backgrounds and jobs are all at different stages of life and family and each one brings a unique perspective, kind of like a jury. They can look at a situation and apply life experience, emotion and preference in a way that I cannot. Their non-lawyer experiences make them invaluable sources of advice and counsel.

We need a break from the constant contact with lawyer brains and to see situations from other points of view.

Please do not ditch your lawyer friends, however; you need those too. Just add some non-lawyer friends!