Ah, that lawyer lifestyle.
You know what we mean—regularly heading to the office on Sundays, managing near-constant stress, and sometimes getting to work before the sun rises and leaving after it sets.
While there’s a lot to love about being a lawyer, the toll it takes on our social lives isn’t on the list. Lawyers are notoriously difficult to make plans with, in great part because of all the time constraints that come along with the job. That’s especially true when it comes to trying to make plans with other lawyer friends.
But as for exactly why we’re so challenging? It’s complicated. Here’s the truth behind why it’s so difficult to pin us down—as well as what efforts we can make to try to flake out on our friends less.
There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. And sometimes for lawyers, there aren’t enough days in the weekend to catch up on everything we needed to finish during the week, either. Therefore, it can be a challenge to get lawyer friends to commit to anything, anytime. We simply can’t guarantee we won’t have work that needed to be completed, well, yesterday.
We Go MIA
On top of our unpredictable schedules, sometimes we just get so buried under work that our friends feel like we’ve literally gone missing in action. In reality, of course, we’re probably pulling yet another 90-hour work week. But when you put your work first, sometimes everything (and everyone) else takes a backseat. It can be exceptionally difficult to make plans with someone you can’t even get to respond to a text message.
Sometimes, Friday rolls around and we can’t muster the energy to do anything aside from putting on sweats, ordering takeout, and watching TV. And that’s the case whether or not we’ve promised some friends we’d meet them for late-night happy hour at a neighborhood bar. When you’re as stressed and overworked as many of us are, sometimes it’s just hard to commit to plans and actually show up.
On a more serious note, rates of depression are high in the law community. In some lawyers, depression can lead to isolation, meaning that we can become uninterested in spending time with others, even if it’d be the best thing for us. Depression usually comes with other associated symptoms, so it’s worth it to learn the signs in order to get help if it’s necessary.
How Can We Do Better?
No matter how much you try to make and keep plans, it’s a fact of your lawyer lifestyle that you’re going to have to cancel sometimes. That said, here are three things you can do to put yourself in the best position to avoid flaking out on your friends:
- Put plans on the calendar: Add any plans with friends to your iPhone, Outlook, or Google calendar (or whatever your calendar of choice is) and do your best to schedule work responsibilities around them. Encourage your colleagues to use your digital calendar as a guide for scheduling time with you, as well.
- Don’t solely rely on weekends: Think about ways to fit plans into your schedule beyond just Saturdays or Sundays. After all, you’re probably playing catch-up at work on weekends anyway. If you know you’ll be able to run out for a cup of coffee on a Thursday afternoon, invite a friend to come along. Or if you anticipate some free time on a Tuesday evening, see if any of your friends might also be available for a quick drink or a dinner hangout.
- Sign up for something: Whether you sign up for an exercise class, an art class, a book club, or something you enjoy, you’re much more likely to attend an event you commit to ahead of time and possibly have to pay for. Invite your friends to come along with you—that way, you’ll all be less likely to cancel at the last minute.