When you’re spending long days at the firm surrounded by other lawyers and buried in briefs, you might start to think that a career in law is the only job that even exists anymore.
Thanks to long hours and all-consuming workloads, you might end up hanging out with your coworkers more than anybody else. While it can be healthy and productive to have friends in the workplace, it can also stunt your personal growth if you surround yourself only with people who have the exact same job as you or even work in the same office. There are good reasons why you should have a few friends on deck who aren’t lawyers.
Take Your Mind off Work
In any high-stress job, you might find yourself thinking about work long after you leave the office or even bringing work home with you; this is certainly true for lawyers, who face long hours and crazy caseloads on a nearly constant basis. If all your friends are lawyers, it could mean that you end up thinking about work even more than normal, which definitely isn’t beneficial to your mental health—taking a break from a high-pressure job isn’t just healthy, but necessary. A friend who’s a preschool teacher could make you laugh by telling you about the antics that her class got up to this week, or a friend who works as a bartender could share a terrible customer story, but in any case, that’s a little bit of time that you don’t have to think about your own work.
Get out of Your Lawyer Bubble
If you want to be a well-rounded friend and a generally enjoyable person to be around, surrounding yourself with at least some people who are different from you is the way to go. It’s good to learn about what other people do and not live in a bubble where you think everybody’s job involves pushy clients or fourteen-hour days. Being friends with someone who has a totally different career path forces you to think beyond your own experiences and not fall into the trap of thinking of your own lifestyle as the norm, when it’s just one version of what life can be. Some of the worst stereotypes about lawyers might just come from the cluelessness that results from surrounding oneself with people who have the same educational level and are making the same high salary.
Being surrounded by clones of yourself is never a good thing if you strive to be a multifaceted, interesting person. Some lawyers who are becoming disillusioned by the legal life complain that it saps all creativity from them. Having friends who are creative types can inspire you to explore your own creativity in your down time, or even strive to find little ways to be creative at work.
A Different Perspective
Even though a friend who’s a doctor, a graphic designer, or an accountant might not seem like they’ll be able to “get” your issues as someone who works at a law firm, you may have more things in common than seem apparent at first glance. Your non-lawyer friends may be able to empathize with certain aspects of your job quite easily, whether it comes to dealing with clients or surviving demanding higher-ups. If you have a friend in the service industry, they’ll understand what it’s like to work long, grueling hours, and a friend who’s a freelancer will have her own stories about dealing with needy clients who demand too much attention. In listening to each other’s experiences, you can even potentially give advice on tricky situations, each bringing a new perspective to the table.