Barely Legal Column: Lawyers Dating Lawyers - Brilliant Idea, or Disaster Waiting to Happen?
by Becky Bye
Never date a lawyer.
Or lawyer-to-be. I reminded myself of this self-imposed rule each time one of my turbulent law school relationships dramatically ended. Unfortunately, a case of temporary amnesia always took over when I found myself interested and intrigued with someone else. Thus, my law school romances were a tumultuous rollercoaster of lust or love and complete chaos.
In law school, peer dating is practically inevitable due to the proximity of many educated and available adults with at least one significant interest in common: law school. Intra-law school dating is usually a bad idea. From competitiveness with grades and feeling distracted by your significant other while studying, to grappling with both parties’ inherent argumentative ways (a characteristic of many aspiring lawyers) and jealousy when seeing them talk to the opposite sex in the hallways, many reasons exist to dissuade law students from dating other law students. And I learned the hard way.
By the time I started practicing law, I felt wiser than my sophomoric law-school self. From the beginning, I avoided dating other lawyers entirely. Although the Colorado legal community spans across the entire state, I knew that, geography aside, the legal community was a small, intertwined group in which I did not want to get romantically involved.
In the meantime, I filled my single days meeting many non-lawyer potentials. From other professionals, like engineers, firefighters and physicians, to less conventional types, such as musicians, I met them all. And all of the quirks and dramatic episodes I previously experienced in law school still managed to find their way into my lawyer-less romantic life.
For example, there was the narcissistic engineer, who, on our first (and only) dinner date, declared that I should feel very lucky because few women existed who were good enough to date him due to his great looks, education and status as an engineer. (Upon hearing this and realizing he was serious, I wanted to puke, but the fancy Italian food was too delicious.) Then there were the IT technician and the fundraising professional, who both failed to tell me about their fiancés. And last but not least, there were numerous lawyer-bashing men that tried to capture my heart while bad-mouthing other lawyers and my chosen profession. After a short while, I grew disgruntled with dating and the notion of finding a lifelong partner. I made peace with the concept that I was destined to be single forever, that every decent non-lawyer was taken, and that I could not date a lawyer due to the inherent pitfalls.
Enter my fiancé, a fellow lawyer and Colorado Bar Association Young Lawyer Division council member whose term on the council started with mine. He was sweet and good-natured and shared many of my professional and leisurely interests. While it was lust at first sight for both of us, I was reluctant to embark on a relationship with another lawyer, let alone a lawyer serving on the same, time-intensive board as me. My fears soon subsided as our relationship developed swimmingly. I soon found that I needed many of the traits that he and other lawyers share. Like myself, he was reliable, and enjoyed discussions on a variety of topics. From interesting areas of the law to current events, I always found we could have fun and stimulating conversations. We were also both busy, professionally and with our volunteer commitments, and therefore, we understood each other’s time obligations and remained flexible. Often, many of our professional engagements were mutual, and luckily, we spent even more time with each other while attending these events.
As I have acknowledged and you have likely presumed, there are some pitfalls with dating another lawyer. Both of us will admit that we are stubborn, and always think we are right. Even if we are not right, we will try to use an intelligent string of logic to try to convince the other why the other one is wrong. Sometimes, our respective schedules are so busy that we rarely have a chance to see each other during our free time, as our free time rarely overlaps. We are insanely competitive while playing Scrabble with each other, never admitting defeat, only admitting "technical" reasons for a lesser final score. And worst of all, due to our respective careers as lawyers, it is difficult to avoid discussing the practice of law during our free time.
When we first started dating, many more-seasoned attorneys warned me that dating a lawyer was a bad idea. I did not ask those individuals whether this advice derived from conjecture or their own bad experiences; I presume a mixture of both. Happily, I tested the waters for myself — with great results.
So, is dating another lawyer a good idea? All I can say is that it’s best to date the individual, and not the profession. It might be that a lawyer, due to the inevitable downsides, isn’t necessarily the right fit for you. However, based on my experiences, and the high percentage of happily married lawyer couples I see regularly, there is a good chance of finding "the one" who is also a lawyer. For better or worse, the professional identity of attorney often becomes larger than their personal identity. Thus, I will just leave you with one thought. What better way is there to immerse oneself in the practice of law than choosing a lawyer to complete your other half?
E-mail Becky Bye at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any topic ideas for future articles.