By Lisa Caplan

Being alone and being lonely are two very different things.  One can be very happy and content being alone and spending time with oneself. This can be very relaxing and a time to recharge and decompress. On the other hand being lonely is feeling very unsettled and having a void and incompleteness. Being lonely can happen when you are by yourself or in a room full of people

So let’s talk about lawyer loneliness which according to the Washington Post, Lawyers outranked other professionals on a “loneliness scale” in a survey of more than 1,600 workers. According to an article in the the Harvard Business Review, “Holders of professional degrees in law and medicine were the loneliest—25 percent lonelier than people with bachelor’s degrees, and 20 percent lonelier than those with PhDs.”

If you are a solo practitioner you can feel very lonely with the long work hours and social isolation.  Here are some tips to combat loneliness:

  1. Rent office space in a larger firm or with other solos.  Some of my clients recommend renting a space in a suite. My clients have shared with me that they are more productive when they have other people around to talk to and socialize with.  It has also helped them feel supported and a sense of camaraderie.
  2. Join a Solo listserv. Solo listservs can help you feel connected.
  3. Plan ahead to build social time into your life.
  4. Are you procrastinating?  I talk with many lawyers about their struggle with procrastinating and due to this they work longer hours than needed.  Find an organizational method that works for you. Structuring your day helps you to be more productive with the time you have during the day. This will allow you more free time.
  5. Set boundaries with your clients.  Have a written protocol that shares with your clients when you return calls, emails etc.  If you answer your phone at 10pm they will keep calling at 10pm. Lawyers I have worked with who have a written protocol for their clients find this very helpful in educating  their clients on when they are available. This helps lower your client’s anxiety, therefore lowering your anxiety, and helps cut down on the after hour calls and expectation that you are available all the time. This will allow you to enjoy spending time with family and friends.
  6. Put social time on your calendar.  We are more accountable if we have something on our calendar.
  7. Join activities or volunteer to be around others who like to do what you like to do.
  8. Join an MSBA Section in a area you are interested in to meet other lawyers.
  9. Diversify your social group. Have friends who aren’t lawyers.  No matter what career you are in when we get together with others in our field we talk shop.
  10. Call the Lawyer Assistance Program. Everyone is different and has different challenges. We can help you figure out what works best for you.

For assistance, please contact the Lawyer Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling. We have a network of counselors throughout Maryland. Jim Quinn, Lawyer Assistance Director, (443) 703-3041, jim@msba.org; Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, Associate Director, (443) 703-3042, lisa@msba.org. 24/7 Toll Free 1(888) 388-5459.

 

Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C has over 20 years experience in her field, and extensive experience working with lawyers and judges in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and trauma.