Are you lonely?

31 Mar 24

Many lawyers are. In fact, ours is the loneliest of professions.

Here's an explanation for why.

Personality may play a part. Lawyers are overwhelmingly introverts. Introverts often require more solitude for “recharging.” Add that to a heavy workload that values independence and perfection and there may be little time to build meaningful relationships. Also, lawyers rarely know how to practice self-care. Those serving at-risk and traumatized populations often don’t know how to deal with the emotions they hear of and often take on themselves. This vicarious trauma can lead some,  motivated by a concern about burdening others, to keep their struggles to themselves, thereby creating even more distance between them and their sources of support.

Employers have the specter of their lawyers not only in precarious health but also dispensing legal advice while in a debilitated state. Liability on a number of fronts raises its ugly head, as well as the costs and difficulty of replacing burnt-out workers.

So what can be done?

Reconnecting with family and friends can help lonely lawyers. Employers and supervisors should take the time to regularly check in with their charges. Although calling isn’t enough,  says Maninder Kahlon, a professor at the University of Texas’ Dell Medical School, who in a recent study examined loneliness and  the effect of phone calls. “Don’t talk. Ask questions; let them talk. People feel good and connected when what they have to offer is seen as valuable and interesting.”

Meditation has been shown to be incredibly helpful to reduce stress and to work more effectively. Meditating even for short sessions teaches the mind to be attentive to the present and not dwell on the past or project into the future and can be done anywhere, at any time. University of California, Los Angeles, researchers found that an eight-week meditation program reduced loneliness in older adults and also altered the genes and protein markers of inflammation.

Therapy of all sorts can help lawyers identify their feelings and strategize about how to improve them.