Lawyers get a bad rap. They are often referred to as aggressive, feisty, demanding and domineering — traits that don’t always add up to a positive dating experience for the non-lawyer in the relationship. However, with a keener understanding of what makes lawyers tick, patient and understanding partners can turn even argumentative brutes into dinner party-appropriate companions capable of holding conversations about things other than “stare decisis,” “res ipsa loquitur” and “caveat emptor.” (Did we mention nothing lights a lawyer’s fire quite like a little Latin?).
The following tips will help keep the spark alive between two partners who may not always see eye to eye but remain dedicated to the ancient concept of “amor sempiternus,” or eternal love. See, Latin can be sexy!
5. Learn the art of concession
Conceding in an argument, particularly within a personal relationship, is difficult for most lawyers. Most will over-analyze and nitpick their opponent’s position with far greater enthusiasm than a normal person, so it can take stamina to stay in the argument game.
This is not to say that the non-lawyer should always give in or give up — you never know what sort of bragging rights might lie right around the corner — but choose your battles wisely. On the off chance you are wrong, your lawyer lover will likely never let it go.
4. In front of the TV, let them be
Legal television shows generally fall into one of two categories: brilliantly addictive portrayals of an actual day in the life, or, more often, absurd misrepresentations of courtroom proceedings. (We still love you though, “Law and Order: SVU”).
If you prefer the latter, your partner will likely couch-object when the TV prosecutor starts dramatically testifying to the camera while “cross-examining” the cowering domestic abuser, and that is OK. Think of it as a reminder of your partner’s true passion for the practice of law. And remember to DVR the episode to watch later in peace.
3. Shield them from advice-seeking aunties
From a lawyer’s perspective, few things are as obnoxious as spending 90 minutes on Thanksgiving Day discussing Aunt Melanie’s dispute with the homeowners association over the height of her fence and the width of her hot tub, especially if the lawyer specializes in corporate mergers and acquisitions.
As you prepare your family to meet your new boardroom beau, gently remind them that holiday gatherings are meant to be a relaxing time for everybody, and asking for free legal advice from the lawyer in the room is about as appropriate as asking the family accountant to prepare tax returns over dessert. There are other options.
2. Show a little interest in the law
This goes without saying, but in any relationship, showing a little interest in your partner’s work can go a long way. In law school, budding lawyers are told that they don’t truly know the material until they can explain it clearly to their grandmother. Engaging in some thorough discussions with your lawyer partner about his or her day can not only help improve your bond, but could even sharpen your partner’s ability to explain the intricate, non-privileged — yes, that applies to you too — details of a recent settlement, conviction or corporate transaction.
1. Remind them to take a break
Most lawyers are driven, over-achieving perfectionists with no concept of downtime, let alone vacation. As the main influence in your partner’s life, be sure to encourage regular time for relaxation and rejuvenation, whether it’s a 10-day excursion to Bora Bora or a simple date night.
Studies have shown again and again the importance of taking a break; past a certain number of billable hours, work is no longer productive. Remind your partner that without adequate rest, he or she could become too burnt out to continue; and without a job, he or she will be forced to watch “Law and Order” reruns all day long. They really are on all … day … long.