Isolation can be a common woe among attorneys, and we should really do something about it. Indulge me in a little frolic and detour before I circle back to this preachy statement.
Many of my own moments of isolation occurred before social media and smartphones and working remotely were integral to our existence. So daily life forced me into live human interaction, and I benefited from it most of the time. But now it’s much easier to avoid connection. Research suggests, however, that these patterns are causing staggering levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness among teens. It’s not too much of a leap to suggest isolation is affecting us as well.
This point was driven home to me as I worked with focus groups of attorneys during the past few months. We had assembled the groups for our research but unexpectedly found that participants genuinely enjoyed the experience of connecting with each other. The energy in the room grew—even 1.5 hours in—as they shared their practice experiences. They lingered after the group wrapped up to exchange thoughts on everything from procedural issues to commuting apps. And they emphasized how valuable it was for them to take time out of their busy day to engage with people who had previously been strangers.
Our focus group lawyers were undoubtedly pleased that their participation expanded their network. It seemed to me, though, that the larger benefit to them was solidarity with other professionals. Billable hours, demanding clients, second-shift parenting, running your own business, and the golden age of television leave little time for peer connections. But fitting in one more thing may be worth easing that feeling of isolation that comes with being a lawyer and an adult in the digital age.