Don’t Be an Island

By Rachael M. Sedlacek posted 01-08-2018 13:39


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.  




01-16-2018 12:28

Thanks for your thoughts, Christine and Jacqulene.  Well said!

01-11-2018 10:58

I wasn't there, but as a solo, I've thought many times that we could use more support from our own community. No one else gets this, and, unfortunately, only other lawyers who practice in your own area really get it. It would be nice to have opportunities to not just network but to really talk about our day.

01-11-2018 09:04

Hi Rachael! I was one of those focus group participants and I wholeheartedly second what you're saying here. It was so nice to just sit and chat with people who wanted nothing from me other than to spend some time breaking bread and sharing our experiences. I don't often interact with other professionals, and when I do, it's usually my bosses, other lawyers in the community who I'm networking with or working with, or friends from law school who I'm texting or facebook messaging with and not actually seeing face-to-face.  Commiserating and celebrating with others, sharing insights and learning from each other is SO valuable! I look forward to getting to know more and more lawyers as I practice longer, so that I have familiar faces to look for at ICLE seminars or names I can recognize on listservs. It's so easy to feel like we're alone in this, that no one has ever done it before, but that couldn't be further from the truth, and it's nice to be reminded of that.