Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Loneliness of the Long Distance Lawyer

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | April 6, 2018

No. 1,462

Are you surprised that, as reported in the ABA Journal, lawyers lead all categories of workers in feeling lonely?

Image: coachingforleaders.com

Yes, most of us experience long periods in front of computer screens, drafting pleadings, briefs and the like.  But in a law firm there should be many other opportunities for collegiality. Yet the feelings continue. It appears that depression may not be cured by social contact alone.  You can truly feel lonely at a party.  Interaction, even with trusted colleagues, can seem superficial, especially if all you talk about is work. Stopping at the bar after a hard day can help, but only temporarily. No wonder lawyers have a high rate of alcoholism, too.

Lawyers have a high divorce rate.  Coming home to an empty house can be pretty bad.  The silence brings it all back.  Too much time to think, too many reminders, lots of regret.

Even in functioning marriages, there can be distance between partners.  Wives of lawyers may not be even slightly interested in his work, especially if it is perceived to be a grind.  I have observed that non-lawyer husbands often offer even less emotional support to their lawyer wives.  They are busy in their own world and not observant enough to pitch in when home-work conflicts are weighing her down.

On top of all that, a large number of lawyers are unhappy in their work but feel trapped.  None of us really understood what we signed up for when we entered law school and for some, it has turned out to be a bad experience.  But now, loaded with school debt and unsure about whether another career path is possible, they just slog on.

After all of this, I hope you aren’t feeling too depressed.  I am fortunate to enjoy my work immensely.  But I can still have compassion for friends who don’t.  For the most part, they usually won’t tell you that their job is dragging them down.  But if you listen, you can hear it.  And even if you get a surge of dopamine from dealing with daily stress, you can recognize the common dilemma that weighs on all of us. We are, after all, in the business of solving other people’s problems.


After being in Hell for a few months, Joe noticed a guy who always laughed and had a big smile on his face.  Eventually, he thought, maybe this guy has a secret that he can share with me, so I can smile again, too.

“Why are you always smiling?” Joe asked the man.

“Good question,” he replied. ” I used to be an associate at a large law firm.”




CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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