When you are let go (forced to resign) from a legal position in a smallish town, the folks you knew at that firm stop calling and emailing. It is nothing personal, it is a fact that no one wants to admit. I am now tainted. Others in the legal world are still talking to me, in fact, a few are helping me to get back on my feet. But those I counted among friends, not close but not just acquaintances, are not going to keep in touch. I thought this was a possibility as I left the building. The one that hurts the most is a partner that had been a kind of mentor did not even contact me after it happened. That is simply cowardice on his part. He has nothing to lose to talk to me. Or maybe there was something I did that led to his cutting ties. Ah well, it was not a close relationship so it is not very painful.
If you have been let go, you understand this. If you have recently been let go, try not to worry about this aspect. It really is not personal. Many of the associates you worked with are afraid. They are afraid of the reason for your departure, afraid that they to may be let go. And they are afraid that if your departure was for personal reasons, if it were known that they were keeping in touch it may lead to partners seeing them as disloyal. Loyalty is important to many attorneys, especially in smaller firms. Unfortunately, loyalty can lead to blind allegiance or loyalty can be interpreted by the higher-ups to mean associates must have a "shut up and take it" attitude.
And finally, associates are simply busy. I was there, I remember. I barely had time to check in with my husband, much less worry about friends. And that is the saddest part of being an attorney. I did not worry about maintaining contact with friends, even though I did try. But I cancelled so many meet-ups and spent so much time away that I am now having to reestablish my network. Old friends that have been with me for decades are the easiest to repair. Newer ones take more time and nurturing. Now consider if this had been decades instead of 2 years. Think about what an attorney sees when she or he retires later and looks around. Will friends be there, will that spouse, that child remember you? I understand better today than I did a year ago about work-life balance. Work-life balance, sounds so cliched and hackneyed. It's not really work-life balance, in law there is never really a balance. But attorneys need to remember to maintain some semblance of a life outside of the law. Because it is almost impossible to create one after dedicating decades to the law. Friends are harder to make after age 30. Friendships, relationships die without attention, not a violent death, but one of simple neglect coming over a long period of time of little real attention and love.
Ug, I sound like a weird hippie guru. But all of the above is true. Unfortunately, the ones that will suffer most are women. I am not a typical female. I was a tomboy, a nerd, a women's rights advocate in the 80's and consistently having more "male" tendencies than female. Exhibit A, movies. My husband would be content watching independent films and heading to all the film festivals around the country. Me? If something doesn't blow up in the first 15 minutes, I'm bored. We compromise, one of mine for one of his. Even so, and even though I am not as social as many I know, I also understand that I need companionship outside of my spouse. My husband, not so much. He has me and 2 friends, one of which he sees every 3-4 years and it is always like they have never been apart. Me, I realized that I need friends during my first year as an associate. I needed people around me that loved me for who I am, people I didn't feel in any kind of competition with for projects, accolades, etc. (admit it, you are in competition every day with the other associates, for the more interesting projects and for good attention).
Anyway, the point of this is that over the next couple of weeks, I am spending as much time as possible repairing any of my damaged friendships, as well as neglected family members. I will not break one engagement, except for illness (really, who wants a friend to show up sick? but then I might be a bit of a germaphobe). I will listen more than I speak. I will ask, I will remember and I will try my best to be the kind of friend that person needs. Oooo, sounds a little stalkerish :0
Will post more often, now that I have a few things cleared up. Maybe I will even regale you with tales of renovations by a novice (we have a ton of stuff in the basement that could make this house much less 1960's and that's 1960's in not a good way).
Have a lovely day and call a friend.
CSA Week 2: Beet It
15 hours ago