"Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit hereditaments."

Terryl Rushing

Article by Terryl Rushing Featured Author


This article began as idle chatter at a CABA Newsletter Committee meeting, where I expressed my horror at discovering that there were lawyer dating sites. I couldn't imagine that lawyers would set out to exclusively date other lawyers — kind of like Dr. Lecter limiting himself to cannibals. With fava beans and a nice Chianti, of course. But to my greater horror, most everyone else on the Committee thought those sites were a great idea — of course, most of them are married and out of harm's way. The discussion turned, as most of those discussions do, to whether a Newsletter article could be squeezed out of that subject. Predictably, I was persuaded (browbeaten, actually), since I am not married, to research those sites, preferably by joining one. Hey, I'm willing to take one for the team, but come on guys …

I put the task off for several weeks, but ultimately discovered that the sites are a bit shady: while they are advertised as lawyer dating sites, they are actually vehicles for singles to find professionals of any ilk, and I guess a lawyer would do in a pinch. Relieved that no further action was necessary, I put the specter of attorney hook-ups behind me. Then my son, Ira, who has just begun to practice law, got married last weekend. His wife, Stevie, graduates from law school this week. Did I mention that they're both lawyers? And they're married to each other. Ick.

Marrying a lawyer was never part of my life plan (which is a damn good thing, since no attorney has ever asked me out). My pre-pubescent romantic fantasies involved medieval princes, hero warriors, Paul McCartney, and the cutest guy in whatever movie I had most recently seen. It was never a guy with a briefcase, a pair of Allen Edmonds, and a Volvo. Or a guy with a backpack, Chakos, and a Prius. Of course I know lots of male lawyers and consider many of them friends, but purely on a platonic level. The idea of dating one seems, I don't know, vaguely incestuous.

Census data suggests that most other female lawyers think otherwise, as they tend to marry other lawyers. To a lesser extent, female lawyers marry actors. (I knew my twelve-year-old imagination was on the right track!) Male lawyers, on the other hand, are much more practical. While they often marry another lawyer, they are as likely to marry an administrative assistant, thereby fully staffing the office. I am gobsmacked.

Being married to a lawyer must be hell; do you really want to spend your life with someone who overthinks everything? "I don't know, honey, do you think driving the blue coupe rather than the red sedan makes you more or less likely to get a speeding ticket? Maybe we should research this." Who wants to negotiate everything? "In return for passing the salt, I would like the remainder of the Chardonnay." Who checks his cellphone for emails every ninety seconds? Who has to plan a "spontaneous" weekend getaway nine months in advance? Who uses the word "disingenuous?"

If you marry an attorney, you can forget the concept of brevity in oral or written communications. One of our most annoying habits is making any informational exchange ten times longer than it needs to be because we qualify every term. With two lawyers, it would be interminable. I can imagine the following text exchange:

Honey — Timothy, our middle son, wants to consume a glass, which appears to hold approximately eight ounces, more or less, of the dairy product that you purchased roughly five to seven days ago at the grocery store located on the frontage road of I-55 North, just past exit 100. In reviewing his (Timothy's) request, I have become aware, by reading the dairy product's container, that the date May 5, 2017, is stamped thereon. I am unaware of whether that date is the "sell by date," i.e., the date by which the product should have been purchased, or the "use by date," i.e. the date by which the product may be safely (or without gastric upset) consumed (taken internally). Can you advise, at your earliest opportunity, as to whether Timothy should consume said dairy product? I look forward to your reply. Sincerely, Warner.

Darling — You have asked me to make a recommendation as to the consumption of a dairy product by Timothy, our middle son. The pertinent facts, as I understand them, are these: the dairy product was purchased approximately five to seven days ago; the container is stamped with the date of May 5, 2017; and you cannot determine whether said date is the date by which the dairy product should have been sold or by which it should have been consumed. If I am mistaken regarding any of these facts, I would appreciate your correcting my error(s). As I am unable to make a visual inspection of said dairy product, I cannot give an opinion, to any reasonable degree of scientific or maternal certainty, as to whether the product should be consumed at this time. I am able to recommend, however, that you remove the cap from the container of the dairy product and review it from an olfactory perspective. If the product smells like a cross between cottage cheese and cat puke, while not offering any personal guaranty of its being too old to consume, I would recommend that the dairy product be discarded, by pouring it, in its entirety, into the waste drainage system of our home.

PS – Please remind Timothy that his Science Fair Project is due this Friday, and substantial completion will not be acceptable performance. If the project is not in its final form before the school day begins on Friday, please admonish Timothy that his cellphone is subject to parental seizure for a period of not less than thirty 30) days. Best regards. Elle.

Of course, not all lawyers are the same, and the idea that lawyers are fungible romantic partners is ludicrous. You're as unlikely to see a transactional lawyer making a scene at the airline counter as a litigator flyspecking a bar bill. Want someone who is compassionate and understanding about your children's failings and miscreant behavior? Marry a criminal defense lawyer. Need someone who will cross-examine the kids about the dent in the car? Marry a prosecutor. Looking for someone who will make a grandiose gesture for every special occasion? Marry a plaintiff's lawyer. And if you're looking for someone who knows how much time it takes to do anything, marry a corporate defense lawyer.

Judicial law clerks are, of course, a unique category. What would it be like to be married to one of us? Well, we'll never sign a note to Johnny's teacher, but we'll be happy to draft one for your signature. We will never, ever have anything public to say about politics. Ever. (We'll vote, but we don't like to talk about it.) We'll enter rooms just ahead of you and announce your arrival, and we'll bounce out of chairs the moment that you stand up.

All of this sounds like a great deal, no? I imagine that, at least, an attorney would enter into marriage with another attorney with a realistic idea of what life will be like. We know that, if you take out the money, the glamor, the sex, and the drama, practicing law is just like on TV. We understand emergency hearings, waiting hours for a jury verdict, the deal that has to be put together before the end of the year, and the controlling precedent you just discovered that means you have to tear up your brief and start over. As an added benefit, if I feign interest in qui tam proceedings, you'll pretend to be fascinated by the disability grid.

The divorce rate for lawyers is around 25% — roughly the same as for doctors, or greater than doctors, or less than doctors, depending on the article. That rate, surprisingly, is lower than the norm. The reasons why may be easily explained. For one thing, people married to lawyers may not see each other enough for familiarity to breed contempt. Another explanation comes from the premise that one of the occupations that most attracts psychopaths is the law. I suspect that they find a more expedient way of ending a relationship than a messy divorce. I have not found specific data relative to lawyer couples, but, again, they probably don't bump into each other enough to cause annoyance.

Having given this subject some thought, at least as much as it took to write this article, I think I have moved to being neutral-to-mildly-in-favor of lawyer marriages, at least for Ira and Stevie. This will be fun to watch. Any lawyer who wants to change my opinions over a drink (you're buying) is welcome to call. Finally, just so you know that some scholarly research went into this article, I can report that the U.S. Census site has a page for International Be Kind to Lawyers Day. Isn't it wonderful that the federal government shows such good will toward the legal profession? Unfortunately, near the bottom of the page is a listing of Lawyer Joke Web Sites. <sigh>