Familiar, but Foreign

I work at a law school so you’d think I’d be comfortable around lawyers. In fact, in the work place, I’m quite comfortable around them since I’ve work for them, with them and around them on a daily basis for nearly 5 years. But lately I’ve noticed that I don’t enjoy dealing with lawyers on a professional level outside of work.

In the past few weeks I’ve dealt with a few lawyers regarding the sale of some property and then this week I’ve also dealt with a different set of lawyers on some wills and trusts I’m working on (don’t worry people – I’m fine). But I do notice that outside the academic setting, lawyers are less fun.

At least at the office I’ve been able to develop a relationship with them. I know about their families and political affiliations. I’ll hear them chatting with each other in the hallways. Some even come to me to show off there latest purchases…just like “real” people do.*

But dealing with lawyers outside the academic environment is different. Perhaps it’s because you never really need a lawyer in the real world unless you’re under unpleasant or stressful circumstances (selling property, divorce, death). Since that’s the case, I wonder why law schools don’t require courses in psychology to better prepare lawyers for dealing with stressed, scared or angry clients.

I mean, as I blogged about a week or so ago, when we sold our condo, the buyers attorney was a complete idiot. Even with months of preparation, he still was ill-prepared for our closing. He just made an already stressful situation all the more stressful. And this morning as I was dealing with the will/trust paperwork, the attorney was friendly – but it was so matter-of-fact/business-as-usual for him that it felt strange. I mean, we’re talking about the preparations for a person’s death here and the whole signing process was merely 5 minutes. I felt like I had so many questions to ask, but there really were none. It’s just that when you talk about such significant life and death matters, you feel the need for time and closure. Five minutes just doesn’t seem to be enough.


*Of course, there’s always the exception to the rule and for me that would be working across the hall from Alan Dershowitz. As a co-worker, he’s a perfectly nice/normal guy, but his fame (or notoriety) has caused a few crazy people to stalk him every year. I’ve had to call the police a few times to “escort” (arrest) some visitors and the school has also had to install a panic button under my desk (that goes directly to the police department). But otherwise, the office environment is like any other.


  1. Comment by jeff on February 15, 2005 12:14 pm

    You think you pay a lawyer enough to at least be pleasant to you…

    Don’t they have a way of keeping the stalkers out of the building in the first place?

  2. Comment by David in Chicago on February 15, 2005 1:36 pm

    You just need to find a good gay lawyer. My lawyer is a lot of fun.

  3. Comment by chrispy on February 15, 2005 5:09 pm

    lawyers. *YAWN*.

  4. Comment by Erica on February 19, 2005 3:26 am

    I guess that’s why they have Alan Stone, then. Apart from his just being a cool guy. For the psychology thing. More places ought to. Though of course there’s only one Alan to go ’round. But anyway.

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