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Ruth Carter on assholery
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NOTHING BUT THE RUTH!

Taking a Break From Lawyer Life

What do you do to get away from the pressure of being a lawyer?

By Ruth Carter

The other day, I saw my neighbor talking with two police officers in the parking lot of our complex. (It turned out the police were called to check on a potentially abandoned car.) When I walked up to see what was going on, one of the first things my neighbor said was, “They’re a lawyer.”

It seems like even when my being a lawyer isn’t relevant, someone often brings it up, and when they do, the way people look at me changes. Sometimes, I want a break from the perceptions and expectations that come with being a lawyer. I want to go where no one knows or cares that I’m a lawyer. It’s like the anti “Cheers.”

Here are two places I go when I need a break from lawyer life:

  • Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary. Less than an hour from my home is a farm animal sanctuary, a place where animals are loved and adored from the moment they arrive. There are horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens and other animals. They are never used for food. Many of them arrive with health issues or special needs. I don’t get out there as much as I’d like. It’s a joy and a privilege to arrive there at sunrise to spend a few hours helping with chores like shoveling manure. It is dirty, sweaty work. I assure you the baby cow doesn’t care if I’m a lawyer. The baby cow cares if I have his bottle.
  • Ropes course. There’s nothing like spending a few hours in a harness, clipped in 60 feet above the ground. At the ropes course, I’m completely in the moment. I don’t think about anything that’s going on back at the office; instead, my “job” is to climb trees, navigate obstacles and sail along zip lines.

How Other Lawyers Get Away From Lawyer Life

I sent two questions out to fellow attorneys to learn about what they do to get away — mentally or physically — from lawyer life, and here are some of their responses.

What do you do to get away and do things where no one knows, or no one cares, that you are a lawyer?

  • “Fish. A lot. In silence.” – Anonymous
  • “We go to shows/concerts— many times in LA where it’s unlikely we’ll run into anyone we know.” – Anonymous
  • “I’m a single mom. From 5 p.m. until bedtime, three people in my life don’t care I am a lawyer (LOL).” Lisa Patterson, LL Patterson LLC

How do these things help you in your professional life and/or as a person?

  • “There’s just something special about being outside, working up a sweat, and not having a care in the world about how you look or what a client, opposing counsel, judge or jury is thinking about you, your client, or case.” Mitch Jackson aka “The Streaming Lawyer”
  • “Socializing with non-lawyers makes me feel more connected with my ‘human’ side — I think being a lawyer makes me feel less human and more robotic. Learning about new things makes me feel good, and reminds me that I actually have interests besides work.” – Mike Ortiz, Ortiz Law
  • “I need a break from being ‘on’ once in a while. I need to just be me without having to worry about the pressures of owning a business and being an attorney.” – Nicole Siqueiros-Stoutner, Shelton & Stoutner

Peaceful

In examining my experiences and reading everyone’s responses, whether their “getaway” activity involves golfing, traveling, taking ballet class, hunting Pokémon or waking the dog, it seems like we all do things that we find peaceful. There is an aspect that allows us to turn off the lawyer side of our lives and just be an “average Joe” person.

What about you? What do you do to get away from the pressures and expectations of lawyer life?

Photo © Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary. Image @ iStock.com.

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Ruth B. Carter Ruth Carter

Ruth Carter — lawyer, writer and professional speaker — is Of Counsel with Venjuris, focusing on intellectual property, business, internet and flash mob law. Named an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, Ruth is the author of “The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers,” as well as “Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.” Ruth blogs at UndeniableRuth.com and tweets @rbcarter.

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