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Lonely Lawyer? How to Deal With Isolation

In a scene from the movie 'All Is Lost,' an aging Robert Redford is desperately alone in a life raft in the middle of the ocean as a cargo ship passes him as if he weren't there.

It is a painful metaphor for so many people in the world -- those nameless souls who watch as the world passes them by. They sit on street corners as drivers avoid making eye contact with them; they hide from the rain and cold under cardboard shelters; they labor alone in law offices late at night ...

Alright, so being a lonely lawyer is not as bad as being homeless or lost at sea. But if it is a problem in your life, consider these ideas:

It Could Be Worse

Even prisoners in solitary confinement get let out for breaks. So take off the shackles and go outside.

If it's raining, take a stroll to the water cooler. Drop in on an office mate. Tell someone a joke.

Seriously, lawyers are professional talkers, so it's not that hard to engage a colleague in a conversation.

At least you're not like the judges who feel compelled to leave lawyer friends behind to avoid the appearance of impropriety when ascending to the bench. Or maybe they just want new friends?

No One Is an Island

There is a difference between being alone and feeling alone. Sometimes, like a solo practitioner or an associate slaving in a dark corner, lawyers can't help but be alone.

But they can do something about social isolation, including the mind-numbing, depressing, and too-often addictive kind. Dr. David Henderson, a psychiatrist, suggests:

  • Make time for social engagements
  • Resolve to overcome problems
  • Seek professional help

Just figure a way to make it tax deductible or billable, and you're good to go.

Let's Talk

Joan Rivers, may she rest in fashion heaven, can still bring a smile. She liked to say on her show, "Can we talk?"

So if you can't justify the expense of a therapist, at least talk to someone about the problem. Family member, friend, minister, online acquaintance, talk show hostess ... the point is to talk to somebody.

Even if your listener is not a professional counselor, psycho-therapy has sometimes been called "the talking cure" because patients talk out their problems.

In that other solo epic "Cast Away," Tom Hanks makes it through five years of isolation on a deserted island in part because he talked to a volleyball. Not suggesting you talk to a ball here.

Maybe a dog. They are great listeners. Or a parrot because, well, they might talk back.

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