A Young, Hungry & Committed article goes viral, and along with the public interest came some harsh criticism about the dissolution of NYC virtual office lawyer Vivian Sobers’ marriage. This week, Vivian takes a moment to process it all.
Two weeks ago I opened up about how my marriage had recently ended, and how my solo law practice contributed to its demise.
For some reason the greater legal community took a particular interest in the messy details of my personal life. I wouldn’t exactly say the article “went viral” in a celebrity photo hacking scandal sense, but it did see a lot of traffic on legal social media sites.
I’m not sure what I expected in terms of public reaction when I wrote the article. The feedback was certainly mixed.
As expected, most of the comments on ATL were consistent with the usual brand of salacious snark that you’d expect from their readers. The keyboard critics (to borrow from Ms. Achimalbe’s story) took their swings at me, and then turned against each other. It made for good comedy.
But some of the comments that I received from my solo attorney peers on Law Firm Suites’ Community Counsel Blog were more judgmental than I had anticipated. At one point, it made me question whether I had done the right thing by exposing such a personal detail.
I wasn’t seeking a pity party when I wrote the article. Nor was my intention to spin this very personal failure to make myself appear to be “a virtuous professional” as some have suggested.
Frankly, that’s giving me too much credit, and there are far less embarrassing ways to accomplish that.
I wrote about this subject because I have a forum to vent about it. I also wrote about it because I write about everything that I am experiencing as a young solo attorney.
There was no hidden agenda here, other than the fact that other attorneys relate to my story and that this blog series has been helpful with respect to building referral relationships.
I found it frustrating that no matter how I chose to communicate it, the basic message I wanted to convey just didn’t seem to get across. I choose to work the hours I do because I want to and it makes me happy.
Unfortunately, this point hit the wrong chords with some attorneys. My best guess is that sometimes people have a hard time understanding that being completely happy with your work is anything but pure honesty.
Many commenters seemed intent on helping me achieve a work-life balance. The offers were generous, and appreciated, but not what I’m looking for right now.
It made me wonder to what extent that some of the commenters’ own personal experience with the law does not give them the context to fully understand my point of view.
So does the gap in understanding perhaps arise from other people projecting their own cynicism on me? Their own issues with the practice? Their own wants and needs for their personal lives?
Remember, my career in the law has taken a very non-traditional path. I have never worked for someone else as an attorney. No partner has ever dropped a file on my desk at 5:30 P.M. on a Friday expecting a brief completed by Monday morning. I’m still at a point in my career where my work is exciting to me.
I can tell you that if I really wanted things to be different in terms of work-life balance, I would choose that. Right now, that’s not what I want. I love my work, and I’m not unhappy about the hours that I put in.
When I feel differently about it, then it will be time for me to scale back.
Of course, that choice (among other things) didn’t make my husband happy, and I have to live with the consequences of that decision.
As I mentioned in my article, there are a millions reasons why marriages end, and that’s no different for mine. Did my law practice contribute to the demise of my union? Yes. Would my marriage have lasted if I worked fewer hours? I’m not so sure.
In all, this was an experience that I was grateful for. The article got a lot of people talking to each other about the issue of a solo practice’s effect on personal relationships. That’s social media at its finest.
For that, I am grateful. Even for the haters.
Work-Life Balance may not be what Vivian is looking for, but maybe you are!
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Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.