Just having got back from my trip to Italy, I was cogitating on what I had learned that might be important for my clients. I came up with the concept of community. We often talk about the “legal community” to which all of us who are lawyers belong. How we use that and respect it gives us all in the way of tremendous value and a means of not doing this job alone.
I visited many little towns in Como and Tuscany and saw community at its best. Here the kids all congregate after school in a local park. The older children play with the younger ones and the adults sit on a bench and don’t interfere. In the late afternoon you see groups of 4-5 adults all sitting and talking. Women and men are separated but you see the same people day after day just sitting and talking. They stare at all the strangers as they go by and you are not sure you would be welcome in their groups if you tried (especially if you didn’t speak Italian). But they are demonstrating a resourceful community.
Now there is quite a bit of time for people in Italy to do this because lunch is between 1-2pm and dinner not until 8:00pm! so the whole afternoon and early evening is free for chatting. Not so in the larger cities. They are busy at work from late morning to late at night. The evening meal after 8:00pm seems to be the time to get together with family. They are missing out on the community of the smaller villages, just like us.
Park Moms and stay at home Dads are often seen in the US at parks with their children, talking and forming their own community. Other gatherings such as Church also offers a time for community contact. But these gatherings frequently take a backward priority when it comes to WORK.
If we as lawyers have a complaint that our life is lonely, especially solo attorneys, then what can we do it increase community in our lives?
If you can see the logic here, then let’s aggressively focus on ways to include more community in our journey.
- Attend more Bar Association Meetings. Get involved in committees where you have a group of people that support each other for a cause.
- Talk to your family about community and its importance.
- Consider pro bono work which offers contact with other people. Choose carefully.
- Find a support group where you can discuss your work. Family Law Circles are famous for meeting once a month and floating ideas and cases by each other.
- Select activities which will provide ongoing Community activities. This could be a sports group or a book club or all the other occasions just waiting to be used by the community. How about organizing a “block party” or starting a lawyer’s Book Club?
These are just some of the ideas I came up with after sensing the need attorneys have for more contentment and less stress in their lives. Give me other thoughts.