Can lawyers love one another? ATL Courtship Connection is our attempt to matchmake legal types. Initially, I had some successes. But if you’re a regular reader of this column, you know that the last few have been the worst kind of first dates: not great, not disastrous, just kind of “eh.”
This column’s tale is similar. I set up two gay Biglaw attorneys who both named Justice Breyer as their favorite Supreme Court justice. Alas, a shared appreciation for SGB’s pragmatism did not lead to any liberal love.
Feeling discouraged, I sought out a professional. I reached out to Lisa Clampitt, a high-end matchmaker at VIP Life who started her Cupid career under the tutelage of Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger, and founded the Matchmaking Institute here in New York. She manages the social calendars of 30 high-earning lawyers, doctors, financial analysts and entrepreneurs at any given time. She offered some insight on matchmaking those with JDs.
I asked her if her lawyer clients differ from her other high-earning bachelors:
Lawyers tend to have a strong analytic/cerebral element, which is helpful at the office but not necessarily in the dating world. Lawyers can bring skepticism and caution to a date that can sometimes be a little off-putting at first glance.
When setting up a lawyer, it is actually helpful to pick matches that have complementary characteristics that help to create balance. A more artistic and creative energy can be a great match for a more rational/analytical personality type.
Uh oh. Is Courtship Connection doomed?
Maybe not. Clampitt tells me she has had some lawyer-on-lawyer matches work:
I have a few lawyer/lawyer success stories . . . they understand each other and share common interests.
The intellectual connection can be a common thread. Lawyer to lawyer matches seem to work best if each person has a more flexible style and is less combative or argumentative. I have seen matches that are way too intense and those strong debating skills can lose their charm in the romantic arena.
So I guess I shouldn’t pair litigators.
The People’s Therapist once told me lawyers are trained to be risk-adverse and distrustful, which he said can bleed over from their professional to their personal lives. That would seem to be a disadvantage when starting up a romantic relationship. I asked Clampitt what she thought of this:
Lawyers may be more skeptical in the beginning stages of a relationship but once you gain their trust it becomes less of an issue.
When they meet that person who is compatible with them, who understands them and who creates balance and harmony in their life, they will trust in the person and in the process. A match must admire and respect the wonderful mind of a lawyer and that type of critical thinking that lawyers are famous for. If this trait is not appreciated then one is missing the joy of this type of personality.
To date a lawyer, you must appreciate that their minds get much more exercise than their bodies.
I asked Clampitt about the best qualities in a mate for a lawyer:
A great partner for a lawyer would have a strong intellectual component and enjoy healthy conversational banter. But ideally they would also be a bit more laid back – and able to create balance by injecting the relationship with spontaneity, creativity and whimsy.
So maybe I should match burned-out lawyers with the hard chargers?
Is Courtship Connection just a bad idea? Am I doomed to failure? Will no little legal eaglets be named after me after a successful pairing?
Compatibility is about so much more that simple occupation. Although we have outlined the typical lawyer personality as “skeptical, rational and overly cautious” there are certainly many exceptions.
The joy of personalized matchmaking such as at VIP Life, we get the pleasure to know our clients in depth. We understand their family history, their past relationships, their dreams and goals in life, what makes each client unique and ultimately what they are looking for in a mate. I am a licensed master of social work, which has greatly shaped my approach to look at all out clients as individuals with different tastes and styles.
And then of course there is that final indefinable element – chemistry.
Chemistry was one of the things missing from a recent Courtship date. I set up these two male attorneys, who both graduated from top law schools and work for top firms, based on a mutual love of Stephen Breyer. This attorney said he would be a doctor if he weren’t a lawyer, so I’m guessing he likes prestige. I thought he would like a date at a university club:
I had fun. We met at 8:00 PM at the Cornell Club. He was a member, so we grabbed dinner and drinks in the dining room. We had a good conversation, mostly typical lawyer kibitzing (law school, firms, cases, etc.). I probably talked too much, but he seemed OK with it. There really wasn’t much dating chemistry, but it was a good meal and a good chat. He picked up the check, which was really nice of him.
This is the shortest write-up yet. His date, who would have chosen teaching or politics if he hadn’t gone into corporate law, likes to pontificate more:
He arrived reasonably promptly, though I somewhat expected that he would have been arriving straight from work, dressed in work clothes. Even though a jacket isn’t necessary, and certainly guests of the hotel were wearing jeans, the bar and grill at the Cornell Club during happy hour on a Thursday evening is more of a business casual scene. So with him dressed down, in jeans/bar attire – and me still in work clothes – well, that was a little unexpected.
But I also didn’t expect to be paired with a first year. Correction, a deferred first year. He’s three months into his practice. I’m approaching seven complete years. In prison terms, he’s jailbait. I’m the senior associate who, if at work, would have no patience for his inexperience and probably be expected to yell at him. (I don’t yell, for the record…but I have been known to be impatient with arrogant little brats who aren’t dedicated or try hard enough at work…) In any event, I had a hard time shaking the sense that he should be my “charge”, and under my supervision, than my “date”….
He is clearly a brainy guy, but when I leave the office, I’m rarely in the mood for intellectual conversation unless I’m on my second glass of wine and we’re playing footsy. Hearing him talk about his interest in antitrust law just wasn’t cutting it. When I learned that he’s a South Park fan, we finally had something more to talk about — and both agreed that Cartman’s “Poker Face” was one of the best TV moments of 2009. (Admittedly, after hours, I enjoy lowbrow reality TV…he enjoys Millionaire Matchmaker because Patti helps guys learn how to make meaningful, romantic connections….and I’m more of a Real World/Road Rules Challenge guy…the guys are buff, the girls are slutty, and they’re all drunk, fighting or hooking up most of the time…).
This couple forgot to take a photo, instead sending this video as the take-away from the date:
No sparks from South Park though:
I think I led most of the date with questions (or, in dance speak, he let me lead, and then followed). When I get going, I have been told I’m like an interrogator (even though I’m not a litigator). So I’d ask questions, he’d respond. Basic questions would become springboards for lengthy responses, whether about his academic interests or political aspirations. He’d mimic and return volley with most of my questions, in total quid-pro-quo fashion, but for me, interrogatories about where you went to school, what you studied, what’s your practice, etc., illicit only short factual answers and, for some reason, I wasn’t in the mood to share more. I prefer guys who make bold comments, and then defend themselves. That’s what starts lengthy conversation – and gets me hot under the collar. I think you learn more that way…
We opted to eat, because unfortunately the bar at the Cornell Club doesn’t have an adequate drink list. (Truthfully, I was hoping that he’d say that we should pick another spot. But he didn’t take me up on it when I gave him the option…I spent seven years in Ithaca, so I’ve spent plenty of time already at the Cornell Club!) And he ordered salad, even though it was steak night….so I didn’t go big like I might have otherwise wanted to.
On the whole, I thought he was a nice guy, but we weren’t a fit. I sort of knew that would be the case from the outset. The identifying characteristic he gave Kash was that he was bearded. For me, bearded guys are like cigarette smokers: I won’t kiss either of them unless they give it up (the beard or the cigarettes….get your minds out of the gutter!).
….I mean, just imagine how scratchy it must feel on your face….let alone other places. ;-P
Moving forward, I will remember that beards are bad when it comes to gay matches.
Earlier: ATL Courtship Connections