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When it comes to love and relationships, we lawyers are a sorry and unhealthy lot. The situation is quite ironic when you sit down and think about it. A society is the sum of all the personal relationships in a given community. And society’s two goals in creating a legal system to govern those relationships are justice and stability. But drop a lawyer into any personal relationship and you guarantee the erosion of both. The only thing love and justice have in common is blindness. Justice, like alchemy, demands equivalent exchange � no contract without consideration, no damage without remedy, no crime without punishment. A successful relationship, in contrast, demands that each person give much more than they ever hope to get in return. As my wife, Bunny, would tell you, she gives plenty and the only thing she takes is more of my crap then she deserves. For example, at a recent gathering a friend asked us how our 8-month old has been sleeping. I responded, proud and oblivious, that she sleeps at least twelve hours or more, from 8pm until 8 am. Bunny pursed her lips, closed her eyes, and shook her head from side-to-side (she’s an expert at mixing both disapproval and disappointment into the same expression). “Actually,” said Bunny, “she wakes up at least three times a night, but I’ve been letting you get your sleep.” Meanwhile, I had been feeling proud of myself for giving Bunny a nice half-hour break each Sunday morning by taking the baby with me on my ritual walks to Starbucks. That type of disparity in effort can quickly turn a loving relationship into dismal solitude. The effort you put into your relationship is like the money you put into your bank account. The more you add the more interest you get. You can make withdrawals too, but like a bank account, a good relationship will bear a negative balance for only a short while. Stability, the other pillar of a well-ordered society, requires a constancy that few lawyers, particularly litigators, can muster. I once asked Bunny whether she was angry that I come home at random hours and never at the time that I say I will. She replied, “Oh, it’s not random at all. You were only an associate for about six months before I came up with a way that I can always tell what time you will be coming home.” “How can that be? Half the time I don’t even know. Sometimes I’m home by six and sometimes it’s after midnight,” I responded. “Exactly,” she nodded. “To the extent I care, I can call you at 5:30 and ask when you’re coming home. Whatever time you say, I just add an hour and a half. You never make it any earlier than that. And, in the rare event that you do show up early, I just sneak Taye Diggs out the back door.” A lawyer’s schedule is subject to the whims and wherewithals of judges and juries, clients and colleagues. But an irregular schedule doesn’t mean you can’t have a good relationship, it just means that you have to be more creative with the time you get and treat that time with as much reverence as the Sabbath. Irregular deposits in the relationship bank are still deposits nonetheless � they will tend to keep you in the black if they are at least as weighty as they are infrequent. If all else fails, remind your spouse that not every relationship thrives on a diet that is steady. With apologies to the College Board, let us review the following analogy: ����� Stability : Boredom ����� Spontaneity : Excitement But that still means you have to treat the time you find to spend together as the highest priority in your life and put the BlackBerry completely out of your mind. So, what’s the best way to make love if you’re a lawyer? Whenever the opportunity arises, pretend you’re unemployed. Ellisen Turner is an associate at the Los Angeles office of Irell & Manella LLP where his practice includes intellectual property litigation and patent prosecution. You may reach him at [email protected].

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