At 22 the time came due to choose a life’s profession. I struggled hard to think of one in line with mine obsession. I could have been a boxer or a lawyer, yeah, I guess. But no one causes suffering like a licensed DDS.” - “I Found a Hobby” from Little Shop of Horrors (Musical)
Valentine’s day can be a trying time for many people. Those in relationships of various kinds are often having to determine if the overtures they are hearing that “oh, I agree, we don’t need to do anything for Valentine’s Day this year” are genuine or not. Even if you have a well-worn tradition of doing something (or nothing) for Valentine’s Day, all of the red and white decorations and presents shoved in your face at every turn may cause you to want to try to do something unexpected and fun. And of course, for the single people who don’t want to be single, Valentine’s Day may be a painful reminder of that which was left unrequited or lost.
I’ve talked before about being a member of Keith Lee’s LawyerSmack community (“LS”), which is just a unique gem of internet culture that provides space for lawyers to let their hair down and talk amongst each other with a shared understanding and respect that comes from having occupied many of the same professional foxholes as the person you’re speaking with. Certainly, while I’ve only met or spoken with a couple of my fellow community members, I consider many of the LS members to be as close friends as internet acquaintances can reasonably be expected to be.
In conversations and channels within the LS platform, I’ve talked with other lawyers about topics from the rules of professional conduct, to the new Star Wars movies, to sure-thing hangover cures. In those conversations significant others can often become a topic of discussion, and anecdotally within the group it was hard not to see a common pattern arise. While certainly exceptions existed, my perception was that the majority of folks seemed to find themselves with a person with a STEM background. When February came around, I figured Valentine’s Day was the perfect opportunity to test this hypothesis, so I created a poll, and asked LS members to respond with brief information about their romantic situation.
*Dear Numbers Nerds: this was an informal poll that was of a small, self-selected sample of takers, and I am in no way concluding that these figures extrapolate out to the greater population of lawyers, please don’t take this too seriously, it’s all just for fun.*
Now lawyers, as was to be expected, had different interpretations on what answer correctly described their situation, but the sample size was small enough that I was able to more or less ‘correct’ the responses in my analysis so that they more properly reflected the reality.
My first question was a simple demographic question, but I knew that it might be controversial. I asked the respondents to indicate their current relationship status, and I lumped in engaged, married, and divorced people into one segment. At first glance I understand why some people were confused by this, but I wanted to make sure that all of these groups were answering for a partner even if they had not yet undergone, or had moved past, the particularity of marriage. The vast majority of respondents fitted themselved into this category, with small portions of the remaining respondents filling out into “long term relationship” “casually dating” and “single, ready to mingle” respectively. In one piece of good news, nobody announced that they were “married to the job” which I expected at least one smarmy joker to do.
Once the respondents indicated their relationship status, they were then, unfortunately, asked to click through a set of questions designed to ask each different group to identify what field of study/employment their significant other’s experience was in. I knew I would not be able to capture every conceivable job, but I tried to be as broad as possible with the answer choices I gave. Of course, there was an “N/A” option for those to whom each question did not apply.
For those who identified as engaged/married/divorced, there was no majority, but a plurality of partners were tagged as working in healthcare/medicine, with engineering as the runner-up. My own response did not tip the scales, as my partner works in neither of those fields. Engineering came back around later on in the survey, as the majority of those who identified as being in long-term relationships responded that their partners were engineers.
I changed up the question slightly for single folks, and merely asked them to tell me whether or not they’d be willing to date another lawyer. It is worth noting that for every category of lawyers who were in a relationship, at least one lawyer identified that they were with another lawyer, but certainly my own experience and anecdotal observations seemed to indicate that STEM was the safest bet for lawyers lookin’ for love. Singles remained optimistic about their chances, with only one single lawyer indicating that they would not want to date a fellow practitioner of law. One single lawyer who responded to the survey later told me that he would prefer to only date another lawyer, believing that only another lawyer could truly understand the time commitments of the job.
Across various relationship types, the lawyers of LS that responded to my survey revealed that a majority of the lawyers found themselves in relationships with people with a STEM background. This was, perhaps, an unsurprising result, given the fact that my conversations on LS were part of the reason I had this hypothesis to begin with, and that the survey takers all came from LS. So while I draw no conclusions from this survey or its responses, I think I’ll add this experience to the pile of anecdotal evidence that fuels my belief that lawyers tend towards STEM folks for the long-term. Definitely don’t take any of this as a conclusion or advice though.
But just the same, maybe if you single lawyers have your choice of bars for an after-work drink, chose the one closest to a pharmacy.