Every lawyer should have a pet. It should probably be a rule.
Lawyers are very likely to suffer from burnout. While there’s a ton of advice out there about how to avoid it, taking one simple step will help protect you. Get a pet—a cat or a dog (or maybe both) or some other furry, warm critter. This is a real measure that can help you keep work from taking over your life.
You may be thinking,
Yeah, Andy, I grew up with furry critters at home, they are great, but I’m living the fast life of an attorney now. I work almost all the time, and when I’m not working, I’m
partyingnetworking to advance my career. Or I’m traveling. I’ve got no time for a pet; I can’t be tied down like that, blah blah blah.
Yep, still here, boss. Why would I leave?
Never having a compelling reason to leave the office makes it much more likely you’ll stay there. I’ve never worked in BigLaw; maybe it’s a blast, but does anyone really want to be at the office for 14 hours straight? If you have an adorable photo of your dog on your desk, and you talk about your dog often, it will seem completely normal that you leave at a reasonable hour to go home and take the dog for a walk.
Take your laptop with you, and work at home if you need to. If you really must, you can come back to the office later. Maybe you can bring the dog. Nothing, not cupcakes, not even beer, cheers up an office as much as a dog. When I was a judicial clerk, a court reporter sometimes brought her tiny Chihuahua to chambers in a stylish dog carrier/handbag. It was a hoot.
I work at home two days per week. Part of the reason I like it so much is that I get to hang out with my cats. I think it helps productivity. Just seeing them asleep in the sun puts me into a better state of mind to work than, say, looking for a men’s room that isn’t full to capacity. If you work long hours at the office, coming home and scratching your pet’s ears will lower your blood pressure and re-set your mind. This will make you a better lawyer. And dogs will get you outside, which is great for mind and body. Again, making you a better lawyer.
If you worry that your need for office time would stress you out worrying about your dog, consider getting a cat or two. Or three, if you already dig cats. Cats do okay at home without you, especially in small groups, while you slave away at work. If you haven’t had a chance to live with a cat, this brilliant photo essay will give you a good idea how charming they can be. (If you love cats, you may want to click on that link when you get home—whenever that is—because you might start crying right there at the office. And nobody likes to see a lawyer cry. Except maybe a judge.)
Home is where the heart is. That’s something you’ll really feel if you have a furry friend eagerly waiting for you to get there.