Online Dating for Lawyers: A Primer

October 10, 2008 by  

I get it, people—we’re Big Firm Associates—it’s not easy to find dates, no less get laid on a steady, or any, basis.  Of the cool professions guaranteed to elicit flirting at a bar, “lawyer” is right up there with mortician and actuary in terms of its panty-melting effect. (Believe me, I’ve had to find out the hard way. Just ask this guy.) So, as much as it pains me to admit it, if you’re anything like me and you want to go on an actual date anytime in the next millennium, you’re probably going to need to enlist the help of the world wide internet. Sorry. And my immediate mission is to help you do it without looking like a total loser when your senior associate—nay, every associate you’ve ever met—sees your online profile.  And then sends it to everyone you know. In other words, I want to spare you the humiliation I went through a couple of weeks ago.

I know what you’re thinking: Come on, how’s my senior associate gonna see my profile? Good question; I had it, too.  And now I have another question: Do you not understand that there are people at your firm who LIVE for outing this kind of information about you?  People who spend their entire lunch breaks, dinner breaks, and doc review downtimes trolling dating websites for people they know from work? In the same way that any email you send from your firm account might as well start with “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury…,” your online profile might as well start with “My fellow associates…” So, if you want to mitigate the shitstorm of ridicule that rained down on yours truly and is bound to rain down on you when—yes, WHEN—you get outed (and maybe even get yourself a date), grab and pen and consider the following:

1.  The Photo.  This, obviously, is a threshold item and a potential dealbreaker.  So, keep that in mind when you’re standing in your bathroom about to crane your arm forward as far as it’ll go and snap a pic of yourself with the crappy camera on your firm-issued Blackberry.  The goal is to look cool and normal and attractive, not like a fluorescent lit latter-day Ted Kaczynski.  And please, lord, don’t even think of using one of those professionally posed glamour shots.  Are you auditioning for High School Musical 9: The Law Firm Years?  Just take a simple, flattering picture. One that looks like you, but maybe 5% hotter.  And it goes without saying—but I’ll say it anyway—if you’re thinking of using your law firm headshot—the one that appears on your elevator I.D. and firm website—stop reading this article, shut off your computer, find a sharp pencil, and stab yourself in the face.  Seriously, go.

2.  Username/Headline. Simple: If you have a username focused around the words “JD,” “law,” “esquire,” or “atty,” or worse, any play on “juris” and “doctor” (i.e. “Dr. Juris” or “The (Juris) Doctor is in!”), you might as well write it on the nameplate outside your office door, because you’ve murdered your chance of being remembered at the firm as anything but—not to mention your chance of being touched by another human being this side of 2046.  Because guess who finds lawyers sexy and funny and cool?  No one. Not even other lawyers. And spare me the “But what about George Clooney in Michael Clayton or Dylan McDermott in The Practice—they’re sexy and they’re lawyers” bit.  Um, but they’re not. Their actual lives are just slightly different than yours on a daily basis. So stop deluding yourself and keep the law shtick to a minimum.

3.  Occupation. Well, you’re a lawyer, so just say that. “Attorney” is acceptable, albeit a little unnecessarily pretentious.  Please just pick one of those two and leave it at that.  And if you have any desire to show the world what an ironic out-of-the-box hipster you are by describing your occupation as “Jurisprudence” or “Legal Eagling” (or my own personal experiment in humiliation: “Legal Stylist”) or some other horrible twee descriptive, remember: We are not now, nor will we ever be, hipsters.  If we were, we wouldn’t be lawyers.

4.  Income.  ________________.  See that?  See what I just did?  Now replicate it under the “income” field.  I can hear you now: But, I DO make 150,000+! I don’t want people to think I work for a crappy third-tier firm or the government. OK, fine, check the box then, like I first did. And then you’ll find out who you’re actually impressing: one guy. A guy with no profile picture who routinely emailed me on Match with the subject line “hey classy Lady,” identified his occupation as “enginearing,” and listed his hometown as “Asia.”  Don’t be his next target.

5. Last Book Read. I know, I know. We don’t have time to read anything that’s not on Lexis or EDGAR.  Just, for the love of god, don’t say that.  It doesn’t make you sound mysterious and professional and cool; it makes you sound like someone who doesn’t want to admit that he reads TMZ on a daily basis. And if you’re considering taking the opposite tack and showing your enlightened literary side by listing The Secret or anything that has “Mars” and “Venus” in the title and isn’t actually an astronomy textbook, please call 911 immediately and have them put out an Amber alert for your Ability to Walk Through the Halls of Your Firm Without Being Openly Mocked, because it’s long since disappeared.

6. Hobbies/ Interests/ More About You.  OK, this part’s tricky.  If you’ve reeled someone in this far, this is where you can actually seal the deal…or come off sounding like a human 8-K and guaranteeing firm-wide mortification.  First off, remember that, like me, you probably spend 99.8% of the time that you’re not sleeping or heading to work…at work. So be accurate and scale down the exotic hobbies, because you and I both know they’re a load of crap.  Think of the horror that’s bound to unfold when some d-bag senior associate sees your online mug hovering over a self-penned litany of adventure-seeking extreme sport “hobbies” that makes you sound like you split your time between scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro on a motorbike and actually being Lance Armstrong.  When in reality, he knows that you’re a pale, pudgy third-year whose biggest exposure to the outdoors involves the daily 40-yard walk from your office to Starbucks.  Keep it honest.  And if fear of “Send to All” isn’t enough to keep you in line, remember, your eventual online soulmate is going to need to like you for who you really are—and even if you are able to fake it at first, they’re eventually gonna find out that you keep a collection of special boxer shorts in a secret drawer marked “Legal Briefs” and have a Second Life avatar named Jack McCoy.  So, just be honest.  But, you know, try not to sound too much like a serial killer.

That pretty much covers the basics, friends.  Just remember, if you keep it simple and sort of honest (and have a civilian friend look it over) you might actually have a shot at meeting your dream-mate, or at least a bed-mate, sometime before you make partner—while preserving whatever shred of dignity you have left at your firm. Good luck, godspeed, and keep me posted—you can always find me in the trenches under “AttyGrrrl_150+.”  Updated profile to come.


33 Responses to “Online Dating for Lawyers: A Primer”

  1. Wilbur Moore on October 10th, 2008 4:30 am

    Good advice. I have never done the online dating stuff, but I have looked through them and can comment.

    Regarding the income thing, women should not put this down, because, as you say, it attracts a male gigolo/sleaze element looking for someone to live off of. Conversely, because of the continuing double standard, it is ok, but not required,for men to put down their income, as women will be looking at that closely, and will probably reject men who won’t say what they make.

    I think the picture must be good. You don’t want to be branded as a dork even before one word is read. Even if youre not hot, men appreciate knowing what they are getting into.

    You also have to give men an idea of what you are interested in. Yes I know a relationship (we want this too), but will this include sex within [a month /year ]of dating? If not, tell us now, so we go into it with our eyes (if not our pants) open.

    The most important thing (at least to me) is to see a well written bio that doesn’t sound too exhausting. After all, initially, males are looking for someone who is cute, perky and attentive, not someone who is out to save the rain forest or whales. (However, if you are really interested in saving the rain forest or whales, your chances of getting humped that nite are pretty good.

  2. Southern Lawyer on October 10th, 2008 9:56 am

    See, BFW, this is precisely why you and I should meet up. 1) love New York…my favorite place ever; 2) If I ever say “hey classy lady” it probably means I’m making fun of you or the lady who just passed gas at the salad bar; and 3) I’ve never even been to Asia…and, lets be honest, until we bombed 1/2 of the middle east I was a bit shaky even pointing it out on a map!!
    Ps. don’t think I’m not rushing home to plug in your user ID…

  3. S on October 10th, 2008 4:49 pm

    “But, I DO make 150,000+! I don’t want people to think I work for a crappy third-tier firm or the government.”

    I wouldn’t want to date anyone who was so self-involved and close-minded as to think the above. You’ll have better luck connecting with other people when you wise up and realize that not everyone who took a small firm or government job did so because they couldn’t hack it in BigLaw.

  4. Anonymous on October 11th, 2008 9:19 am

    Women who put that down will intimidate some men (even those who earn the big bucks), b/c the men will perceive the woman as high maintenance, especially if and when they want to take time off to pump out a kid or 2. It will also attract scum suckers who want to have the woman support them.

    Men, on the other hand, who put this $ down, will attract women who are looking to be supported (which isn’t all bad if they’re really good looking, not high maintenance, and are willing to screw like bunnies. However, they will also attract phonies that will pretend to fit whatever mold is necessary only for such time necessary to hook in the poor schmuck. Once hitched, the party (and the sex on demand) is EGGZOVER!

    Therefore, it is best not to put this down, and see what you get. It can’t be any worse than the trolls you attract above.

  5. Wilma Dosser on October 12th, 2008 12:43 pm

    I disagree. I want to know how much money my date makes; otherwise I don’t know what I am dealing with. If he makes $150K, he can afford to take me to Morton’s and more. However, If he is a schlump, then I don’t want waste my time with him, even for a only date at Morton’s. Is this sexist; maybe, but lets face it, the man is the breadwinner, and I am the baby-maker. I intend to live up to my end of the deal, and so should he.

  6. Anonymous on October 12th, 2008 7:57 pm

    “And then you’ll find out who you’re actually impressing: one guy. A guy with no profile picture who routinely emailed me on Match with the subject line “hey classy Lady,” identified his occupation as “enginearing,” and listed his hometown as “Asia.” Don’t be his next target.”

    Whereas a high income is a dating liability for a woman, it is a dating asset for a man.

  7. nyc on October 13th, 2008 7:12 am

    It is really none of your business how much money your date makes? Didn’t your mothers’ teach you better than that?

    Wilma, you are the precise reason why I DO NOT list my salary. Perhaps, it would be okay if I asked you how much you weigh before we go out….or, if you’re going to put-out after our “Morton’s date”. Or, maybe by your own scheme, you have to take a fertility test??

    Seems only fair…if you act like an opportunistic whore, you should be treated like one….

  8. SF on October 13th, 2008 10:23 am

    Wilma & Wilber: Double standard my ass. Guys who list their income might as well just title their profile “I am a huge douche.”

    Other no’s: Adding a photo to your profile of you in a creek holding a dead fish. Or you and your car. Or you in a suit holding up a martini glass. No, no and no.

  9. Eileen DeBonis on October 14th, 2008 5:02 am

    Let’s be frank. Men in law are defined by their profession, and women are too, unless they are looking for marriage and a way out of law. To this end, when a male lawyer puts out a profile, he should, in the interest of disclosure (and even moreso to avoid wasting his own time and money) put down his income. If it’s smaller than the woman wants, he will have saved himself the price of feeding the woman.

    The woman can, if she wants (and at her peril) put up her salary. After all, she will get trolls if she shows herself as a breadwinner. If she wants to keep working, fine, but if she wants to be a homemaker, this figure is not necessary, and potentially misleading to the guy, as he might think she will stay in the workforce rather than leaving it.

    The woman, by not putting down her salary, will help show the man that she is on the hunt for a spouse that will support her. This is not a turn off to guys, as long as it’s known up front. This is one case where less disclosure is akin to better disclosure.

    With this as background, the date can be more realistic. The woman will know what the guy makes, and the guy will go in knowing that the woman either doesn’t make big bucks, or is looking to exit the workforce to become a housefrau. Full disclosure. No 10b-5 liability.

  10. Anonymous on October 14th, 2008 7:49 am

    Jesus H, are you people for real?

  11. Southern Lawyer on October 14th, 2008 8:53 am

    You know what, guys you’re right…in fact, tonight when I go meet my friends for drinks, I am going to hit on every girl at the bar and 1st thing I’m going to tell them is how much money I make. Right, Eileen? That way we all know what we are dealing with up front. I mean I wouldn’t want to mislead the girl into thinking that I might make more or less money than she thinks I might make, right?

    And, even better, because even though all I’m really doing is flirting with her, buying her a drink, and maybe even getting drunk enough to make-out or take her home, I’m going to ask her what SHE makes.
    That way I’ll know if I want to marry this girl I’ve picked-up in a bar and if she wants to raise my children…because god knows if she makes more money than I do she can’t raise my children!

    Call me old fashioned but if I want to date someone it has nothing to do with how much money they make. Maybe things in the South are different; but where I come from, you don’t ask someone how much money they make because it’s tacky.

    Also, life experience has taught me that the only people who talk about money the way you people do are the ones who don’t have any. Then again, like I said, in the South, the shoes you wear or car you drive rarely are an indication of wealth.


  12. Eileen DeBonis on October 15th, 2008 4:42 am

    It’s important to lay out the facts, that’s all. Men pick up the tab, even in NYC, and as a southern gentleman, you certainly ought to too. All I am saying is that with full disclosure there are no surprises. We know what we are getting into, and you know what you are getting into. I want to be sure I am not wasting my time, and you should, too.

    We are too old (i.e. beyond our 20’s) to waste time. Yes, the clock is ticking, and yes, I want a family. Not a roll in the hay for the price of a steak!

  13. Southern Lawyer on October 15th, 2008 7:21 am

    No, I’m sorry but I disagree. You can cloak the issue as “not wanting to waste your time.” But, the simple fact of the matter is, you are only willing to date someone who checks the 150+ button. Maybe that’s why you’re single? I guess I’m just more of a romantic, when I go on a date, I see a person…not a bank account.

  14. Eileen DeBonis on October 15th, 2008 7:56 am

    Well, I might go out with someone who makes $100K if he has potential for more down the line. I am sure that he will make an assessment of me and determine if I am “spouse-worthy” too.

  15. Anonymous on October 15th, 2008 9:20 pm

    “We are too old (i.e. beyond our 20’s) to waste time.”

    Curious — exactly how far beyond your 20’s are you? Because your characterizations of men’s and women’s roles and expected patterns of communication do seem quite antiquated.

  16. Eileen DeBonis on October 16th, 2008 2:26 am

    I am 36 if you must know, and my eggs aren’t getting any fresher. By the same token, older men’s sperm are more susceptible to chromosomal damage, in case you didn’t know, so you guys can’t be porkin’ us babes forever and then decide to settle down in your 50’s either! So there.

    There is nothing antiquated about having a relationship. It’s not just more and more sex without a connection.

    I want a relationship leading to marriage, not just sex (that’s old for me). If a guy is serious about a relationship, he will know what I am talking about.

    So all I am saying is expedite the process by weeding out non-performers. It goes both ways. Men know what I want, and if that’s not what they want, fine.

  17. Wilbur Moore on October 16th, 2008 5:24 am

    Eileen and Wilma are sick of guys who want to play the field. That’s all. At their age, I guess I can’t blame them.

  18. Southern Lawyer on October 16th, 2008 9:22 am

    Well, I’m not beyond my 20’s but I do know that just because you’re a little bit older doesn’t change the nature of the game (all sex aside). If you’re weeding-out what YOU perceive to be “non-performers” that may be an indication as to why you are single. Not that I am any expert in that department, I mean lets be honest, I have just as many failed attempts as anyone. I am also really good at getting drunk and sending embarrassing text msgs…but I digress.

    If you have already established that you are only willing to date someone who makes what you want them to make you have really narrowed the dating pool. For example, under your definition of a “non-performer” a man who received his master’s in literature from an Ivy League school and now teaches high school English is not dating worthy because a high school English teacher will never make 6 figures (just an example). Maybe he is a really great guy who would make you happy but you won’t even give him the chance because he doesn’t fit the Eileen definition of a right guy, as expressed by his bank account.

    Eileen, your homework (pun is fully intended) is to go home tonight and think about what it is that you really want. Are you looking for a relationship or financial independence? What are you going to do if you can’t find both?

    Also, women who go by the strategy of “putting all the cards on the table” ALWAYS freak guys out…no matter how old we are….just an fyi.

  19. Eileen DeBonis on October 16th, 2008 1:10 pm

    Southern Lawyer, I understand your viewpoint, but it’s expensive in New York City, and lifestyle is one part of the package. I don’t say some English lit guy can’t be a good husband, but face it, we’d be starving and living in a 3 room apartment above a deii in Queens. That would be a recipe for disaster, even if my hubby was “mr perfect” in your book for me.

    Instead, if my husband is bringing home the bacon, then we can live a lawyer’s lifestyle and have kids that will have what we want them to have. I think that is fair for all. If everyone knows this at the outset, then no one is a loser. Yes, I am weeding out potential spouses, but knowingly for the reasons set forth above.

  20. Wilbur Moore on October 17th, 2008 3:54 pm

    Eileen, it seems to me that you need a good old fashioned humpin’ with an eligible bachelor, but just don’t look to me to do it for you.

  21. Eileen DeBonis on October 20th, 2008 5:22 am

    Wilbur, you are nutless. I dont think I would go out with you, let alone have sex with you. Thank goodness you are not offering!

  22. Elena on December 4th, 2008 4:04 pm

    You forgot to mention that there is an online dating site exclusively for lawyers called! It’s been around about 3 years now. Your senior partner won’t see your profile unless he or she is also on the site, because you can’t search unless you are a member! And wanting to date someone with the same educational background and interests is not pretentious! It just saves time in the long run. Let’s face it. Most people want to match up with someone who has the same interests and educational background.

  23. maya NIle on July 15th, 2009 2:06 pm

    well is there any website where u can find lawyers to date. i am a prospective lawyer.

  24. Guano on July 15th, 2009 7:03 pm

    Prospective Lawyer? Do you think that dating a lawyer will make you a lawyer? I went to law school and all the lawyers I dated there were oafs.

  25. El on July 15th, 2009 10:11 pm

    maya, have you *read* this piece, or this site for that matter?! Why in the world would you *want* to date a lawyer?! Come on!

  26. Guano on July 16th, 2009 4:23 am

    I am a lawyer, and if I could find a female lawyer who was:
    1) smart
    2) pretty
    3) personable and
    4) caring

    I would date her, and probably marry her. But so far, finding all 4 in one female simply has not happened. If anyone knows of such a female, please provide specifics.

  27. Anon on July 20th, 2009 3:00 pm

    Guano: I know several women lawyers fitting that description, but they are either ACLU or public defenders … 😉

  28. Guano on July 20th, 2009 4:01 pm

    My politics might not permit me to date, let alone mate, with someone from the ACLU. I am basically a conservative, and am not the type to engage merely in sexual activities. It must be a real connection for there to be a bona fide relationship. I am one of a very few men who will NOT mislead a woman, have my way with her for a week or 2, then disappear. This has caused me some pain over the years, but I will stay the way I am.

  29. Eileen DeBonis on July 21st, 2009 6:55 am

    Look at him! Can it be? The one male lawyer that DOESN’T think with his weenie? I think not. This man probabley is no diferent than all the others that have soiled us then disappeared while we were left to clean up the pieces. No, this man has to EARN our trust. Saying so is different from doing so. I say not to trust this man.

  30. Alan on July 26th, 2009 6:58 pm

    Eileen, I am not sure any man has ever soiled you, nor do I think that any man has that in mind for you. You may need a good soiling, though. Perhaps the webmaster can get together a list of men that would be willing to provide you with access to their “weenies”. Volunteers anyone?

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