Firm Culture

A Sweeter World?

I was speaking to a university student the other day who I will call Lara.  Lara told me that she occasionally has a super nice dinner at her friend Kim’s expense.

It seems that sometimes Kim meets a Sugar Daddy who treats her to a nice meal at a fine restaurant. Kim is just a little bit nervous about meeting strange men for dinner, so she has Lara come to the restaurant, sit at a nearby table, and keep an eye on her.

Kim gets a nice meal and conversation, and somewhere between $300.00 and $1,000.00 for her trouble. With her earnings she pays for Lara’s meal.

Everyone wins. Or maybe everyone loses.

I have no first-hand knowledge about Sugar Daddies. I always thought that by definition sex was involved, but Lara assures me that this is not the case. No, Kim just goes to dinner, engages in pleasant conversation, and earns some spare change. Sometimes there is also a shopping trip involved where she gets some more goodies, but that is all.

I find it sad, on so many levels.

It is sad that there are apparently many young women and men struggling to pursue their education on financial resources that are so stretched that they have to find older companions to entertain to make ends meet.

It is sad that there are older people who, despite having more than enough money to meet all of their needs, are so desperate for pleasant company that they have to pay for it.

It is sad that we live in a society where social interactions among people, and in particular among people from different generations, are not a normal, natural, thing so that some people have to seek out paid friends.

Of course, there is a line between the type of social interactions that Kim offers to her male friends and what to some people would be considered more objectionable activities. I offer no judgment for those who cross that line. To me, that is just another degree of sadness.

I connect just about everything that I write to law firms. In this case the connection is not particularly obvious, but I think that there is one.  Law firms are just a microcosm of our society. In our law firms we have collections of individuals, some of whom are more socially adept than others. Many people come to an office, put their heads down, and do their work. Of course, some of those people are well adjusted with marvelous networks of family and friends.  Others are terribly lonely, despite being surrounded daily by co-workers and “work friends.”

How about we take a break from maximizing billable hours and profits, look around at those who we work with, interact with them, and be human? For free.  Maybe we could even re-engineer our law firms and other high-stress work environments to de-emphasize productivity just enough to encourage people to interact with each other.

And about the ridiculous financial strain that we put on students – we should fix that.

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