The dating game
13 February 1996
They are intelligent, hard-working employees and well paid for their commitment. But are high fliers happy? Many appear to be sacrificing their personal lives on the altar of success.
Lawyers are typical of the professional classes for whom St Valentine's day means nothing. Locked into busy schedules, they have no time to search out their ideal partner. Instead, they either stay on their own, marry legal, or choose a quick route to relationships by advertising.
Sirius Introductions agency recently published the results of a members' survey which revealed that 17 per cent of its 4,000 members are from the legal profession.
Most of these 700 or so prospective dates are barristers and solicitors, although in the past, the company has even had a judge on its books. The reason for this patronage is easily explained, says spokeswoman Gillian Johnston.
"They are busy people," she says. "Very often professionals don't really want to date people who they meet through work, because it may be considered unprofessional, for example, between solicitor and client."
Andrew and Sue (not their real names) are typical of the legal practitioners whose busy lives mean they have difficulty meeting members of the opposite sex during the normal run of things.
Andrew, a sole practitioner based in London, says: "I joined because, following the break-up of my marriage, I found there was no mechanism to relaunch me socially.
Sue, a partner in a northern firm of solicitors, says: "Professional people often find it difficult to meet new people, as it would be unprofessional to form personal relationships with colleagues or clients."
Johnston adds: "We don't purport to be a marriage bureau, and the majority of people who join say they want to meet a lot of people, but when it comes down to it they are looking to meet that special person."
Agencies operate on the basis that you pay a set fee to enroll, and are guaranteed a minimum number of introductions. In Sirius' case, these are £699 and 12 respectively. But even then, can the lonely lawyer find a spare evening to meet their date?
Johnston says: "Once people have taken the step and taken control of their destiny they make the extra effort to go out."
There are other ways of finding your perfect partner without the time-consuming business of everyday socialising. Lonely hearts ads in the press have their fair share of legal patrons, but the tactic is less selective than joining an upmarket introductions network.
But could it be that the gravity of the legal world leaves its inhabitants shy or stand-offish? The evidence from a sexual fantasy survey by Cosmopolitan is mixed.
Darius, 30, a solicitor, prefers reservation in his partners. "A woman who speaks passionately about a book she's read" is his favourite turn-on.
But Gary, a solicitor of the same age, liked his dates raunchy, preferring "women who aren't afraid of talking about sex".
And, according to research by Sirius, lawyers make very good partners. Its survey found they got higher ratings as partners than any other profession, with almost 73 per cent of members surveyed giving legal lovers their approval.
One aspiring lawyer who takes both law and dating seriously believes the profession has its own way of getting round the problem of meeting the opposite sex.
Nick Brown, a 22-year-old Cambridge law graduate who wants to be a barrister, took part in London Weekend Television's Blind Date last year. Despite being mismatched with a young student from Leeds, he maintains a keen interest in the subject of liaisons.
"In my experience you tend to find lawyers marry lawyers or go out with other lawyers," he says.
"In Cambridge, for example, which has a thriving law society, there are a lot of 'dos', and a lot of booze flowing, and you tend to find lawyers getting very cliquey and relationships springing up between them.
"There is less chance of success if you are restricting yourself to a small portion of the population. If you are only meeting other lawyers, there is less chance of you meeting someone compatible.
"Equally, the law isn't everyone's cup of tea, so if their topic of conversation is limited to the law, why shouldn't they choose a partner who is equally interested."