Finding courtship out of court

Linda Tsang says that despite hectic lifestyles and busy schedules, it is not impossible for a lawyer to find a partner. Linda Tsang is a freelance journalist.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young lawyer in possession of a desirable salary, flat and car is in need of a partner, and that does not mean (necessarily) one of the partners on the firm's letterhead.

If This Life is anything to go by, young lawyers are so entangled in their romances that they scarcely have time to do research or even proper work.

But in real life, when the only new people you meet are clients and other advisers, romance is not always an option. With chargeable hours the priority, Valentine's Day can be just another chargeable day, and lawyers often do not want to date colleagues or clients as this can be seen as rather unprofessional.

This is obviously an intensely personal matter, and personal recommendation of a dating or introduction agency would, of course, be the ideal. The stigma attached to using dating agencies has diminished as more people are working harder for longer hours and have fewer opportunities to meet people. With the media inventing the term “singleton” for the young single professional in search of a partner, this is a new market that is being well catered for.

The Association of British Introduction Agencies has a number of the well-known agencies as its members, and has its own code of conduct. Membership is not compulsory, and you should obviously also do a bit of homework yourself. Find out exactly what you are getting for your money and what kind of safeguards the agency itself has in place.

A more recent innovation in this area is the lunch club, where the club arranges the time, books the restaurant, and organises a lunch partner. This can seem the ideal solution, and rather like having your own social secretary the only problem may be whether you actually have time in your hectic schedule for lunch.

If time is too limited, there is the option of using the personal columns of the broadsheets or magazines. If you read a particular broadsheet or magazine which reflects your interests and lifestyle, that is probably the most suitable publication to put your ad in, but you should also scour others to get an idea of style and vocabulary, such as “gsoh” (personal adspeak for “good sense of humour”).

When writing your advert, try not to include any words that could be misconstrued as lawyers, you should be able to work that one out for yourself.

Although personal ads are dominated by the phone, other technology is already impinging on this area and any would-be romantic who is also a technophile can now browse the Web and hook up on a chat line to find their own Net mate for cyber-dating.

Inevitably, there can be the temptation to be “economic with the actualite” whether using an agency, print or the Internet.

Try to resist this a recent survey for a women's magazine found that two-thirds of its readers believed that men are less than truthful when it comes to describing themselves, concluding that often Mr Tall Dark and Handsome is, in reality, Mr Fat Balding and Broke.

So, it is basically a case of caveat dater once you have decided that you want to take the next step and meet that other professional with a good sense of humour, there are a number of practical things to bear in mind. See below.

From no life to this life some useful tips:

Arrange meetings in public places somewhere neutral. It is advisable to make your own way there rather than accept a lift.

Do not give out your address or other details which make you easy to find until you are sure you want to continue the relationship.

If you have any doubts, go with your gut instincts.

Tell someone where you are going, who you are meeting and how long you expect to be there Such cautionary advice is not anti-romantic, but just a sensible precaution.

Finally, never let it be said that age can be a barrier in the matter of true love one woman, Trixie Everitt, gave strict instructions to four dating agencies in Winnipeg. She wants a man who sings well, looks good in tights and is no older than 35. She is 90…