As a lawyer, I read all kinds of material constantly during my working hours. When I do legal research, I usually need to read dozens of cases and absorb all the information contained in such opinions. When reviewing the discovery, I often need to read through the thousands of pages of emails, medical records, contracts, and all the materials that have been produced in this case. While negotiating business deals, I usually need to review long leases, large asset purchase agreements, and all kinds of documents associated with the deals I’m working on. Reading all this material as a lawyer can not only be stressful on the eyes, but it can tire legal practitioners to the point where they don’t want to read for their own personal time.
As a result, on my personal time, I am more likely to watch TV and movies. I also often play video games in my spare time instead of reading. These activities don’t require as much energy as reading books, and since this is a huge departure from the reading I do at work, movies, TV shows, and video games are all much more fun than reading for fun in most cases.
Of course, I’m not saying I never read for pleasure. In fact, I usually keep a few books on my phone and iPad for times when reading is the most convenient activity, like when I’m on public transportation, waiting in line, or on a plane. On some rare occasion, I’ll pick up a book to unwind a bit before I go to bed. However, I rarely pick up a book and read it when I’m at home during the designated free time like I used to.
This definitely had some negative effects on my life. Reading books can be a point of connection between individuals. Since I started practicing law, there have been a few popular books my friends or family have read that I haven’t had the time or inclination to try. This made it more difficult to communicate with people who could read more than me – and I probably wouldn’t be invited to the meeting Pretty Things Club with my current habits. Furthermore, I may have an informational gap in some areas because I haven’t read as many non-fiction works as I used to. Moreover, the entertainment and enjoyment of reading, and the relaxation it can provide, is generally different from other kinds of entertainment, which I miss because law in general keeps me away from recreational reading.
Some other lawyers I surveyed seem to have the same problem as me, finding that they do not enjoy reading as practicing lawyers even though they were motivated to read before entering the legal profession. I’d be interested to hear from readers to see if this is a broader phenomenon in the legal industry and to get some tips lawyers might use to motivate themselves to read for pleasure even though we read all day for work. But it seems that until AI reads to us in the legal field, many lawyers may struggle to read for pleasure.