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The popularity of new television shows such as ABC’s The Deep End, includes interpersonal and romantic relationships. One couple is married and experiencing significant marital problems that are spilling over into their work days and another couple is just beginning to explore a new relationship that, of course, is spilling over into their work days as well. While this is all fine and good, it’s important to realize first, that it’s a television show and secondly, office romances aren’t neatly tidied up once a week and within a forty two minute time frame. A. Harrison Barnes, founder of says it’s natural for some lawyers to find themselves treading those romantic waters. Partly because of the long hours sometimes required when preparing for a case; it’s human nature for a relationship – even a professional one – to progress into those murky waters. It might be human nature, but it can also be dangerous, Barnes points out.

Office romances have a powerful presence in some law firms. They can be distracting to co-workers who are devoting at least a portion of their work days to investigating whether or not there are fireworks going off between two people and if so, how hot are they burning. People begin to watch closely for any tell-tale signs that will not only give the two love birds away, but that might also be indicative of trouble in paradise. A. Harrison Barnes also points out there can be legal ramifications in those seriously flawed office romances. Sexual harassment cases are sometimes filed by vengeful exes, and if there are any adulterous behaviors involved, spouses can be lash out in any number of ways – including barreling into important client meetings. While no one would downplay the devastation of realizing a spouse is cheating, it can be disastrous for a law firm that employs two people involved in anything other than a professional relationship.

So what do you do when you find yourself attracted to a co-worker? Among other things, approach with caution. While we won’t definitely discourage it, you may want to check your own employer’s policies. It may be relationships such as these are not allowed. If you disregard the policy, you then run the risk of being outed and the very real possibility of jeopardizing your career with the law firm. While there are few, if any, reliable numbers, it’s not uncommon for one half of a potential love affair to change jobs.

Thinking it might be the best avenue for you to pursue, too? Consider and the many career opportunities it presents from law firms across the country. Here, you can update your resume, change specialties and get a new start. This way, if the romance does blossom, you’re not in violation of company policy, says Barnes. The problem comes in when someone believes they shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything, despite company policies. This line of reasoning, of course, is exactly why so many legal firms discourage or prohibit romantic relationships at all.

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