One of my friends has begun to rely on me consistently to help him with his legal work; and I’m getting irritated with him. He works in a separate firm, at a more junior level, and is therefore used to relying on guidance from other more senior staff while in the office. However, since lockdown he has been working more from home, and tends to contact me rather than his own manager as he doesn’t want to appear as if he can’t work independently. I was happy to help out with the odd query, but he is now increasingly relying on me on a daily basis to confirm, for example processes for lodging documents and drafting statements, and it is encroaching on my own working day. I don’t want to jeopardise my friendship, but I can’t continue like this either.
Your friendship is clearly under strain – and likely to be further impacted if you don’t address this issue promptly.
Although your friend is at a more junior level, he still needs to be clear on the boundaries in regard to the support you can provide going forward. Therefore arrange a time to have a coffee across Zoom, and just confirm the pressures you too are under, explaining how you will not be as accessible as you have been.
Also confirm that it is important for him to feel supported at work and that he raise any concerns with his own manager to ensure that he can ask questions as and when he needs; it may be that one of his colleagues could be his designated mentor and provide him with the support he needs.
Explain to him that everyone needs a helping hand once in a while, and whilst you are happy to provide this, it can’t be something you can provide on a daily basis because of the challenges of your own job.
Hopefully by being open and honest you can make your friend understand your point of view; if he is a true friend then he will understand!
“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to them via the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.
Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. Email email@example.com or phone 0131 226 7411 (select option 3).
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