By Kelly Alter • February 28, 2017•Careers, Other Career Issues, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job
One can sometimes hear that movies have long ago became a secondary, accompanying product of Hollywood. The primary one is, of course, lawsuits.
Hollywood stars, their retainers, cast members, support staff, janitors and random passers-by seem to be existing in a constant state of anticipation, only jumping into frantic activity when an opportunity presents itself to sue somebody rich and famous. In such a situation, a question presents itself: can a woman attorney succeed in such an environment? What does it entail? Let’s take a closer look.
1. Is the Question Right?
First of all, the question itself isn’t quite correct. Of course, success is possible – one can simply name a couple of tremendously influential female attorneys like Laura Wasser to answer this part. The question should probably go differently: can new women attorneys succeed there? Or, for that matter, any new attorneys at all?
Like any other entity where enormous money is involved, Hollywood is a rather tightly enclosed system, with spheres of influence, specializations and especially abundant feeding ground all carefully divided between the bigger fish. While important players may vie for dominance, any newcomer will encounter awful pressure. To succeed as an attorney in Hollywood, you should either come from a lawyer family with decades’ worth of networking or be the best in your field. For women, this task may be even harder because they are traditionally viewed with a certain doubt outside of a few areas like divorce law.
2. Capitalizing on Your Strengths
One way that is more likely to result in success is stressing one’s gender identity rather than working around it. There are some areas where women lawyers are viewed as preferable, especially by female clients: the aforementioned divorce law, cases dealing with sexual assault, medical procedures gone wrong and so on. The fact one works in Hollywood doesn’t change that – and taking into account the fact that histrionics often rub off the law proceedings originating in this place, being represented by a woman can give important emotional bonus points to almost any case.
3. Joining a Larger Firm
One thing a newcomer lawyer is very unlikely to do in Hollywood is to be able to start out on one’s own. Joining an already existing firm, if they are hiring, is almost the only way – and some of them are better suited for women lawyers than others, primarily the newer ones with less rigid traditions and structures. Remember that there are many areas outside of those better associated with Hollywood that need representing, and competition in them is likely to be less rabid. Divorce law may be by far the most important Hollywood legal goldmine, but other, less visible matter are no less important. Take injury law – while injuries suffered by famous actors immediately become common knowledge, there are hundreds of cases every year of people sustaining injuries in Hollywood-related activities, and all of them need representing. Women are often viewed by the jury as more compassionate and trustworthy when working on such cases – which is a good reason to choose it as your specialty.
4. Being Better than Everyone Else
To make a chance of making it big in Hollywood as a lawyer one has to be among the best in the field. It is doubly so for women – in this traditionally male-controlled industry they always had to work harder to prove their abilities than their male colleagues. Thus, working in Hollywood means that you should be ready to subject your entire life to this work. If you believe you can do it, good luck then!
Women attorneys in Hollywood are by no means scarce – but they are a tough bunch, and only you know if you have it in yourself to join them.