Kristine_Cherek

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

First, let me check my privilege at the door.  I am a college-educated, white, married suburbanite.  I was lucky enough to have been born to parents who value education and who could afford to pay for mine.  I live in a golf course community in a beachside town.  I drive my European SUV to the law school where I teach.  No, I do not consider myself to be disadvantaged by any definition of the word.  But in the view of many, I am not just disadvantaged.  I am less than equal simply because of my gender.  When I entered the…

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Kristine_Cherek

Unsolicited Advice From a Law Professor: Surviving Final Exams

During my undergraduate years one of my friends mastered the art of maximum performance on minimal effort.  She rarely studied.  She often chose to sleep late over attending class.  She purchased the course textbooks only sometimes.  Other times she “purchased” the text the day before the final exam, studied that night, then returned it in time to meet the bookstore’s 24-hour return policy.  She reasoned that, if she could earn “B” grades with minimal effort, it was not worth the extra effort to go for the “A”.  For intelligent and intellectually gifted individuals like my friend, this approach may have…

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Kristine_Cherek

“Locker Room Talk” Is Not Just Talk

As a former “big firm” attorney and the former General Counsel of a privately-held corporation, I built my career in a male-dominated world.  Like many women of my 40-something generation I’ve experienced my share of sexism, bias, and exclusion.  I got used to people assuming I was a secretary or paralegal just because I am female.  I’ve been called sweetheart, girl, little lady, and a variety of other demeaning terms.  I learned to ignore the occasional lewd joke or crass comment.  I cringed when my colleagues referred to a young female intern as “the body” rather than by her name. …

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Kristine_Cherek

A Letter to My 22-Year-Old, 1L Self (Or, What I Wish I Had Known Back Then)

Dear 1L Kristine, Welcome to law school!  That goal you have been talking about since you were nine years old - you finally made it.  Congratulations!  But do not revel in your accomplishment for too long, for there is a lot of hard work ahead of you. Law school is an intimidating place.  You are going to be a little (or a lot) scared, especially in the first year.  That’s okay.  Everyone else is scared, too.  They are just better at hiding it than you are.  You are going to have doubts.  You are going to think everyone is smarter…

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Kristine_Cherek

Like Cinderella, But Different

As a little girl I did not dress up in princess costumes.  I couldn’t imagine my future wedding.  I did not dream of the day my prince would come.  Instead I dreamt of court rooms, board rooms, and corner offices.  There would be no glass slippers in my future.   Unless, of course, the glass slippers were Louboutins that I purchased for myself.   I was raised by a Gloria Steinem-loving, unapologetic feminist mom.  Hers was not an enviable position.  She was a single mom raising three young girls in the 1970s – a time period in which NO ONE in our…

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Kristine_Cherek

Be Like Elle Woods

If You Could Do Anything You Wanted (Career-Wise), What Would It Be?  Would you be confident enough to believe you could do it?  Would you be fearless enough to try?  For me, it all started when my husband received one of those “too good to pass up” job opportunities.  The problem was that it required a move to the other side of the country, far away from my clients and my career.  Being equal spouses with equally important careers, we had been committed to remaining in our Midwestern city.  But even I had to admit this one was different.    A…

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Kristine_Cherek

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times, and Everything In-Between: Let Them Eat Pie!

"It is like a pie eating contest where the prize is more pie." That was my mentor’s (witty and very accurate) description of what it is like to be promoted to partner at a major law firm. The year was 2005 and I was an 8th year associate in distress.  From an outsider’s perspective it appeared I had everything firmly under control.  I had proven myself and moved up the associate ranks.  I had every indication I was on track to be promoted to partner within a few “short” years.  Silently, though, I was having a career crisis of the…

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Kristine_Cherek

Advice For the Incoming Summer Associates (Or, “When Smart People Do Stupid Things”)

Each May, the best and brightest law students from coast to coast descend upon the nation’s largest law firms to begin a summer-long adventure.  If you are among the chosen ones, congratulations are in order.  Your resume made it through the initial culling of the herd.  You sailed through the on-campus interviews.  You successfully navigated the callback interview process.  You were selected from literally thousands of applicants who initially sought a spot in the firm’s summer program.  You can now call yourself a summer associate.   Now what?   Years ago I stood where you now stand.  I was a…

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Kristine_Cherek

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times, and Everything In-Between: It Was Never a Dress

By now you have probably seen this image pop up in your social media feed.  Maybe it gave you the bit of inspiration you needed to make it through a difficult day.  Maybe it empowered you on a grander scale.  Maybe you stopped for a moment to appreciate the ingenuity of the creator.  Maybe you viewed it as a commentary on the traditional constraints imposed upon women in the professional world and in society.  Maybe, for you, it was all of the above.  For me, this image succinctly symbolizes what I know to be true: there are superhero women who…

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Kristine_Cherek

“Girls Don’t Cook, Silly!” and Other Observations on the Role of Women in the Profession and Family

My sister is many things, but a good cook is not one of them.  She is incredibly smart; she holds a Ph.D. in the medical field.  By day, she works tirelessly to improve the lives of her patients.  By night, she is the most dedicated mom I have ever known.  But she is not a good cook.  Thankfully for everyone involved, her husband is an artist in the kitchen.  One evening when her husband was working late, my sister realized she needed to feed their children SOMETHING for dinner.  She rose to the challenge.  As my sister was pulling the…

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