jessie

Are You Living Your Life Like You’re Planning to Fail?

I think many of us introduce ourselves, our ideas, and our work with any number of disclaimers: "maybe this is a stupid question, but..."; "I don't know that much about this, but..."; "I'm probably wrong, but..." I think I couch my viewpoints as a way to avoid appearing confrontational or as a way to mitigate the perception of error - that is, if my substantive contribution is correct, then great, but if not, then at least I predicted that and got something right. I have come to understand that neither possible benefit outweighs the cost paid in how I am…

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jessie

Clippings: NYT on Law Firms’ Changing Attitudes towards Work/Life Balance

Lisa Belkin interviews Deborah Epstein Henry and details the recent and rapid transformation of many law firms' policies in today's New York Times article, Who's Cuddly Now? Law Firms. Among other signs of change, Belkin noted this touching vignette:A harbinger of changing times might well be the brief filed by the hard-driving white-shoe firm of Weil Gotshal & Manges of New York, asking a judge to reschedule hearings set for Dec. 18, 19, 20 and 27 of last year.“Those dates are smack in the middle of our children’s winter breaks, which are sometimes the only times to be with our…

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jessie

A Note on the Democratic In-Fighting and the Image of Corporate Counsel

So in the scuffle that was the Democratic Presidential Debate last night Clinton and Obama exchanged a number of accusations including that Clinton served on the board of directors of Wal-Mart; Obama worked for a law firm that represented an inner-city slumlord. Whether or not those barbs are accurate, in good taste, or relevant has generated a lot of media coverage. But the accusations that really caught my attention were the references both Clinton and Obama made to their opponent's service with "corporate law firms." There are a number of ironies here. First, lawyers are overwhelmingly liberal - why villify…

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jessie

Clippings: Steinem on Hillary

Gloria Steinem's NYT column, "Women Are Never Front-Runners" completely blew me away. No matter what your political background I recommend her fresh analysis of the coverage of Obama and Clinton and the role of gender in this election. As Steinem writes,... what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex. What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations. What worries me is that male Iowa…

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jessie

Southern Ms. Part III: Networking

This week the female clerks in my building are gathering for our second "Wine on Wednesday." Wednesday was chosen because that's when the male clerks in the building hold practice for their all-male basketball league. For many years I've heard the stories about the exclusion of women from valuable athletics-based networking events. Whether it be the company softball team or the annual super-bowl pool, these always seemed like tell-tale signs of latent discrimination. I've also heard about the mani-pedi events firms organize for women to compensate, and then how these events were terminated due to IRS crackdowns. Having never been…

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jessie

Southern Ms. Part II: An Advantage of the Opt-Out Assumption?

It seems that some women in the Mid-South may be benefitting from the assmption that they will opt-out. A friend is interviewing for associate positions with BigLaw firms here. One veteran local lawyer gave her the following tidbit, which I found just fascinating: it's easier for a woman to get an associate's position in this market than a man, because the assumption is you'll work hard and devote yourself to the firm for five years or so and then leave to have children, i.e. you'll never be in competition for partnership. The legal market here is healthy but not huge…

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jessie

1Ls: Finals Are Over, Time to Find a Summer Job

For those of you finishing up your first semester this week: Congratualtions! Next step: summer job. 1L summer jobs can be found in firms, non-profits, government agencies, judges' chambers, and law school. Each has distinct benefits and its own application timetable. It's time to think about all of them now, because winter break may be your chance to get a foot in the door. Law Firms: not long ago paid law clerk positions were reserved either to the very top schools or the very top students. But in the last few years more firms are hiring more 1Ls from more…

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jessie

BigLaw Perks: Superficial or Fundamental?

A New York Times article detailing new perks designed to keep associates happy in BigLaw firms is making the rounds. These perks range from surprise treats likes milkshakes and candied apples to personal valet services, mental health professionals, and full-tiime in-house childcare. As someone who's never worked at a firm this all sounds pretty good-but what do I know? I can say this, the "principal" at the big Chicago firm that derided these measures saying, "that's setting up people's lives, and I find that appalling," strikes me as someone who has more help at home than your average female associate.…

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jessie

Scary Numbers on Women in Academia

Ann Farmer's new research on legal academic hiring puts a new twist on the disturbing news reported earlier this week that universities are generally creating fewer tenured professorships.For the 2004–2005 academic year, women comprised25% of tenured full professors46% of tenure-track assistant professors66% of lecturers and instructors54% of associate deans without professional titles68% of assistant deans without professional titlesAs a person interested in possibly pursuing a career in academia, these numbers are troubling. There are already fewer tenure spots opening up-instead aspiring professors are being shuffled into part-time and non-tenured positions. And now it seems that women are experiencing this shuffle…

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jessie

Betrayal: Sexual Harrassment by Mentors

I can't stop thinking about a recent story out of a Texas district court of several alleged acts of extremly severe sexual harrassment by a federal judge. There are a number of disturbing circumstances involved. The alleged aggressor is a federal judge-a person we all trust to uphold the law. The alleged attack was barbaric and, according to more than one accuser, just the most recent and sever in a long history of abuse of female subordinates. I'm clerking this year, so the intimate setting in which these attacks purportudely took place is familiar to me, and it's a particularly…

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