2011 writers in residence
Ceteris Paribus: Whether in academia, in practice, or on the bench, women lawyers have yet to achieve gender equity in the legal profession. Despite high numbers of women in law school for years now, the pipeline theory hasn’t proven true! Ceteris Paribus (“all things being equal”) examines contemporary issues of and obstacles to women’s advancement in the field, including the glass ceiling, pay discrimination, sexual harassment, the mommy track, or just plain, old sexism, which still rears its ugly head from time to time. This Ms. JD column will help you identify lingering inequalities in your workplace and offer strategies for coping and best practices for change.
Legal Chai: I am a 2010 law graduate and recent bar passer, employed in the public interest field. I am gearing up to take another bar in February 2011. I love the law, but do I love lawyers or the legal profession? Not so much. I think lawyers need to relax, periodically marinate over why we are lawyers in the first place, and really enjoy our world. I'm a free-thinking lawyer, full of ideas and love and commentary on our world, life, the law, politics, and the great beyond. Because after all, we are people first, lawyers second.
In Black & White: The Basics of Legal Marketing: A book of business is power. We all know that. But in these times it’s not as easy as it once was to build and grow a practice… you have to know how to market yourself. In Black & White: The Basics of Legal Marketing takes simple marketing ideas and transforms them into business development tips, advice and strategies that can set a course for your entire career. From networking and referrals to writing a marketing plan to personal branding, we’ll cover the strategies that make sense for lawyers and show you how to integrate them into your already busy daily life. We want to inspire you to make a commitment to marketing and do something every single day.
Partnering Up for Perspective: One of the biggest "fears" out there is that if you work in a demanding profession, you won't be able to lead a balanced lifestyle. We're here to prove that fear wrong! Every month, Neha and Tanya will collaborate in interviewing successful women attorneys who excel in their legal careers, and are able to maintain a fine balance between their professional and personal lives. Henri Matisse once said, “What I dream of is an art of balance.” It is this art that we will be bringing to Ms.JD, along with personal anecdotes, recommendations, and practical suggestions.
A Day Off: "You are an attorney from the moment you step out of the door in the morning." The first time I heard this in law school, I was scared-did that now mean I couldn't sing along with the dirty words in a hip-hop song; wear a miniskirt to a party; or have an opinion about the latest celebrity reality show? In hindsight, I understand what being an attorney means (especially after taking a course in Professional Responsibility) but that does not mean I have given up every original aspect of myself just because I am an attorney. While I grapple with this fact, I find myself noticing the legal aspect of EVERYTHING in my Law and Order: SVU episodes to the assaults on "The Bad Girls Club" (I really love reality shows). The law affects every aspect of our lives and this column will focus on the every day things we love and enjoy from news and politics to music and fashion and how those things are merged in the law. Occasionally, this column will feature guest interviews with practicing attorneys on particular issues. Through this column, readers will be able to discuss the things they love outside of the law while still learning a little about the profession that will become/or is a part of their lives because (I've heard) as an attorney, you never get a day off.
The Thriving Lawyer: Lawyers face challenges unlike those found in many other professions. The combination of long hours, time away from family, pressure to find (and keep) clients, stress, and the ever-present focus on the bottom line doesn’t leave much room for balance or a general sense of well-being. This column will explore why the journey into the legal profession can be a difficult one, and it will offer stories, tips, and tools readers can use to initiate a new conversation within the legal profession – one that promotes thriving.
The Business of Law: While law school teaches students the theories behind the law, it rarely prepares one for life inside a law firm. The truth of the matter is whether your goal is to work in a small or large law firm, you'll be working in a business. Outside of knowing the law, successful attorneys are able to incorproate the tools of the business world to make their mark witin the industry. The series "The Business of Law" provides insight firm interviews in an effort to provide law students and practitioners with the information required to succeed.
Talking Leadership: Conversations with Powerful Women is a set of conversations with women who have embraced leadership and power. All of these women have realized how to overcome the major challenges women still face in achieving visibility, building support, setting boundaries, and influencing up. They come from diverse personal, academic, and professional backgrounds. Through a series of candid conversations, these inspirational women leaders will share their successes and challenges in their pathways to power.
Will This be on the Exam? Answer: Yes. This is the first thing any successful first year law student needs to know. The second thing she needs to know is that her best resource for advice on surviving school is an older student. This column is dedicated to that scared 1L, and it offers advice from a source that can say, "Been there, survived that." By the end of my second year of law school, I will have been a teaching assistant for three different courses: Civil Procedure, Property, and Constitutional Law. As a teaching assistant, I sit in on the class, help the professor to grade midterms, and hold office hours once a week to answer questions about the course. I've been bombarded with questions like: "Should I join a study group?", "I haven't started outlining yet; should I panic?", and my personal favorite: "Can I have a copy of your notes?". This column will answer one of these commonly asked questions each month and will provide some advice for how to survive the insanity that is "1L".
20/20 Reflections of Life in the Law: If you could rewind time, what would you do differently and what would remain the same? Some of the best mentors are those who can let their guard down to share stories of disaster averted, recovery from failure, and the right choices they've made along the way.
This column is a series of reflections from women at different stages of their legal careers exploring where they went right or wrong. Let their lessons serve as guideposts to carving out your own path in the legal world. where they wish they'd shifted gears.
The "L" Years": It is not easy being a young single mother in law school. What do you do when you have to shift your priorities? How do you balance school when there are external forces demanding every second of your time? This column will highlight some of challenges faced by single parents attending law school. I will discuss some of my pitfalls and successes, hoping to bring a sense of hope to young single mothers in law school.
To Law, Or Not to Law: That is the Question: The legal profession, like many other professions out there, tends to take a certain amount of smarts, dedication, and above all, TIME. Whether you are in law school, studying for the bar, or already working in the field, when you are in the thick of it all other things seem to be vastly unimportant in comparison; things like sleeping, eating, or seeing your friends. While I do not claim to be a guru on balancing all aspects of my life, my column seeks to give a much needed perspective on adding balance to your mind-altering schedule. Like the proverb says, "this too shall pass," and you really don't want to look back on your life and see that all you did was work. Dedication is necessary in the field, however you should be equally dedicated to the other aspects of your life like family, friends, and a good meal. Law isn't always about memorizing the facts, so I am here to remind you not to get lost in the trees. Come up and see the forest once in awhile! I promise if I can get through law school, pass the bar, and get a job, you can too! (and hopefully with a lot less crying) So I bring you some thoughts, analogies, and perspectives that I hope will get you through whichever part of this mind-boggling experience you are in.
From the Seat of Power will focus on interviews with women lawyers working in the federal government. This column will explore the unique challenges and rewards of government work, including why these women chose their paths, how they got there, and what they hope to do next. The interviews will focus on balancing personal and professional goals as well as advice for aspiring civil servants.
Going Public will be targeted at those women, particularly those who are still in law school, who have an interest in pursuing a career in public service. The column will explore aspects of “going public,” from deciding as a law school student to pursue a public sector career, to finding jobs, internships, etc. that may lead to successful public sector careers, to the experiences of female lawyers who have careers in the public sector. Though there are many different areas of public service, this column will focus primarily, on careers in government and politics.
The Stories of Ms. Law: Every lawyer loves a good story. It is likely because stories form the bedrock of our profession. From the complaint, to the brief, throughout the closing argument and up until the final decision, everything begins with the facts, the details, the story. The questions of who, what, when, where, why and how create the basis for any case. For example, everyone knows exactly what happened to Ms. Palsgraf on the train platform, Dred Scott after he crossed state lines, and Captain Thomas Dudley and first mate, Edwin Stephens after their twentieth day marooned at sea. Certainly, lawyers extrapolate, twist and turn the facts when applying them to procedural and theoretical rules but the story remains the starting point, that wields undeniable power. Similarly, feminism has held out stories as having a primary importance. The entire feminist movement of consciousness raising in the 1960s and 70s applauded women for sharing their individual stories, believing they were the key to social change. In this blog, as a former journalist, a former storyteller, I hope to tell the real life stories of women in and related to the law and through their narratives revive a form of consciousness raising.
Self-Started is a column that shows law students and young lawyers that entrepreneurial skills can help their legal careers and that there are ways to get involved in entrepreneurial ventures right now. Through the insights I gather from interviews with women with legal backgrounds who started companies, non-profits, and educational programs, among others, I will provide tips and entrepreneurial skills that lawyers need. We can all be creative self-starters, and this column will help inspire!
Making Your Womanhood Work for You: Ever wonder if the rumors that male law students get cold-called more frequently than female students is actually true? Or whether firm hiring partners will actually dock points if you wear pants to an interview? "Working your Womanhood" highlights common (and not-so-common) issues that women face in the legal arena, and effective ways that women have coped with these issues. From the classroom to the workplace, I'll explore the experiences of women in the field who have dealt with balancing their femininity with their legal careers.
Guess Who Sold The Courthouse: Tales from a Small Town Lawyer. Life as a small town lawyer is similar to life under the Big Top. You never know when you'll see a clown, or a one-armed man, or find out your brother put a "For Sale" sign on the courthouse lawn way back in his high school days. Seriously - my town produced both William Jennings Bryan AND Daniel Scopes!! Find out what it is like to be a lawyer in a town (er, more like a village, really) where everybody knows your name, and your mother, and your brother, and your daughter, and your dad....
A Run in Her Stockings is an inspirational advice column for the fabulously, AVERAGE female law student. This column will show readers that there is nothing wrong with being "average" because, well, being average is quite normal. However, being "average" in LSAT scores or law school grades does not mean that you can't show others (especially employers and classmates) how fabulous you are in real life! We will explore how the fabulously, average female law student obtains journal membership, excels in extracurricular activities, passes the bar exam, and more!
Happiness Doesn’t Just Happen: Taking Steps Toward a Satisfying Career: In pursuit of becoming an attorney, we have spent thousands of dollars on higher education, braved the Socratic method, and endured countless anxiety-ridden hours studying for exams. But, why? Job satisfaction affects life satisfaction and at least one out of four lawyers are dissatisfied with their jobs. In addition, lawyers suffer from depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, and suicide at rates much higher than they should. For many, there is a disheartening disparity between why they wanted to be a lawyer and what they are doing with their law degree. Amongst challenges such as student debt, long workdays, unhealthy peer competition, and the pressure to attract and retain clients, the legal profession can make it difficult to find happiness — but not impossible. Throughout the upcoming year, Happiness Doesn’t Just Happen will discuss ways we, as law school students and recent graduates, can increase our likelihood of having a satisfying career. It will take the standpoint that we can actually create our own happy life by choosing to make job satisfaction a priority from the very beginning of our careers. Topics will include interviews of attorneys with careers they are passionate about, with a focus on how they got there; how to judge whether we’ll like a job before accepting a position; and tips for the law student who realizes a career as an attorney is not for her.
Ponderings of a Law Professor: Nearly half of all law students are women. While their increasing numbers have helped change the law school experience to be more inclusive, it still seems an experience that favors the unattached and the unencumbered. Women students struggle to balance their roles as women, wives, mothers, and caretakers with law school’s often all-encompassing demands, which sometimes seem easier for men to meet. They try to hold onto the essence of themselves, which the law school culture sometimes seems intent to change. For those women who come back to law school as professors, life on the other side of the lectern has its own challenges, some of which mirror the challenges they faced as law students. This column provides anecdotes, information, and advice on law school from the other side of the lectern, on surviving law school without losing yourself, and provides information for those women who are considering a career in the legal academy.
Pro Se Pragmatist: Musings of a Right-Brained Girl in a Left-Brained World: This column is about my unique perspective as a creative soul in law school. My work and life experience before endeavoring to become an Esquire was rich with culture and the arts. In the past few months I have found myself reaching out in various ways to satisfy my right brain while still fully engaging in the law school experience. I would like my writings to be a tool for people in law school (or even in the profession already) who would like to incorporate balance in their lives, serving as a guide on how to seek out the best of both worlds. I will continue to hunt for sparks of creativity just as fervently as I hunt out the intricacies of rule language and citation formatting. It would be an honor for you to take the journey with me.
Connections in the Right Direction: Networking Tips: Many recent law school graduates are still struggling to find employment. One of their biggest regrets is not networking enough. Given the current state of the economy, forming professional relationships has become increasingly important. It is especially important for women, who are significantly underrepresented in the legal field. As an individual trying to break into the entertainment industry, networking is essential for my advancement. This column is dedicated to discussing tips for networking, as well as great places to visit, events to attend, and groups to join in order to network.
"Institution Builders, Innovators and Initiators: Women Lawyers Who’ve Started Something": As a member of the inaugural class at the UC Irvine School of Law, I’m beside myself to be a part of so many firsts – the first day of class, the first law review, the first visit by the accreditation committee. Having an immense sense of ownership in helping the campus build, and having a stake in the new school’s success, really resonates with me. And while I’m doing my part largely by showing up to class, I’m inspired by amazing women who have answered a need, fostered an interest, and decided to start something new. These women are brave and brazen builders. In this column, I’ll talk with women lawyers turned leaders, whether it be in a nonprofit, a new school, or a new firm practice group, and find out where their motivation lies, what struggles they’ve faced, and what advice they have to share with us so we can start something ourselves.