So, a typical day in Shit Law Practice is as follows:
I'd rush down to court to make 9:30 a.m. call. I'd roll in, right in the nick of time, and sit in the jury box (which is where the attorneys sat during call). I would look around at my peers in the jury box and I would notice, more often than not, I was one of a few ladies and I was the only minority. On occassion, I would see another minority. It was usually a black male. We would acknowledge each other as the outsiders with a very professional nod. At that point in my life, I felt like the law profession was an Old Boy's Club. Usually, old and white too. But this mirrored my experience in Law School--at least, in that most of the students were white. At the time, I guess I assumed that minorities didn't really go to law school in large numbers. Afterall, minorities weren't at my Law Firm either. And it was my understanding that there had never been a minority associate prior to myself. So, I took it as it was. Everyone was always pleasant with me. I didn't see it as a problem. I thought it was the way our profession was--mostly white and male.
When I went to a mid-level firm, my days in court were very similar to those days in shit law. I was often the only minority in the room, once again. It was reaffirmation of what I knew to be true.
Then, I went to Big Law. It was a whole new world. There were minorities everywhere. Even people of different sexual orientations and religious practices. I was so enthralled. How could this be? Minorities were seemingly absent from the legal industry from law school to shit law to mid-level firms... and then they appeared magically at the highest level of practice! It was quite a delight.
But then I found out that our presence in big law wasn't so much of a magical occurence. Big Law recruits minorities and women because it affects their Vault numbers. The fact that they went out of their way to recruit people like me made the law firm seem disengenuous. Shouldn't they just hire the best and brightest? I don't want to be given any handouts and the law firm's attempts to color the roster of the big firm made me question whether or not I deserved to be there... or was I just a tally mark for Human Resources?
But I grew to love the diversity of experiences there. And I do admit, it added a little something to the environment that had been lacking at my other firms.
But, eventually, I was laid off from Big Law. Now, I do document review. When I walk into my work room, I find that the majority of my fellow document reviewers are minorities--and female as well. Was this where they had been hiding all along? I see asians and hispanics and blacks and women and lawyers nearly old enough to retire.
I'm not sure if my observations are accurate. I can only speak to what I see. But, if I have seen an accurate cross section of the legal world, what does this say about minorities and women in the law? Maybe we are good enough to be at the top firms for their own purposes... but when the going gets tough, we are the first to get sacrificed.
You would be shocked at how many people who do document review were laid off from Big Law. Contrary to popular belief, it's not a refuge for those who couldn't do better. It seems to be a pergatory for those who did.
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