Thursday, August 19, 2010

Don't Wear a Wedding Ring and Other Ludicrous (but Necessary) Advice

Saw this comment on Shilling Me Softly and it reminded me of my own law school's career counselors and the advice they had for future grads:
I was in my later 20s when I started law school - not really non-traditional, I guess, though I had been out of college a few years and had a career as a paralegal. After doing really well in my job and being told I'd "make a great lawyer," I tried the LSAT, did great and got into a T14 and also some other schools with scholarships. I was married with a 1.5 year old child at the time. Long story short, I was like D.H. in that the acceptance letter from my 1st tier toilet said that I was a shoo-in for an awesome career, blah blah...I only later learned that a married mother with kids is not getting a job in law. I've been on interviews where they asked all about my husband and child, how I could work long hours and care for her, what my husband did for a living (I guess to see if he could be a stay at home daddy), etc. In short, things that were none of these peoples' f-ing business. I decided to shit-can the "dream" after that. I was lied to by my law school who only later (like D.H., again) told me that getting a job as a mother would be a "problem" and I should not wear my wedding ring to interviews. SCREW THEM, law, lawyers, the law school industrial complex AND the horse it rode in on! I am angry but not bitter, and have managed to find something to do that I really love and that in no way involves law. My heart breaks for single moms and dads trying to make lives better for their kids who succumb to the law school scam. Let's get the word out so hopefully it will happen less! I'm doing my part!
P.S. I guess what made me the sickest about this whole slimy experience was my career services dept. telling me to remove my wedding ring for interviews. Was that so as not to raise "red flags" that I may not be able to work 80 hour weeks for the measly $35K the shit firm wanted to pay me, or was it so the sad sack middle-aged shitlawyer could think he had a shot at younger meat? Who knows? I never found out 'cause I told the woman to go screw herself. That is when I started becoming liberated from this shitty profession, and I make sure to tell everyone I meet who even mentions the words "law school" what a raw deal it is all the way around.
One of the themes of law firms that I have harped on its their amazing ability to circumvent the law.  Law Firms and Lawyers sworn to uphold the law (kinda) regularly discriminate, fail to pay benefits and/or taxes when legally bound to.  Law Schools have grown wise to Law Firms' illegal tendencies and have addressed the issues with law students.  Here's a non-conclusive list of suggestions that I have heard of to land a legal job and circumvent their discrimination and other bizarre preconceptions:

  1. If female, don't wear a wedding ring.  Married women will get pregnant soon after becoming associates and won't be able to meet the billing requirements of  a large firm.
  2. If male, do wear a wedding ring. It makes law firms think you're responsible and willing to meet billable hour requirements to support a family.
  3. If you have curly hair, straighten it and wear it in a law pony tail or bun. I guess this is so you can minimize your ethnicity.  All women should wear their hair in a low ponytail, a bun or a straight bob.
  4. If female, wear a skirt suit and never a pants suit.
  5. Always wear hose, only nude.
  6. For both sexes, only wear suits that are grey, black or dark blue.
  7. If female, don't wear a shell, wear a button down shirt under your suit.
  8. If male, a dark red tie is a power tie.  Wear a dark red tie.
  9. If female, wear pearls.  Don't wear any jewelry than a pearl necklace and earrings.
  10. Never discuss your personal life with interviewers.  Don't mention a significant other, especially if female.  Significant other means pregnancy in the imminent future.
I actually listened to my career services and think it was helpful to follow these guidelines--except the skirt suit one. I hate wearing skirt suits.  However, listing them all out, it is apparent that unattached, Anglo females have an edge, as do males.  And these guidelines are designed to overcome discriminatory hiring that all law firms engage in, from Shitlaw to Biglaw.

Does anyone have any "guidelines" to add?


  1. Here's a couple:

    1. Don't move to another part of the country. If you do, try to hide the fact that you're not a local. The firms will fear that you're not "in it for the long haul" (as if the concept of a permanent job wasn't obsolete) and will want to move home someday.

    2. Watch what you (and your friends) say/post online. Your online reputation (or that of someone with the same name!) could come back to haunt you.

  2. Interesting #2. I went to school before the Internet was wildly used, so that is a smart new one--new to me. I once worked for a firm, and on the first day of my job, the office manager told me that googled me and saw that I'm interested in X, Y and Z and that my political leanings were F. I was flabbergasted. I know everyone googles job applicants these days, but to say it aloud is so bizarre.

  3. i was always told to emphasize my ties to the geography of the firms i wanted to interview with. mention as early as possible that my best friend lives in texas, or that my grandmother lives in DC. lie and tell people my significant other really wants to live in [whatever region of the country].

    talking about hobbies that made me seem interesting was always important, but implying that i wanted to take time during daylight hours to enjoy rugby, swimming, or biking were not allowed.

  4. I love skiing in the mountains of Colorado, but I will do it once a year on firm holidays only. I love Colorado. That makes sense.

  5. I made a comment over at Shilling Me Softly but I'll repeat what I said over there. The legal profession is not only extremely elitist, it is also one of the most sexist and racist professions. It is and will likely always be an old boys club. It is a sad state of affairs when in this day in age career services must still advise women to wear skirts, take off their wedding ring, or swear that they aren't nor ever will be interested in starting a family. While the alpha males bond with law partners over football, golf, sailing, and other hobbies that I could care less about, women are often asked about their relationship status and their future plans, i.e. marriage and babies. I have heard plenty of stories from females and minorities who felt left out of mentoring, watercooler chat, and other after work activities that often meant the difference between partner track or unemployment. It is no secret that capable women are often passed over for younger more attractive women. Mothers and women who desire to have a family someday should think twice before going to law school, T14 or TTT. It won't matter what you do if you're going to be discriminated against because of your ovaries, relationship status, age, or appearance.

  6. 10:57 here again

    Angel: We're in the midst of a tech revolution (similar to the industrial revolution) with all its opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, it is great because we have endless access to information. On the other hand, it is troubling because so do others. Having never used facebook, myspace, or twitter, I thought I was safe. Then I googled my name and discovered that someone with the same name has opened a facebook account with unflattering photos. He's also gone bankrupt. How should I deal with that when applying for a job?

    Recently, I read an article about a German law giving German citizens the option to opt out of having their houses accessed on GoogleMaps "streetview." Why doesn't U.S. law provide similar protection for the privacy rights of its citizens? Who will be able to access our healthcare records when that information goes electronic?

    Hardknocks: The sexism/racism in the legal industry may be a generational problem that is disappearing. In my experiences (started law school in '04) there have been just as many, if not more, women counterparts. The only work I've been able to get (young single white male)since graduating is temporary doc review. The male/female ratio has been about equal, and men seem to be the first to be let go when only a fraction is kept on.

  7. 2:31:

    Yes, it may look good on the surface that women are "cleaning up" in the temp arena, but what you are actually seeing is a threshhold of guilt.

    The rates for temp work continue to fall. There are no benefits, and the job may disappear tomorrow. There is also nothing glamorous about it and it is fairly clerical in nature. Sad but true, many of those hiring would probably prefer to keep women because they can tell themselves that the woman isn't suffering that much if her job disappears tomorrow. They think she only wanted the money for shoes and purses, and that her husband will continue to support her with his "real" job. With men, they have visions of Tiny Tim.

  8. I am a man who worked in BIGLAW for a while and the pattern I noticed was that senior male partners would glom on to attractive young female associates and give them interesting work while everyone else got lots of the usual s*** work.

    I guess these women can legitimately complain that they are on the "eye candy" track, but still I was a bit envious. These women generally were not stuck in the library or document review all day long; they weren't tagged on friday afternoon to work the weekend; etc. They got to work normal sane hours and collect a big paycheck.

  9. I've been practicing 20 years, last 12 on my own w/ one other lawyer. Advice is simple. 1) If you can do anything other than practice law, do it - the money is gone. One area you should all be going into is running for political office positions that pay salaries. 2) If you must practice law, very unlikely anyone is hiring 3) If you hang out your own shingle, remember it is just a lottery ticket - so focus on cases that have a big payday - you only need one. 4) don't blame the sad sack middle aged lawyers - don't blame the Indians -- don't blame the ABA - blame the computers and the software - they are doing to law practice what they did to playing chess - they are simple better at it, for free. It's stark, but its the truth - a free computer software program is a better lawyer than a human being w/ 7 years of higher education and 20 years of practice experience. It's just a fact of life. Get used to it. You can no more compete w/ a machine w/ your mind in areas involving logic/reason than you can compete w/ a machine w/ your body in areas involving speed/strength. As bad as it is now, it's going to get much, much worse.

  10. Here are two committed by a douchebag classmate of mine: cracking an inappropriate or just not-funny joke and checking your watch to see when the interview will be over. You never want to insult a delusionally arrogant biglaw associate...

  11. Law is a pathetic "profession." I have been asked about my religion and my age on interviews. Perhaps, these older attorneys want to see how you respond. But, it is still none of their business. Firms want people who "fit the mold" in mindset (i.e. don't rock the boat), image and wardrobe.

  12. I am wondering why marital status, family, age, or religion are "none of an employer's business." Such things affect employee cost and may also affect business development.

  13. am i mistaken?--i thought it was illegal pursuant to employment law to be asked at interviews about your marriage, family, plans for kids, etc.
    maybe there's a lawsuit in there ironically enough.

  14. Anonymous at 9:57am said it all. I'd add one other point. If a big case does hit and you get some real money, make sure you know how to expatriate your money.

  15. Many of you people and so called scam bloggers just kill me. I was decrying the flat out elitist and racist discrimination of the devils who control law (who you still refuse to identify) many years ago and there was either silence or counter attack against I, the great truthsayer and lawland prophet.

    Now, at this late date, only after you have been stung by those same devils, that you still refuse to identify, you whine about discrimination. Welcome to lawland fools! Where have you been for so long? Enjoy the ride on the devils' one way descent into hell. Idiots! You failed to heed the words of those like I, L4L, John Doeee, and many others for years and now you pay.

  16. Rule drawn from true story at my last firm:

    If you DO have the temerity to have a child, make sure to inform the partners that you have decided not to have any more, so that your career can be the priority. Bonus points if you do this while your rival (for the one partnership that will EVER be given to a woman) is pregnant.

  17. Anyone ever answer with "none of your damn business" to illegal questions or saying it's illegal & as a lawyer YOU should know that? I would just for the laugh it would give me.

    Maybe all the unemployed lawyers should just give a collective middle finger to all this & create their own businesses that are ACTUALLY ethical, instead of just lying about it. Maybe file some police reports & raise holy hell on things. Again, why work in a profession where you'll get blackballed for having convictions & integrity when you're SUPPOSED to prove you have it just to get admitted??? Keeping dirty little secrets would harm you in other fields b/c your silence was acceptance & you made no attempts to warn anyone about anything.

  18. Is 6:07 crazy? I don't get what he's saying. Jadz... never thought about that point... kids are behind me now--nice!



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