On a recent Friday afternoon, with the weekend looming large, I rolled up my sleeves and took on a new assignment. Ducking into the kitchenette in the corner of the Public Interest Law Project‘s Oakland, Calif., office, where I’m spending the year, I found a sponge and soap, ran some warm water, and steadily cleaned the mugs, silverware and loose plates lining the sink. I wiped down the counters and washed out the coffee pot. A co-worker happened by, noticed my work, and nodded his approval. I moved the pointer on the chore wheel to the next name on the roster, one of our co-directors. The kitchenette was spotless.
This was not the first time that cleaning intersected with my legal career. During my 1L year at Stanford Law School, I inadvertently submitted a previous version of my resume to a potential summer employer. I had prepared it a year or so before, while applying for a position in the travel and hospitality industry. It emphasized, in part, my efficiency at scrubbing toilets, changing beds and washing dishes, experience hard-won from a camp near Tahoe I had worked at during college. “I know you must get this a lot,” the interviewer began. “But what exactly do you mean by ‘advanced housekeeping skills?’ I was just wondering how that relates to the law.” I didn’t get an offer there.