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On paying back law school after leaving the profession I am disheartened by Linda Hirshman’s piece “Staying on the job” [ NLJ, Sept. 4], or its inflammatory title on her Web site, “Ladies Who Law School.” Such myopic intellectual snobbery does little toward getting society to value women as a whole. Obtaining a law degree is no easy task. It is patronizing and belittling to couch it in terms of obtaining an “MRS” degree. Very few of my female colleagues even managed to date during its crushing academic demands. Necessarily, many women forgo having children to complete their education only to have significant professional pressure attach in their mid-to-late thirties, their last opportunity to find a mate and have children. The modern workplace structure evolved around the principle that the primary bread winner did not hold child care responsibilities. Law firm culture, predicated in competitiveness, developed its traditional long-hours model around this paradigm. Uncooperatively, the amount of energy, time and attention required to raise a child has not changed. Very few law firms allow flexible schedules or career tracks that make having a family a realistic possibility for those with primary child-care responsibility. The ridiculous notion championed by Ms. Hirshman is that asking for flexibility or reduced hours manifests professional weakness. Wanting to parent one’s own child to her is a ridiculous claim to entitlement. It leaves me wondering-who raised her? For women in law, a baby is a career killer unless they are willing to delegate the majority of child care to someone else. Because law, unlike other fields, refuses to relax its demanding schedule, women leave in droves. The reason is simple: You can’t breast-feed in your office. You can’t pick up your kids at school if you work until 7 every evening. While doctors, businesspeople and academics enjoy flexible schedules and hours, the conservative legal profession stands firmly by its self-flagellating culture of hours. Because promotion hinges upon hours worked as a measure of dedication to the firm, women must choose between motherhood and professional success. Rather than casting her ire on the women who elect to pass on their genetic material, perhaps Ms. Hirshman should cast it upon the legal culture that creates such a Hobson’s choice. If a man had written that piece it would be blatantly misogynistic. Even though a woman wrote it, it still is. Theresa Allyn Queen Washington I felt compelled to comment on Ms. Hirshman’s article regarding women in the legal profession. One does not often see ultrafeminism and pre-Elizabethan misogyny so seamlessly combined. People attend law school for any number of reasons: the desire for wealth, prestige or intellectual stimulation, or to avoid the real world for three years. Isn’t this true for all higher educational pursuits? Perhaps women should stick to unskilled jobs because of the off chance that they may get married, have kids and develop the desire to devote time to their families. Or is that too disruptive to the workplace? If only the unemployed and unemployable procreate, hard-earned tax dollars can go straight into welfare, instead of being wasted on fickle female law students. Perhaps Ms. Hirshman can lend us her crystal ball, so that we may have the benefit of perfect foresight when we make all of our personal and professional decisions. Law students would thank her; lawyers leave the profession in droves every year, disillusioned by the realities of practicing law. My mother-in-law’s parents pulled her out of college after freshman year because she failed to find a husband. Fortunately, the “MRS” degree has gone the way of the poodle skirt. The number of women who actually marry a law school classmate, if my experience reflects the norm, is statistically insignificant and, amazingly, identical to the number of men who marry a law school classmate. My husband and I were two of only four classmates who married. We are both still working, utilizing our expensive educations. However, if we have children, one of us may reduce time at work to, perish the thought, raise them. Workplaces are more family-friendly than 25 years ago, but people must still make choices between career and family. It’s logical that career advancement is slowed by a reduction in hours, whatever the reason. Is it better to stay out of the race entirely? One day, “mother,” “father” and “family” will be dirty words and children will be bred in petri dishes and raised in compounds as Aldous Huxley hyperbolized in Brave New World. For now, we’re doing the best we can to strike a balance we can live with. Michele Gernhardt Richmond, Va. As a third-year female law student on the brink of graduation, I was deeply offended by Linda Hirshman’s article. To even suggest that women, such as myself, would put in three years of blood, sweat and tears in order to get an “MRS” degree is ludicrous. My interest in becoming a lawyer was never motivated by “the dating game”-in fact, I cannot think of one of my female classmates who was. And to suggest that leaving the work force in 10 years in order to perpetuate the human race should force women to give back any scholarship tuition they may have received is a slap in the face to motherhood and femininity. How dare she? Does it not make sense that as more women enter the field in positions of power, the entire system will accommodate our needs? Instead, Ms. Hirshman thinks that if we want to get married and have children 10 years down the line, we should have to give up the financial assistance we received. Where is the logic in that? I am not so na�ve as to think that balancing a law career and family will be simple. But changing my career 10 years down the line to accommodate any family I should have is not something for which I should be punished. Shame on her for suggesting otherwise. Stephanie Caparelli Chicago

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