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For most of her 37 years, New York’s WCBS-TV News anchor Angela Rae took an extremely dim view of television newscasters, especially when people suggested she become one. “I thought it was cheesy,” she said, “all hair and makeup, the antithesis of what I was about. I didn’t think there was a whole lot of intellect involved, and I wanted to be appreciated for my intellect.” A native of LaMarque, Texas, Rae had planned on applying her intelligence to corporate litigation. She majored in finance and international business at the University of Texas, and after a few years working for Allstate in Dallas, gained admission to the University of Virginia School of Law. She excelled in moot court. “I remember once, they put me up against the smartest guy in my class,” she recalled. “He had a well-written brief, but he couldn’t argue. I can argue my butt off. In fact, at the end of the trial, one of the judges said to me, ‘Miss, if you do not litigate, you are certainly missing your calling.’ “ But Rae also learned that law was about more than convincing a jury. “It was about researching and writing briefs and settling cases out of court — things that just didn’t fit with my personality,” she said. Her clerkships left her uninspired, and by the time she received her J.D., she realized her calling lay outside the legal profession. Not passing the bar exam only confirmed it. “I thought I could put to use the things I loved about litigation — arguing, communicating, and persuading — in a different way.” And so, after resisting the advice of friends, Rae, at the age of 31, finally considered the TV news option, even though she had no journalistic experience. Her law degree, coupled with her powers of persuasion, helped her land an internship at a Fox affiliate in Texas. She made a tape — “with no makeup” — and was soon hired as a news anchor by an ABC station in Jackson, Miss. A top job at WFOR, the CBS affiliate in Miami, followed, and five years later, in August 2000, she started delivering the news to millions of New Yorkers at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. “My legal training gives me more confidence in my job,” said Rae. “You know what your rights are, what other people’s rights are. You know the questions to ask lawyers and how to ask them in a way that’s not off-putting to the viewer. You don’t use words like enjoin.” Rae admits that “part of me still wants to take the bar. But I feel more ‘me’ in this job than I would have as an attorney. I speak from the heart, which I don’t think I could do as a lawyer. I have a lot of respect for the legal profession. When anyone bashes it, they’re bashing me too. I’m equally critical of the media.” Criticism is something Rae has had to get used to, especially with WCBS-TV News lagging in the ratings. Still, she loves having a 212 area code and the glamour associated with her job. “The greatest satisfaction I get is having an impact on people’s lives,” she said. “I go see underprivileged kids, inspire them, tell them there’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it. They’re hearing it from Angela Rae, ‘that lady on TV.’ Let’s face it: If I were just another attorney, they wouldn’t remember me.” Jon Rizzi writes for New York Lawyer , where this story first appeared.

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