Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Don’t read this if you’re a couple of months into law school and you constantly raise your hand, practically yell out answers, and feel certain you’re going to ace every test, make law review, and become the first female nameplate partner at some major New York firm. You don’t need my help. No, this is for those of you who have found yourself gravitating toward the back bench. It’s for those of you who are wondering whether you’re sharp enough to hack it, those of you who, despite the fact that you swore you were past this, are letting the men do the talking. Still reading? Here’s my advice: RAISE YOUR HAND It still happens. I see it every fall. Intelligent, confident women walk into law school classrooms and their desire to speak instantly evaporates. Law school is scary … we’ve been conditioned not to … Yes, there are reasons. Overcome them. Raise your hand. Women ask brilliant questions after class all the time. Ask them in class. Someday (soon) you’ll have to present your ideas in the boardroom or the courtroom, where it matters. Hell, this is just law school. Speak up now. RAISE YOUR SIGHTS You get your first set of grades, and they’re so-so (most people’s are, which explains the concept of the median). Your classmates start landing sweet firm jobs. Who needs it? you ask yourself. Who wants it? I don’t plan to go on the partner track; at some point, I’ll probably have kids and work part time. Don’t settle. Almost 25 years after the fact, I’m still introduced as the first female president of the Harvard Law Review. Go out for law review. Or moot court. Or work for a professor. Think well of yourself. Every time the law review deal gets mentioned, I’m proud of it. No matter how hard I work for the rest of my life, no matter what I do or don’t accomplish, I’ll always have that. There’s time to settle later. Do your best now. RUN IN PACKS Real differences exist in the way women are treated in law school. The best way to understand them — and to figure out how to deal with them — is to get together with other women and talk about them. When I was in school, our women’s support group cleverly named itself the Women’s Support Group, and we met at the bar where I worked in Somerville. Sometimes we talked about gender bias at school and how to overcome it; sometimes we talked about our career goals and how we might achieve them; sometimes we talked politics; sometimes we just drank. Whatever we did, we did it together, and through some magic — a magic you owe it to yourself to feel — it mattered. Here’s something else that matters: Most of you will be rich or powerful (or both) someday. The bonds you forge now will lead to opportunities down the road. CHANGE SOMETHING It’s not a game of gotcha. You can always catch decent people doing and saying stupid things. That’s not the goal. When you think about what battles to fight, ask yourself, Will this bring about real change? Here’s a cause to consider: Push for more female professors at your school. Send a letter from your support group to the dean of faculty asking what’s being done to identify and hire the best female professors available. Then volunteer as a group to help in the search. Why bother? Because you’ll help a fellow woman. Because it’s good karma. Because women (and men) need female role models. Because women make up half of the population and half of the law students — but just 30 percent of the law professors. GO EASY ON YOURSELF Here’s the truth: I sat in the back row. For three years, I hardly ever raised my hand. I let my moot court partner — a man — speak for me. I changed a few things, but not many. So go easy on yourself when you find that you can’t follow this sage advice. I couldn’t. Do what you can, and forgive yourself the rest. Maybe you’ll be the president of law review. Maybe you’ll be the first female nameplate partner at some major New York firm. You’ll definitely enjoy the next three years.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.