Clearly, you have lots of self-loathing. Otherwise, you would be a stay at home mom.

"If I had wanted to get rich, I would never in a million years have gone to law school. I would have gone to business school or pursued a career on Wall Street."

I agree completely. Non-lawyers never seem to understand this concept. Sales is where the money is!

"I would never dream of thinking that law is a superior calling to any other, but it is a calling that I am proud of and that I think is right for me."

I agree with this concept also.

"I think this is the area where I can best harness my energy and talents in order to make some sort of contribution to my community."

This interests me. Are you making a contribution to your community by working for a big firm for rich clients?

Your hubby is clearly making a contribution to his community. But are you? (I am not saying that you are not, but I would like to understand how you feel about it.)


I couldn't agree more. I *love* my job, and my chosen field, and am having real difficulties with society's message that those feelings should be put aside so I can concentrate on children and housework. Just, I'm sure, as someone who wants to prioritise childcare and housework feels about society's messages about the low value of those activities.

The Happy Feminist

First, I should make clear that I don't only work for rich clients. My case load at the moment consists of about 15% plaintiff's cases for poor clients (although the firm would get a contingency fee), 40% defending police departments and towns on civil rights claims, 40% representing companies in commercial disputes, and 5% pro bono divorce (ugh) cases for poor clients.

And yes, I see value in each category of cases. My plaintiffs are often the underdogs who have been screwed over in some way and we are working to get them some measure of justice. My police officers are often the victims of unjustified lawsuits by disgruntled defendants. (And yeah, I know, I know, the cops aren't always wearing the white hats.) My commercial clients need my help to resolve contract disputes that are hampering their ability to do business and be productive. And my pro bono cases are poor people who just need help from someone who knows the system.

I think law is about fairness, and I think EVERY category of client deserves fairness, even the rich clients and the institutional clients. I can help try to ensure that.

My husband felt the same way when he worked at BIGLaw representing insurance companies on coverage issues.


"My husband felt the same way when he worked at BIGLaw representing insurance companies on coverage issues."

Is every lawyer performing a service for their community? Arent there jobs that are "better" than others?

I am not trying to pick on you. I think it is an interesting question for lawyers to contemplate it. And I think many of us constantly think about it.

I got out of insurance defense work because I felt like I wasnt helping people. I didnt get enjoyment from it. The moment of epiphany came when I won a case for a new insurance client and she just raved about how much my father helped her with her pregnancy. He had such a positive impact on her at a difficult time in her life. Maybe it was selfish, but I wanted to have people feel the same way about me.

That is why I enjoy domestic work. People are at their lowest point in their lives. They need someone to guide them. (And no, the word "guide" isnt code for "take their money.")

The Happy Feminist

I should clarify that the only reason I put "ugh" after my reference to my divorce cases is that divorce is not really my forte.

I tend not to think that there are legal jobs that are morally superior to others. After all, our legal system is predicated on the notion that we are all equal before the law and that we all deserve some measure of fairness and justice. That having been said, however, those who represent the poor are gaining less materially from doing so than I am in my practice. So lawyers for the poor are in a sense GIVING more because they are not being compensated for their work.

There is certainly something to be said for having the feeling that your job has an impact on people personally, which isn't a feeling you're going to get in insurance defense. But I do get that feeling at times even with my police and commercial clients -- because there are real people involved in those cases. The police officers care deeply about their credibility and not wanting to be shown to have done something wrong. And commercial clients are comprised of human beings who have built businesses and are personally invested in the success or failure of their business ventures.

I also think that there is value to be had in keeping a law firm up and running. When I first went into the private sector, I thought the entrepreneurial aspect would be off-putting. But I was incredibly impressed at what the partners at my 30-attorney firm had built. By building their business they provided opportunities and jobs for scores of young attorneys, paralegals, and secretaries in the community. It's a little different at BIGLaw, where I have walked into a ready-made factory, but BIGLaw provides opportunities too, and my marketing, administrative and legal work helps keep it up and running.

The Happy Feminist

Oh -- I also want to make clear that I don't discount the advantages of making a healthy salary. I certainly take pleasure in my paycheck and I certainly would not be averse to making more. But it's not my main motivator.


Ok. Small rant coming up :-)

I make a very good salary working in high tech. It's certainly not enough to allow me to vacation in Europe, or shop at "the best" places, but it's enough to pay my bills, keep the wolf from the door, and go out to dinner when I feel like it.

I've single parented since my son was 4. My ex husband chose not to pay child support, and nothing I, or the courts, did, made one whit of difference. So....after having been a SAHM for four years, I found myself faced with limited options. Work my ass off to make a living for myself and my child, r go on public assistance. No matter which choice I made, I was wrong. If I chose to go on public assistance, I was a lazy slut. If I chose to work my tail off, make a career for myself so I *could* support my son without assistance, I was a neglectful mother. No matter what I did was wrong.

So in the end, I did what felt right to me. And that was begin a career, then sit on it until my son was older, so that my hours would be limited. I spent four years sleeping on a sofa, living in a one bedroom basement apartment (my son got the bedroom). As he got older, I took on more career challenges. I didn't do it because I had a *vocation*...I did it because I wanted not to spend my life with a knot in my stomach every time I had to sit down to pay the bills. I did it because I had the intelligence and the aptitude for the work which was required, and I was, and remain *deeply* grateful for the opportunity. I worked my way up from answering phones and filing in a data security department to being a systems engineer. I work long, long hours....lawyers have nothing on me, HF ;-)

Finally, at 46, I was able to purchase my first home, and that only because I was injured badly, spent 7 years in and out of surgery after surgery, and received a settlement. I'm delighting in furnishing and decorating my home. Does this make me a materialistic person? Nope. It makes me someone who finally, after years of sacrifice on many levels, can have a few nice things. And if other people don't like that, they can kiss my butt in Macy's window, you know?

My son scored in the top 1% nationally when he took his PSATs, and had the second highest SAT score in his school. He isn't a drug addict, he isn't in jail, he has a lovely, sweet girlfriend....and tonight, they've chosen to spend their Saturday evening with me, eating pizza and watching a movie. Obviously, the choices I have made have not entirely destroyed his life.

When some snide twit (and oddly, these twits are usually women) chooses to dump on me for working hard, I'm afraid I have little patience. Any woman who tells you that her choices in life are *the right ones* and that she's never had a moment's doubt about that is either lying to you, herself, or both. And any parent who tells you *they* haven't made mistakes in raising their kids is lying too.

Rant over. For now, at least ;-)

Hamilton Bridey

"It never fails to amaze me how often I hear the argument that women who pursue careers are blindly materialistic." WOW. I'm in my late 30s and have NEVER heard this. Who are you hanging out with?


(((One often hears artists talking in terms of feeling compelled to paint or dance or write. ))

Artists and scientists seem to be the only ones who worry about getting enough work done before they die.


The Happy Feminist

Hamilton: Ha! This'll be one of those things: now that it's come to your attention, you'll hear it all the time!

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