Sunday, October 23, 2005

Eye for an eye

The other day, on advice from a lawyer at my firm, I met with a professor at my school, J. J has given me the only truly awesome grades I've ever gotten in law school and always seemed to like and respect me as a human being. He showed some true kindness to me once, when I lost a journal election and was bawling in the hallway, locked out of the office. He brags nonstop about prominent people in his field being friends of his, so I thought that meeting with him might not be such a bad idea.

Wrong.

In addition to acting completely put-upon and annoyed that I was wasting his time, he informed me within the first couple minutes that he was also wasting mine because there's just nothing he can do. He has no "magic silver bullet" and is not a "clearinghouse" for jobs, matching them up with his star pupils. He made a point of mentioning that he spends 15 hours a day at school and knows fewer people in NY now than he did when he first moved here because he has just become such an antisocial workaholic. Fine. Sorry. But as if acknowledging the fact that he wouldn't help me wasn't enough to ruin my morning (considering I had woken up early to get to school to meet with him that day), he had to add a little insult to injury in typical law professor fashion.

"You need to make it clear to people that you are ready and willing to work, and that you want the job. But there is a fine line. You can't seem desperate and you have a tendency to come across as overly emotional. You do know that."

Faced with little alternative response, I swallowed and said, "Yes."

"Now, I know that you are an incredibly resilient person and that you aren't fragile. But emotional people come across as fragile, and while some people may well think, 'She is a smart person and a fun person to be around,' others may conclude that you are just too fragile to do what you want to do."

Thanks. I had thought that I had basically gotten away with the crying in the hallway incident, but some memories last longer than others, I suppose, even the memories of him calling on me in class every day for a year and always getting the question right.

I can't win: I am totally sure that some of the lawyers I worked with this summer would come to the opposite conclusion, since I had told myself at the beginning of the summer to keep everything 100% professional.

Not to be all feminist here, but this is the fucking problem that women always face: you are either a cold bitch or an emotional, overwrought, unreasonable and delicate flower who couldn't possibly hack it in the man's world of litigation. You know what? I think most people who know me would agree that I am tough as nails. If I litigated a case and lost, I would shut up and take it like a man while in public - and then cry like a baby the minute I got into a room by myself. That is what makes me a HUMAN BEING and not a robot. But I guess I should already know that the law doesn't value people at all...and the fact that I'm on the precipice of entering a profession where people who can suppress all human instincts and emotions get ahead should be a red flag, right?

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