"Do you like being a lawyer?"
The amount of times I get asked this by people is resounding. Over the past four years (the length of time in which I have been an attorney) the answer has evolved, or should I say-devolved-progressively.
"Sure, I do." it began. Not the typical exuberant, "newly admitted attorney" response, but I've always been a realist. Then it slid into, "I like being a lawyer, but just don't like the type of law I practice." Though, to be fair who could be truly passionate about securities and investment fraud? But even after ditching the boring financial field, the answer was still, "it's alright." And as of late, I've become known around my office as the one who says, "I should have been a P.E. teacher."
I've known I wanted to be a lawyer since I was six years old. Yea, I was that kid. I graduated high school at 16 and went straight to college where I was a, you guessed it, Pre-Law major where I also served as Vice President to the Pre-Law Society. After four years of that I went to law school, which were truly three of the best years of my life. However, in true Hermione Granger fashion, I wasn't satisfied just going to school, no, no. I also worked at the library on campus, did Moot Court, Trial Team, wrote for a legal Journal and even served a semester as President of the Intellectual Property Society. I mean, my God, have you ever known anyone more eager to be a damn lawyer?
And yet, here I stand. Four years after achieving my dream of being an attorney in a big city and complacent as fuck about it.
The other night I saw a film about a lawyer. Now, generally speaking when I get home from a long day at Court/the office, the last thing I want to do is watch or read shit about the law or other lawyers. But this young lawyer's name happens to be Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and the movie is called On the Basis of Sex.
If you haven't seen the movie, see it. If you haven't seen the trailer click here because this isn't a movie review. What I will say; however, is this. The film revolves around a young and not-yet notorious, RBG, on her struggle to fight and overcome sex discrimination. The movie is inspirational on many levels, but to me it struck a personal chord. Specifically, there is a pivotal scene where Ruth is delivering her first oral argument at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. She begins to state historical facts regarding the inability of women to participate in a large number of careers, including the law. "100 years ago," she states, "I would not be able to stand before you as I do today."
Of course, the real RBG went on to crush her oral argument and the landmark case of Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue came to be, setting the first precedent for gender equality throughout the nation including the case of Reed v. Reed, the first Supreme Court case to discuss the issue of gender equality, the appeal brief of which was also authored by Ruth.
The film concludes dramatically with fake Ginsberg (Felicity Jones) becoming the real Ruth Bader Ginsberg walking up the steps of the Supreme Court, rocking a pretty fabulous blue suit, I might add.
And it hit me. I have the privilege of working in a field that women 100 years ago could not. I have the ability to do something women for decades wished they could. I am literally living in the spoils of other women's labor. Each time I roll my eyes or groan about the work I do, I am doing it in the face of generations of suffragettes, protesters, housewives, and mothers, all of whom knew their capabilities but were literally unable to do anything about it.
This Saturday, January 19, is the Women's March in Washington D.C. and in sister cities around the nation. I encourage everyone to march this year. Not because they are angry with our current political climate. Not because they want a chance to say #metoo. But because they can. And the reason they can is because it is what women have been doing for decades now. We have seen injustice and inequality and we have stood up and done something about it. I believe we have just begun to scratch the surface of equality in our society and I urge you to not let the treasure beneath the ground go undiscovered. As Ruth Bader Ginsberg (almost) said, "we will not settle for tokens".
As for my personal struggle with my career, yes there will be hard days. Many of them. And yes my hair will likely grey by the time I'm 30. But I can assure you, thanks to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the next time someone asks what I do, I'll hold my head high and answer with a resounding: "I'm a lawyer."
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a trial to prep for.
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