parens binubus

more than you want to know about a law school graduate/bar examinee who is also raising two children and doing her best at being a partner to her love.

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  • Thursday, June 29, 2006
    Fringes
    ** Yes, I committed a faux pas in deleting a post that sat very poorly with me after I published it - here is a condensed/toned down version of the main ideas.

    This summer, I'm working at a very large and reputable firm. There are two ways in which my experience differs from most of my colleagues: age (life station) and academic credentials.

    1) I'm old. I am the third or fourth oldest of the summers -- but what I think distances me more from my colleagues is the fact that I have kids. It is more than just the summers, too. The associates who spend the most time with summers are the newbies, and I'm older than approx. 99% of them as well. Many women have come to me for ideas on how to balance kids and work. B/c what is my past is their future. Sometimes, it makes me feel like a real fringe person. If we go around the table with our ages at lunch (which happens more often than you'd think), people's eyes pop out of their sockets. I am often told (today at lunch, for example), that I do not look 34 - that people would guess me in my mid-20's. So their surprise is even more evident when they find out I'm 34.

    The age/life experience difference does affect my willingness to participate in the 20-something activities. I can't/don't want to keep up with the constant drinking activities. I'd rather be home - with Beloved (and the girls while they were home) than out getting shit-faced.

    So other than the formal firm-organized events, I've mostly sat out. This also makes me (or reinforces that i am) a fringe person.

    2) My school. The fact that I go to a lower ranked law school has been a topic of discussion a few times on this blog. I have talked about my reasons for attending this school, and about my experiences. I have pointed out to some that despite the lower ranking, I'm doing rather well for myself. But the effects are still felt - even with the big firm summer position.

    While there is a chance that overt discrimination toward my school (and me by extension) exists from some who are Ivy students/graduates, I do not believe it is prevalent. Perhaps there is a raising of an eyebrow, or a glazing over of the eyes - but it goes away very quickly. People can see that I am capable of complete sentences, and that my conversation exhibits the fact that i can (and do) read. Beyond the initial "and where do YOU go to school?" and its reaction - I feel very little effect.

    however, there is the networking factor. I do not have the same pool of loyal comrades that those from the top 10 schools, which are very well represented, have at this firm.

    Again - I believe this is (and has been) surmountable. When I felt that I wasn't getting enough work, I saw this as a possible reason. And I made phone calls, and contacted people I knew, and I got myself some work. I have been working with partners and associates who have prestige dripping off their resumes, and we are more than evenly matched, and have very strong working relationships established already.

    So while I believe that my school may force me to put forth more effort, i do not believe it has a devestating effect. It is not a non-factor ... but it is not a death knell, either.

    It is just enough, however, to make me feel like a fringe person.
    posted by Zuska @ 8:33 PM  
    3 Comments:
    • At Friday, June 30, 2006 1:21:00 AM, Blogger Yorick said…

      I think another good question is why so many lawyers and associates are drawn to being intoxicated.

      As politically incorrect as it is, I like to compare drinking to driving a car. I like to speed around the curves a bit and feel the rush of the wind, but I don't enjoy crashing into trees and waking up covered in vomit.

       
    • At Friday, June 30, 2006 9:35:00 PM, Blogger Zuska said…

      Actually - it's not the lawyers (associates) who are engaging in the drinking activities. it is for the most part, the summers, and even more narrowly - those who live out of town, spending the summer here. The firm itself has a reputation of being a "grown up firm" - and actually targets those who are settled (i.e., married or engaged).

      So I think this is a temporary thing - the wild summer, I suppose.

       
    • At Saturday, July 01, 2006 10:10:00 AM, Anonymous Citations said…

      That is one aspect of next summer I'm really not looking forward to, being a fringe person myself. And if someone has the nerve to ask me how old I am, I may very well give them the disdainful raised eyebrow -- and earn myself the label of wicked witch AND old.

      But you seem to handle the situation with grace and wisdom. Hang in there.

       
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