Thursday, November 22, 2012

Women and Law

This is a really interesting post by Lawyers, Guns & Money.  There were so many factors contributing to my decision to leave law, primarily, obviously, that I wanted a different, specific career.  Whether the gender inequality in the reality of the profession (that played out in, oh, so many delightfully ugly ways) was one of them is hard for me to tease out, but it certainly didn't make staying more attractive.

Clearly, the fact that law schools have produced an enormous oversupply of people with law degrees over the course of the last generation has an extremely significant gender component. These statistics raise all sorts of questions, and in particular this one: To what extent has legal academia’s over-expansion depended on the exploitation of the career aspirations of women in particular? Note that there’s all sorts of evidence that egalitarian gender practices in regard to law school admissions have had a remarkably muted effect in regard to making law less of a male-dominated profession (For example, 35 years after women started going to law school in numbers not much smaller than men, 85% of the partners and 95% of the managing partners at large law firms are men). 
Have law schools managed to expand far beyond the actual economic demand for law degrees in large part because of an always unstated and usually unconscious assumption that comparatively large numbers of women law graduates would drop out of the profession within a few years of graduation? One of the very few longitudinal studies of law graduate career paths suggests strongly this is the case. This study of the University of Virginia Law School class of 1990 found that while, 17 years after graduation, 98.7% of the men who responded to the survey were working full-time, approximately 63% of the women respondents who had had at least one child were not practicing law full-time. (By contrast, there was literally no correlation between the number of children a man had had and the likelihood that he would be employed full-time).

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Acts of incompletion, acts of fragmentary insight, . . . a kind of joyous invitation to reread"

I was mugged a couple weeks ago in broad daylight, pepper sprayed for my stupid phone. 

Today, I walked alone on the street for the first time since it happened.  Only a block or two to a bookstore, but I was proud.  And I forced myself to focus on the cool night air and the exhilarating sense of being out in the early dark of a fall evening.  I bought a poem for 50 cents out of a gumball machine, Old Bones by Gary Snyder.  And I stood in the doorway, facing out into the night and read and reread.
The key issue here is the sense of what cannot be analyzed or explained. A major act of interpretation gets nearer and nearer to the heart of the work, and it never comes too near. The exciting distance of a great interpretation is the failure, the distance, where it is helpless. But its helplessness is dynamic, is itself suggestive, eloquent and articulate. The best acts of reading are acts of incompletion, acts of fragmentary insight, of that which refuses paraphrase, metaphrase; which finally say, “The most interesting in all this I haven't been able to touch on.” But which makes that inability not a humiliating defeat or a piece of mysticism but a kind of joyous invitation to reread. - George Steiner

Out there walking round, looking out for food,
a rootstock, a birdcall, a seed that you can crack
plucking, digging, snaring, snagging,
         barely getting by,

no food out there on dusty slopes of scree—
carry some—look for some,
go for a hungry dream.
Deer bone, Dall sheep,
         bones hunger home.

Out there somewhere
a shrine for the old ones,
the dust of the old bones,
         old songs and tales.

What we ate—who ate what—
         how we all prevailed.