Would His Girlfriend Work There?

Would His Girlfriend Work There?

I met a smart, engaging young man at a tweet-up the night before the Texas Women Lawyers annual conference in Houston last Friday. He’s a future litigator, in his final year of law school. Amongst other things, he told me that he won’t accept an offer from the big-law firm he worked at last summer.

Because his girlfriend wouldn’t work there.

Do tell, I urged him.

Said girlfriend is also a lawyer, just out of law school. Her mom is a lawyer, too, with the same horror story that all women-lawyers-of-a-certain-age tell about trying to get their first job. “There’s a reason,” he explained, “that my girlfriend’s initials are ERA.”

Anyway, he described this firm as the kind of place where “the partners had married their secretaries.” And, he added, he’d like to work at a place where he could share with his girlfriend the stories he’d heard at work that day. Obviously, the stories he did hear weren’t repeatable to a professional woman with the initials ERA.

My two immediate thoughts: First, why don’t these dinosaur law firms understand the obvious? Second, it’s these kind of enlightened young men with ambitious girlfriends, wives, and daughters who will be mission-critical to achieving real gender-equity in the workplace.

As he took his leave, I said good-bye feeling quite a bit more optimistic than usual.

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