Hey, you. Yes, YOU there, the one with the boobs. You’re a lawyer, right? Or some sort of Big Law type, at least? I figured. I could tell by the bewildered look on your face. I know, sweetie, I know: It’s confusing being a woman in and around Big Law these days. First, unless you have a time machine and a magic wand, it looks like you’re not making partner any time soon. Sorry. Then, of course, there’s the finding-a-long-term-sex-partner-who-doesn’t-require-batteries problem. And then, there’s the latest slap: Laminated scraps of “advice” from Citibank your employer about the stupid things that you do to sabotage your career, you (apparently) soft-spoken, smile-happy, invisible moron cow.
And the advice doesn’t stop there. You can’t even find a good glass ceiling to smack your head up against anymore without tripping over a stack of advice for women lawyers on everything from how to dress for success (Avoid nudity!), to how to toughen up (Sass those boys right back when they act rapey at the office!), to how not to look like a drowned clown corpse at work (Forget it, lost cause!).
At this point, I’m so bored with the heaps of so-called advice from other lawyers and professional counsel-givers that I had to turn to the one person I could think of whose advice never fails. The one person who knows what it’s like to carve out a niche for yourself in an often cruel, mystifying profession overrun by over-educated lunatics: My friend, Alanna.
I think you could learn a lot from her. Why? Because she’s never wrong.
And she’s a hooker…
First, let’s be clear, Alanna’s not your dime-store variety street whore. She’s a licensed prostitute working out of the Nevada brothels. In the slower seasons, she skips around the country, dancing in strip clubs and yes, performing in a porn or two. She’s not a drunk or a junkie and, whether or not you believe her, she claims to like the work — at least as much as any of you like your jobs, i.e. there are good days and bad days. (Granted, your bad days involve getting slammed with back-to-back closings, whereas hers involved getting slammed with… well, use your imagination.) Bottom line: Like it or not, she has a marketable set of skills, she’s proud of them, and she exploits them every chance she gets. In other words, she’s a businesswoman. A good one.
So, when I was telling her recently over Pinkberry about the latest litany of nonsense at my firm and how I—and every other associate I know, especially the female ones — feel trapped by our jobs, she shook her head and waved me off.
“Look, here’s how it is,” she said, “The hookers in Nevada are the business women, you know?”
“Sure.” No idea where she was going.
“Dancers, they’ve got a lifestyle,” she continued. “And porn stars, they’re just stupid.”
“Don’t you get it?” She looked at me like I’d just arrived on the short bus.
“Jeeesus,” she laughed, throwing down her Pinkberry spoon. “I’m saying don’t be a porn star, right? Or don’t be just a porn star, you know?” She picked her spoon back up and pointed it at me, grinning. “Horizontal integration is the best.”
As usual, Alanna nailed it. Horizontal integration indeed. If you take the hooker’s advice at face value — and you should — when you boil it down to basics, whether you’re selling sex or legal advice, the key to pervasive success is the same: Diversify — though not in the way you probably think.
Read more about putting your horizontal skills to maximum effect at Sweet Hot Justice.