Education / Schools, Elena Kagan, Law Schools, Romance and Dating, Weddings

Read This or Die Alone: Advice for the Young Women of Law School

Too bad Princeton doesn’t have a law school.

I don’t want to alarm you, but this is going to be bad news for some of you — possibly even a lot of you. The last few days have been tough for all of us. Emotional. Controversial. Traumatic, even. News like this comes along once, maybe twice, in a lifetime. Obviously, I’m referring to the treatise that was recently released in Princeton University’s student newspaper, the Daily Princetonian, in the form of a letter to the editor addressed to “the young women of Princeton.”

The author of this editorial, noted socio-anthropological scholar divorced former housewife and Princeton alum, Susan A. Patton, caused quite a stir when she implored — nay, demanded — that the young women of Princeton “find a husband on campus before you graduate” because “for most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.” She then drove the point home by noting that she recently completed a “horrible” divorce, after 27 years of marriage, to a man whose “academic background was not as luxurious as mine, and that was a source of some stress.” Indeed.

Susan A. Patton, while I admire your grammar, I have to respectfully disagree with you. Because you failed to cite one obvious point: Even if a young lady has managed to escape the wilds of New Jersey without nailing down a trip to Zales, she still has one more shot: law school. Well, let’s be clear — a T14 law school….

Now, OK, here’s the point where some of you may be feeling some pain. If you’re single right now and still in law school, don’t fully panic yet, there may actually be hope for you. But if you’re single right now and have already graduated from law school, apologies, but I regretfully invite you to kill yourself. Because clearly you’re not going to be invited to do anything else any time soon. Anything worthwhile, at least. Like wearing an engagement ring.

What, this sounds harsh? Insane? Sociopathic, even? Oh, I’m sorry, when did YOU graduate from Princeton? Do you even know anyone from New Jersey?

Look, I don’t know why you went to law school, but I went because I didn’t have the calves to be a model and medical school seemed way too long. Yes, there was all that reading, which admittedly does nothing for the crows’ feet and that little crease between the eyebrows. But, after missing my shot at a ring in undergrad, what was I supposed to do? Get a “job” and “support myself”? Try to meet a future husband through friends? By the time I graduated college, I was already twenty-one years old. Twenty-one. If I waited any longer, the only guys who’d want me would be divorced dads and aspiring ex-cons. Enter law school.

But let me caution you, friends, there are traps once you’re there — traps that distract you from keeping your eye on the prize. Not everyone in law school has her priorities straight. By way of example, let me tell you the story of a lady of a certain age whom I’ll call “Elena.” She went to Princeton undergrad. While at Princeton, she spent most of her time wearing pants and “studying” and not, as Susan A. Patton cautioned, honing the cornerstone of her future and happiness by focusing on dating fellow Princeton students. She graduated. No ring.

Then, giving herself one more chance, she went to law school — a good one, too! Did she take that opportunity to make up for lost time and nab a husband at law school? Or did she focus on things like writing interminable legal papers and using words that end in “-ism” in conversation? You can guess the answer. She’s now in her 50s and still unmarried. If she had taken Susan A. Patton’s advice, and hadn’t spent all that time batting at all those so-called feminist windmills like “goals” and “independence” at the expense of the truly important things in Susan A. Patton’s life, she might not have wasted her life. She might have dated this guy or even this guy — both eligible Princetonians — and gone on to live a long, happily married life with a man like these two, who clearly respect and value the intelligent women they married. But no. Last I heard, Elena wound up working as a civil servant. A civil servant. If that doesn’t send a shudder down your spine, ladies, then I don’t know if you’re even human.

So take heed, friends — but more importantly, take my advice and please, please learn to listen to the right people when it comes to valuing not only yourself, but also the opportunities given to you by your education. If you don’t, who knows where you might end up.

Good luck out there.


The Legal Tease is a lawyer and writer in NYC and the founder of Sweet Hot Justice. Her writing has been featured in the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Above the Law, California Lawyer Magazine, and a few fancy academic and trade journals for lawyer types. Feel free to follow her on Twitter or contact her by email.

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