The West Wing, one of television’s most celebrated dramas, ended its run six years ago this month. But in the hearts of many lawyers, the West Wing lives on, as the stuff of dreams.
Working in the West Wing of the White House — in proximity to the President of the United States, on the most important issues of the day — is why many people go to law school. [FN1] But the vast majority of them never come close to making that dream a reality.
How can you land a job in the West Wing? Here’s the story of how one lawyer did it. And she didn’t even have to toil that long in the Biglaw salt mine….
Say hello to Rachana “Ruchi” Bhowmik, who just stepped down as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Cabinet Secretary at the White House. If her last name sounds familiar, it should; she’s the sister of Shonali Bhowmik, the lawyer turned indie rock musician whom we profiled last week.
How did Ruchi Bhowmik make her way to the White House? After graduating from an elite college and top law school, she did a brief stint at a law firm (less than a year). Then she made the jump to the world of policy and politics, as she explains to Spencer Mazyck of Bloomberg Law:
There’s certainly a fair amount of luck involved in making it to the West Wing. Bhowmik was lucky enough to work with Barack Obama back when he was a senator (and it sounds like she misses how accessible he was back in his pre-POTUS days). At the same time, people “make their own luck”; Bhowmik was smart and hardworking enough to land a job with Senator Obama, and shrewd enough to hitch her wagon to his star.
We congratulate Ruchi Bhowmik on her fantastic career, thank her for her many years of government service, and wish her the best of luck in her new position in the private sector. She earned six figures while at the White House, but her job in corporate America should pay her much more. And if Bhowmik makes it home in time for dinner with her daughters, good for her — she has certainly earned it!
[FN1] The West Wing is also why a lot of people go to Debevoise & Plimpton, which featured prominently on the show. Josh Lyman’s father was said to be a partner there, and Joe Quincy was holding Debevoise as his “fallback option.”
Stealth Lawyer: Ruchi Bhowmik, Deputy Cabinet Secretary [Bloomberg Law via YouTube]