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Naomi and Hugh Give Career Tips

Vivia Chen

August 23, 2010

GettyImages_1032472#13A7DA4 It's not often that a bad-girl supermodel and a geezer womanizer impart valuable lessons to lawyers. But why not? The Careerist, for one, believes in casting a wide net in the search for sage career advice.

The first lesson comes from the nasty-tempered, foul-mouthed Naomi Campbell, who recently upped the ante on what's considered stylish yet appropriate courtroom wear. The Daily Beast practically gushed about her appearance on the witness stand during the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor:

Wearing a crème-colored Azzedine Alaïa dress and matching sheer cardigan, she spoke of the now-famous incident in 1997 when she apparently received a pouch filled with what she described as "dirty-looking stones"—blood diamonds. Her hair was done in a beehive and her multimillion-dollar body clad in that simple yet perfectly form-fitting dress.

Nicely cut dress and beehive-do in the same paragraph as blood diamonds? Well, okay. I guess the point is that it's always good to look good, even if your testimony is lacking in credibility. (Campbell claimed that she didn't know Taylor was a dictator who funded his war with blood diamonds.)

But never mind all that substance stuff. What counts is your style quotient. So, note to women in courtrooms--both as witnesses and lawyers: Follow Naomi's lead. Go for that balance of "fashionable and proper, sexy and poised." Even if your case is a stinker, at least people will say you looked fabulous.

Now, some valuable life (and legal) lessons for the successful, older male lawyer who's still searching for love. If there's a Hugh Hefner (picture below) of the legal profession, my vote goes to Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz retired partner Peter McKenna, now 72. Not only did he marry a "European Playmate" nearly 30 years his junior, according to The National Law Journal, but he defeated her attempt to invalidate a prenuptial agreement after their divorce.

Hugh_Hefner_2007-1 I don't know if McKenna aspires to be Hefner, but there are striking parallels between the two. Like the founder of Playboy, McKenna has an appreciation for young, sexy things, and like Hugh, he doesn't let himself get too attached. And both men, it seems, never lose their business sense, despite the obvious distractions.

Though McKenna had a whirlwind romance with the "onetime model from Brazil who was working for an agency called European Playmates when the couple met in 1997," he apparently never stopped thinking like a lawyer. Not only did McKenna make wife number three sign a prenup, he triggered "the operative event" in the nick of time. (He notified her that he wanted to annul the marriage three days before their first anniversary, thereby voiding her right to a $50,000 payout.)

Other men in his situation would have happily given away the house (actually, several houses) to their young brides. McKenna's wife, however, ended up with practically nothing.

McKenna doesn't seem terribly sentimental or romantic, but he is very professional. And being a perfect professional--someone who won't let personal feelings, like love or lust, get in the way--is what we seek in a lawyer. No wonder Wachtell Lipton lawyers command such high rates.

So there you have it--glam role models for lawyers. Who says lawyers can only learn from the likes of Ben Heineman or Sandra Day O'Connor?

Related article: "Adulterous but Professional"

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? Email The Careerist's chief blogger Vivia Chen at [email protected].

Photos: Naomi Campbell/ Getty Images. Hugh Hefner/ Luke Ford.



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Isn't it important for men to look good? I don't understand :) A cute looking guy can achieve whatever a good looking gall can!

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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