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When Mom Disses Your Work

Vivia Chen

October 15, 2010


Don't even think about ditching your legal career--unless you know you'll be supersuccessful in your dream pursuit. Because if you're not, your mom--especially if she's (forgive the stereotype) Asian--will come after you. And she'll probably be reminding you of that Big Mistake for the rest of your life.

That's what Eddie Huang, a former Chadbourne & Parke associate turned hip-hop chef, has been experiencing since The New York Times gave his too-cool restaurant XiaoYe a mediocre review. Reviewer Sam Sifton calls the Taiwanese eatery, "an artful misfire: the sort of place that . . . is really only best when the customers are a little drunk, a little high, maybe both, and in any event extremely hungry." (Check out Salon.com for Huang's defiant reaction to the review.)

As if it weren't humiliating and painful enough to get publicly panned by the leading paper in town, Huang's mother used the review as an opportunity to rebuke her son. "So what do you think about this review[?]," she asks rhetorically in her e-mail to him (which he recently posted on his blog). Then she answers her own question, "I feel it is a review of your life."

Ouch. A poor restaurant rating as "a review of your life"? Guess she's just trying to tell her son that he's not cutting it:

The vast majority of public will give us a score that we deserve. You have so many different fabulous talents, but to focus, and to perfect it is very crucial. No matter what career you explore, there always going to deal with: discipline, honest hard work, social skills, leadership ON TOP OF YOUR PERSONAL TALENTS.

Your talents will not shine or truly succeed until you have satisfied the basics that other competitors have already.

After reminding him how he never really listens, Huang's mom gets to the main point--namely, why would such a smart boy quit law to go into that messy, stinky business. She sets up her argument: "Restaurant business is a very very tedious business, and requires on going detailed watching." Then she piles it on:

I do not see much difference in the stress levels compare to other choice of career, but much less money rewards. Trust me, you much keep your bar license active just in case you need it.

So this is mom's lesson to all you dreamers out there: When you get all this foolishness out of your system, go back to practicing law. You will make more money, regain your respectability, and make mom happy. Got it?

 Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.


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I think Eddie Huang got the last laugh here.

Good advice.


A common failing of many Asian parents. No matter how old you get, they still know what buttons work best to manipulate you....

Ouch. And to be rebuked with such poor grammar, on top of it all!

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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: VChen@alm.com

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