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Ladies Who Lunch

Vivia Chen

May 12, 2011

Fancy hats "I just couldn't stomach another angry women's conference," whispered a lawyer who was playing hooky from her job. "So I sneaked out, and here I am!"

We were sipping champagne cocktails last week under the flower-bedecked tent at the annual spring benefit for the Central Park Conservancy. Popularly known as the "Ladies Hat Luncheon," it was a splashy affair, featuring New York's social elites and those who aspire to be, wearing some sensational, if not riotous, millinery creations.

It's not often that lady lawyers cross paths with the ladies who lunch. But for a few hours, we mingled with the Page Six crowd--those gals who wouldn't dream of wasting away at some office, poring over documents.

We were the guests of a Fortune 500 lawyer, who personally hosted one of the coveted tables, which included an assortment of Am Law 100 and in-house lawyers, plus other working gals. (Interestingly, Sullivan & Cromwell, Boies Schiller, and Skadden Arps were listed as sponsors of the event, though I didn't see any of their lawyers. Were they too serious for such frivolity or were they intimidated by the frou-frou hats?)

Curious about whether there were other lawyers under those fanciful hats, I approached several tables, asking if there was a lawyer among them. Mostly, the women looked confused--if not a tad insulted--by my question. Oh well.

But as the luncheon concluded, there was no doubt where everyone fit in the social order: The ladies who really lunch got into their waiting cars and migrated to the Carlyle, Swifty's, or some other posh watering hole for the afternoon, while the rest of us schlepped back to the office.

In any case, below are scenes from the luncheon. Can you guess which ones are the lawyers?





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   Martha Stewart



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If you have photos of lawyers at this luncheon, please send them to VChen@alm.com.

Photos: Courtesy of Central Park Conservancy and V. Chen


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I have never seen a lawyer waste away at the office. Rather, we seem to get plumper.

Of course, despite the obvious talent drain whereby women who could make good lawyers choose to have a life of lunches, the remaining pool of women who are stuck being lawyers expect to make as much money as guys.

And where are the guys who lunch, pray tell? I hardly ever have an opportunity to wear my hat!

I always wanted to be a lady that lunched, sigh. Instead I'm a lawyer.

Cute hat, Vivia!

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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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