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Scalia—Work/Life Balance Activist?

Vivia Chen

February 14, 2012

Justice_Scalia_©Diego_RadzinschiMy goodness, is U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia getting in touch with his feminine side? It's hard to believe, but this free marketer and proponent of traditionalism is voicing support for what women have been clamoring for: work/life balance.

During a recent speech at the University of Chicago Law School's Federalist Society meeting, Scalia dispensed some career advice to students, along with his views about the Constitution, reports The Chicago Sun Times. Though his talk about the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment sounded fascinating—and I'm not being facetious here—my job is to tell you what Scalia says about legal careers.

Here's what he advise law students, according to the Sun Times:

“Try to find a practice that enables you to maintain a human existence  . . . time for your family, your church or synagogue, community . . . Boy Scouts, little league,” Scalia said, noting he started with Jones Day in Cleveland. “You should look for a place like that. I’m sure they’re still out there. Maybe you have to go to Cleveland.”

Hmm—that "Maybe you have to go to Cleveland" line sounds like a veiled threat. It might also strike the good folks of that midwestern city as a bit patronizing. But you know Scalia—he's a wicked jokester.

In any case, Scalia goes on to say that his son Eugene has found his own little Garden of Eden in the world of big firms—and he didn't even have to step foot in Ohio! Instead, Eugene Scalia has managed to stay right in the center of action—in the Washington, D.C., office of a California firm.

“My son Gene went to Gibson, Dunn," Scalia told the audience. "Any big firm has the basic ethos of its head office, and if the head office is in La La Land, it’s gonna be a little laid-back.”

Gibson, Dunn laid-back? Well, I'm not sure most lawyers would agree. (Yo, Gene, are you really not that busy?)

As for the La La Land culture of the firm? Well, I guess it's sort of a compliment. Or some kind of an ironic commentary on a very straitlaced firm.

Of course, what Scalia didn't say is that being a Supreme Court justice is probably the best job of all. You have a nice schedule, groupies fawning at your feet, lifetime job security, plus you know you'll get a front-page obituary in The New York Times. Not even Gibson, Dunn can give you all those goodies.

Related post: Bloomberg Judge Hostile to Work/Life Balance?

Hat tip: ABA Blog

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I worked while men went home. Quit making this a male/female thing. Scalia didn't. Note also that baby making isn't the only thing he urged. He urged people to be involved in their communities, their churches.

If we want to get really snarky, Dirk, you could say a lot of women spend 18+ years subsidizing the one night of good times of a a guy. It takes two to make a baby.

His personal demeanor has little to do with his judicial temperament.

Ah, Vivia, again spreading the meme that guys are less interested in work/life balance than women.

Of course we are. However, since in order to win over women, most guys have to demonstrate financial success, since women enlist us in unnecessary domestic tasks, and since the government, in effect, taxes guys to pay for benefits overwhelmingly used by women, in essence, women force guys to subsidize the work/life balance of women at the expense of work/life balance for guys.

Good catch, Matt. Corrected. My bad.

Federal Society? Did you mean Federalist Society?

...and if this were Eugenie (Genie)...would her dad have the same sentiments...probably, yes. She does create the presence of parenthood...yes?

Justice Scalia is a lot warmer and fuzzier than opponents of his Constitutional views would have you believe. When Scalia was a "mere" Court of Appeals judge back in the '80s, he'd come down to UVA Law on weekends to teach an admin seminar. He'd often bring donuts. And he readily gave me a time extension on my seminar paper, saying that he routinely required an extension of time on his own written opinions.

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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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