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In Nora's Words

Vivia Chen

June 28, 2012

                                                 Nora Ephron, 1941  -  2012

NoraEphron ©David-Shankbone

"This is the season when a clutch of successful women—who have it all—give speeches to women like you and say, to be perfectly honest, you can't have it all. Maybe young women don't wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don't be frightened: You can always change your mind. I know: I've had four careers and three husbands."

                                                                         Commencement speech, Wellesley College, 1996

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Any female attorney who thinks she can have it didn't graduate w/$150k in debt at the bottom of a tier 4 law school class making less than 1/3 of the total debt amount. Unless she has a spouse or domestic partner doing really well. I wouldn't know.

We can have it all. I do have it all. I have two sucessful, happy, fulfilled daughters, one of whom is a new lawyer (with a Big Law job starting in October), a successful relationship, many friends, hobbies, and a tremendously satisfying and lucrative law practice. Yes, I work very hard, but I play hard, too. Ephron is right: it's not a relaxed life, but that is my choice. No offense, but if you think you can't have it all, you are defining "all" wrong.


Posted by: Elle |

I think you can have it all - but not at the same time. Part of the complication is deciding when you will have what. Women can have more than one dream, just like any man out there. But we all have to hit the wall of reality - you cannot write a last minute brief at the same time you are soothing a teething baby. Which goal are you going for right now and which will have to wait? The wonderful thing is that you get to choose - so choose wisely.
Get creative - work part-time, hire a nanny, job share, start your own law firm or join a virtual law firm. What is going to work for you?

You can't have it all. That's why she had three husbands. Every woman has to make choices about what will offer her the most satisfaction in her life - work, husband, children, other family, hobbies. It's working toward a society that allows a woman to make her choice without being judged that matters. As for men, I haven't met any of them that get to have it all either.

Thanks, Vivia, for finding this gem.

Thank you!

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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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