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5 Red Hot Career Tips I Got from Amy Coney Barrett

Vivia Chen

October 19, 2020


Ready for my takeaways from the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings? Don’t roll your eyes. This will be fun.

Don’t worry, I’m not getting into the weeds about her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Who cares whether her answers were evasive on abortion, immigration rights, the Affordable Care Act, gun control, gay marriage, presidential pardons, yada yada? OK, so she was even noncommittal about Griswold v. Connecticut and whether birth control should be legal.

Does any of it matter?

We basically know how she’ll rule on those measures, so why analyze her answers to death? So call your OB/GYN, stock up on your favorite birth control pills and kiss all that liberal/progressive stuff goodbye.

But just because you disagree with Barrett on most issues doesn’t mean she can’t be your role model. I mean, keep an open mind about what we can learn from the next Supreme Court justice.

Besides displaying her razor-sharp legal mind during the hearings, Barrett offered critical fashion/style tips that every woman can use. Hey, if she can use these tools to get to the Supreme Court, why shouldn’t you deploy them in your career?

Here are my five takeaways from Barrett’s confirmation hearing:

Tip #1: Wear pink.

You can bring home the bacon, fry it in the pan and serve on the highest court in the land, but you should never, never let folks 'em you’re a W-O-M-A-N! And what says that better than a series of outfits in luscious shades of raspberry and pink?

On her first day of confirmation, she donned a fetching rose-colored dress. (Mere coincidence that the color bore a striking resemblance to “The Handmaid’s Tale” costumes?) Then, on the second day, it was a two-piece bouclé  outfit with three-quarter sleeve (Jackie Kennedy, circa 1962?) in an even brighter shade of orange red; on the third day, it was a lavender/pink/blue tweed suit paired with a lilac-colored ruffle-collared (homage to RBG?) shirt. On at least two of those days, Barrett also wore pink pumps.

Tip #2: Let your hair down.

Ever notice how many women in high positions typically have short, bobbed hair? Certainly, all the female Supreme Court justices thus far have had efficient haircuts. Well, Barrett is letting her hair down—a much softer, feminine look.

Tip #3: Act like a Girl Scout. (Irony not appreciated.)

I’m sure Barrett didn’t enjoy being lectured to by the Dems (she probably didn’t care either because she knew Republicans had the votes). And bless her heart for keeping a straight face when Sen. Ted Cruz unctuously praised her mothering skills (“Your children are amazingly well-behaved!”). I wouldn’t have been able to contain my snark. But Barrett sailed through it all as if she took each comment and question seriously. She conveyed the whole Girl Scout package: earnestness, politeness, respect for authority, etc.

Tip #4: Always remind people you’re a mom.

It’s like Barrett memorized all the points of what ambitious women shouldn’t do: Don’t be blatantly career-oriented; don’t be threatening; and, most of all, don’t be unlikeable.

Instead, talk about how work isn’t everything. At the Rose Garden ceremony when she was introduced, Barrett said, “There is a tendency in our profession to think that law is all-consuming”—which she called “shallow.” She also said that when she renders an opinion, “I ask myself how I would rule if one of my children were a party.”

And when you do talk about your kids—which you should do often, especially if you might be perceived as a threatening careerist—always do it with a beatific smile, like Barrett did when she lovingly described each of her seven kids.

Tip #5: Don’t be Brett.

Some things only a man can get away with. Remember how Brett Kavanaugh had a hissy fit on national TV during his confirmation hearings? He ranted, he cried and he made threats, calling the hearings a “national disgrace,” denouncing Democrats, the left, the Clintons, Trump haters and specters of the Deep State.

If Barrett or any woman behaved like that, she’d be carted out of the Senate in a straight jacket. Luckily, Barrett is a cool cucumber, though her appointment is arguably more controversial and consequential. Really, getting hysterical is only something we’d excuse in a man.

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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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