by Sarah Dubinsky
I am the keeper of the files. When my partner stands before a courtroom, a government committee, or a media event, I firmly slip him the documents needed to impress. Such a seamless act has been learned by junior associates longer tread than I in law firm ways. But I, at the law firm of Biggest, Bigger, and Big (BBB), take pride in my silent support. It does not degrade my $100k law school education. I know my legal journey starts as second chair.
As the client and partner pump ahead, I mindfully tend the files. I do not engage for fear of reminding the client, my rate alone is $240 an hour and he has little power to alter that. And I walk carefully but swiftly even though the pantyhose chafes the edge of my size 14 skirt as I try to keep two steps behind the 6’4″ partner who is ruddy from a day at the club.
My pace is a challenge as my legs are short and my feet are crooked in their orthopedic shoes. Worse, there are potholes in this urban Mecca that disjoint my wheeled cart, which carries my partner’s briefcase and a file crate. It is bound by nylon ratchet straps that match his navy blue loafers. But I won’t phase. With laser like focus, I will not allow these files to be distressed. Even though in BBB’s city, the traffic lights fail in the crosswalks, frequently leading to some inconsistency, jostling, and an occasional death.
Per usual, after the hearing, the client slips away in a limousine as my partner finesses out a larger compromise from the mayor’s council. Too late for a cab, we walk the six blocks to the office over urban streets.
It rains. I fold my jacket dutifully over the files. And then it pours. My partner looks at me strangely for a moment and opens an umbrella.
“I would share,” He says. “But my suit is silk.”
And I limply envision what my resume will look like the next day.