Jessica settled in your mind, describe the
Jessica McClenahan Professor Ronald Lee Morris Law and Society 2360 22 September 2011 Learn the Law, Act the Law, Be the Law Sandra Day O’ Connor once stated, “The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender”. Lawyers are advocates of the law as well as advisors to their clients. Stereotypes are present in the law profession, and it is recognized as a man’s territory. Legally Blonde, a film directed by Robert Luketic, reveals the generalizations made about a blonde sorority girl pursuing a career in law.Sex does not determine the quality of a lawyer; their knowledge, performance and representation of the law reflects a lawyer’s potential. Gender discrimination exists in a lawyer’s world, and women are the victims. Women are affected in the legal career and academic world because of workplace expectations of masculinity and bias among male employers.
People perceive information in ways that conform to their stereotypes. Gary Blasi presents two exercises that help display how people think about gender and career: First, “try to imagine, in sequence, a baseball player, a trial lawyer, a figure skater, and a U.S. Supreme Court justice – without a specific gender or race. . .
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.” Did you succeed? Next, “try to imagine a carpenter. When you have that image settled in your mind, describe the color of her hair. ” Did you pause or do a double take? The purpose of these mental tasks is to prove that the mind views careers as gender specific.
Legally Blonde outlines the idea that women and men are divided as lawyers. Reese Witherspoon plays the role as an overly feminine woman attending Harvard Law School. James Read acts as Witherspoon’s father and states, “Law school is for people who are boring, and ugly, and…serious.And you, Button, are none of those things. ” Stereotypes are presented early on in the film.
Professor Callahan, played by Victor Garber, sexually harasses Witherspoon while asking her how far she will go to get what she wants in her career path. He’s insinuating that he will promote her if she engages in sexual affairs with him. After Witherspoon declines his offer, Garber says, “I thought you were a law student who wanted to be a lawyer.
” This defends the idea that women are disrespected and belittled in the legal line of work.Appearance is deceptive; the exterior is not always representative of the interior. Witherspoon states, “All people see when they look at me is blonde hair and big boobs.
” When Witherspoon arrived at Harvard Law School her look was an eyesore. A law student referred to her as Malibu Barbie. When she attempted to join a study group, another student said, “Maybe there’s a sorority you could join instead”. The final scene of the film demonstrates the true meaning of misleading impressions. Witherspoon strides into the courtroom dressed in a Prada mini-dress blowing bubble gum.A common assumption would be that Witherspoon is ready to party instead of presenting a case, but when she wins the case her capabilities are established. Lawyer-client confidentiality is a vital aspect of the legal world.
This communication privilege helps increase the trust between a lawyer and his client. Although the attorney-client privilege is a legal practice, some people feel that there are times where the confidentiality should be breached. Witherspoon in Legally Blonde parallels lawyers Armani and Belge in The Moral Compass of the American Lawyer: Truth, Justice, Power, and Greed by Richard Zitrin and Carol M.
Langford. Witherspoon demonstrates a trustworthy quality when she refuses to reveal her client’s alibi even when demanded by her professor: “ Fuck sisterhood. This is a murder trial, not some scandal at the sorority house. I want the alibi.
” Witherspoon did not doubt the innocence of her client, even when she was not aware of her alibi. A lawyer should do anything in his power to defend his client. Witherspoon was convinced from the beginning that her client was innocent, and this drive is what allowed her to win the case.Armani and Belge also decide to obey the lawyer-client confidentiality. This new knowledge presented the lawyers with a terrible and serious dilemma. Should they reveal the information to the police or the district attorney? Could they at least tell the judge? Or must they maintain their silence, even though it meant concealing evidence of multiple murders? As they analyzed it, the lawyers both felt that the principle of lawyer-client confidentiality- that everything a client tells them must be “held inviolate” and never revealed-required them to say nothing to anyone.
Zitrin and Langford 12) Armani, Beige and Witherspoon all agree not to expose any information regarding their clients. Lawyers represent the law, and more importantly their client. Reese Witherspoon, the protagonist of Legally Blonde, depicts plays the role as a “dumb blonde” law student.
The law profession is filled with gender bias, but Witherspoon ignores this and excels in the field. She was ridiculed for her girly appearance and bubbly attitude, but this did not prevent her from pursing her goals. She also maintains the trust with her client by not publicizing her alibi.Armani and Belge also upheld the lawyer-client confidentiality.
Witherspoon’s triumph in the courtroom proves Sandra Day O’Conner’s quotation to be valid: “The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender”. The quality of a lawyer is not dependent upon their gender; it is dependent upon their character. Works Cited Hensler, Deborah R. “Studying Gender Bias in the Courts: Stories and Statistics. ” Stanford Law Review 45 (1993): 2187-2193. Web. 28 September 2011.
Legally Blonde. Dir. Robert Luketic. Perf.Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2001.
DVD. Levinson, Justin D. and Danielle Young. “Implicit Gender Bias in the Legal Profession: An Empirical Study. ” Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy 18 (2010): 1-45. Web. 27 September 2011.
Zaretsky, Staci. “Women Lawyers and Gender Bias: The Mommy Track Can Kill Your Salary” Lawyersexist. com. 2011. Web. 26 September 2011.
. Zitrin, Richard and Carol M. Langford. The Moral Compass of the American Lawyer: Truth, Jusitce, Power and Greed. New York: Ballatine Books, 1999. Print.