Aren’t-we-fabulous history of the women of Harvard Law ’64, from one of their own.
There were only 15 women in the class, out of 525, but a good number of them rose to positions of authority and notice, Pat Schroeder and Judith Wilson Rogers among them. Little here explains just how the actions of these woman “paved the way for future generations” (indeed, at one point Hope credits that “the men who recruited me flew directly against the prevailing wisdom. . . . They broke a hole in the glass ceiling not only for me, but for legions”), for Hope proceeds by way of a linear historical narrative rather than through more manipulable exposition. Even to her, the women’s contributions seem less important than the fact that they got to sit “at the table” with the big boys. The bluster never gets put aside—“my law school class, which I referred to—then and now—as the legendary Harvard Law School Class of 1964,” that “remarkable and gutsy handful of women”—to allow for any revealing glimpses of just how these women responded to the hermetic world once they were in the fraternity of privilege. Hope’s rendering of her law school days reads like The Paper Chase, and the rundown of her classmates’ professional careers is mechanical, while the stories of those who left law altogether—whose tales might be particularly telling—are given short shrift. Most powerful is Hope’s admission that she blew it as a mother: “I failed at trying to do it all.” Her son calls her “a woman without needs,” while her daughter remembers “a woman who went to law school with a blazing sense of justice, now representing the Mob, now prosecuting the Mob, now working for giant corporations.” Give her honesty a round of applause.
When sitting at the table is more important than what’s done at the table: the story fails to hold.