Hillary Clinton’s newest bio on her campaign website is a little mixed up. It claims she chose to work for the Children’s Defense Fund after law school, instead of working at a large law firm because of her commitment to public service.
But big law firm jobs were not available to her: She had failed the D.C. Bar and would not have ever been considered. Women were extremely scarce in big firms in 1973 -and one who had failed the bar would not even have a chance.
Here’s what the website says:
“After law school, Hillary chose not to go to a big New York or Washington law firm. Instead, she went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund.” https://www.hillaryclinton.com/about/bio/
Hillary’s short stint at the Children’s Defense Fund (She worked there for only several months in 1973) may have been impelled by her interest in children’s welfare, but the reason that she never worked for a large law firm is not at all related to that decision.
She didn’t work for a large law firm for a completely different reason: because she failed the D.C. Bar in 1973. At that time, very few woman were working for large law firms. And after flunking the bar exam, Hillary would never have been considered. She had no experience, except for working as an intern at Connecticut Legal Services while she was in law school.
And Hillary’s book, Living History, never mentions anything about a decision not to work for big law firms. Because it wasn’t an option.
She kept her failure a secret for thirty years, until she revealed it in her memoir.
According to Carl Bernstein’s biography of Hillary, A Woman In Charge, even her closest friends were “flabbergasted” to learn about it in her book. Bernstein notes that 551 of the 817 applicants passed. He reports that her friends “speculated that she must have felt deep shame at her failure, and that her self-confidence — always so visible a part of her exterior — was shattered by the experience.”
That’s why Hillary chose not to work for a big firm – because it was not an option. Even Hillary knew that big firms would not hire her- and that if she applied for a job at one, she would have to disclose her secret that she had not passed the bar.
Some people who recover from the humiliation of a bar failure and move on to significant achievements share their history as a way of helping others realize that its not the end of the world.
But not Hillary. Oh, and by the way, Hillary had no qualms about working for a large law firm when she joined the Rose Law Firm right after her husband was elected Attorney General.And she stayed on when she was named as a partner right after he was elected Governor. It was a perfect fit then.