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I don't think there's anything bad about casually mentioning your law degree when others are condescending to you. You'd only be stooping to the professors' level if you wore the law degree like a badge, thinking it increases the importance of everything you said (*they* might think it does, but you know better). It's not snobby, like you're in a conversation between equals and you feel like you need to feel superior, so you throw in your law degree. It's that you're in a conversation between equals and others are brushing you aside and acting like you're inferior. If the law degree or Yale or anything like that is what they need to listen to what you have to say, then so be it. It is aggressive to let them know about your intellectual pedigree, but there's nothing wrong with that, especially if they're the ones being aggressive in the first place, by creating this atmosphere of hierarchy.

Moreover, you're cooler than they are. You could have been sucked into that backbiting game of prestige and competition and high-achievement, but you're beyond all that. You know that that world isn't everything, and they haven't figured that out yet. They will either be impressed or uncomfortable, and either way they know you're a force to be reckoned with.

And I think just ignoring the impulse to *hide* those credentials would be enough. In a place where you want to say, "We had a dilemma like this at my law firm, and here's how we solved it," but could cover it up with "We had a dilemma like this at my old workplace," let yourself do the former. It would be nice if they paid attention to you with the latter statement, but they're not. It doesn't mean you crave their approval, just that you won't stand their disrespect.

The Happy Feminist

What a fascinating post. I can relate so much to your feelings about the condescending law professor. I have given in to similar impulses to defend myself from condescension by informing the condescending person of some credential of mine that he didn't know about; and then I hate myself afterwards. And then I worry that I was too transparent. Aaargh. At least now I know I am not the only one who has done this!

Ima Fake

Eleanor said what I wanted to say better than I could say it. We lawyers have as hefty a credential as Ph.D., it is just a shame that the academy took over our credentialing from the guild. Are you better than a Ph.D. ‘cause you are a lawyer, no. However, you are just as good.

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