Law Firms

Former Solicitor General Sees Some Parallels Between 'Mad Men' and His Early Days in Law

Former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger was a law clerk at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in 1965, the same time period portrayed in Mad Men, the TV show about New York advertising executives. That same year, Dellinger’s wife, Anne, was a technical editor at a New York insurance company, one of the few women in her office who did not work as secretaries or cleaners.

Dellinger, now a partner at O’Melveny & Myers and a visiting Harvard Law School professor, is a big fan of the show’s portrayal of a time of extraordinary transition. He hosted an online discussion for the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog about the show’s fourth season, and spoke to the American Lawyer about parallels between the show and law firm life.

At the Speakeasy blog and in the American Lawyer interview, Dellinger says he was surprised at the daytime drinking. “As a poor white kid from North Carolina who had almost never been to a really fancy restaurant, I was astounded by the lavish lunchtime drinking in the world of Manhattan law and business,” Dellinger told the American Lawyer.

The American Lawyer asked Dellinger about the show’s most realistic portrayal of the time period. “I think the show is at its best when it deals with the changing gender roles in the 1960s. It does a wonderful job of showing the tensions that arose between the very first women who were in professional roles and their predecessors, women who had been confined to secretary and staff roles,” he says. “Mad Men also shows a 1960s world of closeted homosexuality and casual anti-Semitism, and gets those just right, too.”

Prior coverage: “O’Melveny & Myers Partner Is Blogging About ‘Mad Men’ for the WSJ”

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