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What Michelle Obama Didn't Like About Working at Sidley Austin


A new biography about Michelle Obama discusses in detail what she didn’t like about her job, early in her career, as an associate attorney at Sidley Austin.

Ambitious and eager for responsibility, she found a number of assignments unexciting, reports the Chicago Sun-Times, summarizing a lengthy Sunday magazine article in the Washington Post by author Liza Mundy. Plus, more so than most associates, Obama, whose name at the time was Michelle Robinson, didn’t hesitate to push hard for better work.

“Not many people went over my head,” recalls Quincy White, a now-retired partner at Sidley who headed the firm’s marketing practice at the time. But Robinson did, complaining to Sidley’s human resources department.

He and an HR representative talked, agreeing that Robinson, essentially, was “complaining that she’s being treated like she’s a second-year associate,” recounts an excerpt from Mundy’s book, titled simply Michelle. Says White: “I couldn’t give her something that would meet her sense of ambition to change the world.”

Focusing on her career, the 25-year-old had told her mother, in the summer of 1989, that she wasn’t going to worry about dating, the Post article says. But then she was assigned to mentor Barack Obama, who was a 27-year-old law student and summer associate at the time.

Today, of course, he is the Democratic presidential nominee, and Michelle Obama is his wife of nearly 16 years.

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “How Michelle Obama’s ‘Savvy Sacrifice’ Helped Her Husband”

Updated at 1:35 p.m. to correct the length in years of the Obamas’ marriage.

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