“This will never be me, I promise my thirteen-year-old self as I watch my mother.”
In The Game is a memoir of a woman who fought through a career dominated by men. It isn’t just that she managed to create a successful career in a boys club, but that she did it at a time when less than 3% of lawyers were women.
Peggy Garitty didn’t always want to be a lawyer. Truth be told, she wanted to be a doctor working to help people as a nun. But when she found herself pregnant her senior year of college, she realized her plans needed to drastically shift. Growing up with a stay at home mom, who had her life dominated by men, the one thing Peggy knew, was that she didn’t want to give up her dreams.
This book takes us through Peggy’s life. Her life was influenced heavily in the beginning by priests, a male dominated institution where religion didn’t stop the predatory behaviors toward the young women Peggy knew, or Peggy herself. These moments that she either experienced or observed, shaped her into never wanting to feel at a man’s mercy.
Even finding herself married and pregnant, she doggedly worked her way through law school, graduating five years later and passing the bar. From there, through two failed marriages and plenty of ups and downs, she built an impressive trial career.
The parts I really enjoyed was that as a true feminist, when sexual harassment began to actually become a relevant topic that people were taking seriously, she didn’t simply jump to defend women, but also defended men. I loved that she was willing to see both sides of an issue and assign each case according to the merits of the law, rather than the sex of her client.
“As I always tell potential jurors during voir dire, we all have prejudices, and the challenge is to not let those prejudices and biases take over.”
I’m not sure why, but I was expecting more on her actual career. Instead we get more on her personal life than her life as a lawyer. We do get brief snippets from her more well known cases, or cases that stood out to her, and we get enough of interactions with judges and other lawyers to understand how the bar was set against her throughout most of that career. But, it felt like a very vague surface examination of her career.
This book is a bit of a let down for me. The parts that really discussed her tactics and details about not just clients and trials, but the inner workings of the justice system were fascinating. Even how clients on both sides behaved during and after legal action was very interesting. I just didn’t feel like we got very many of those. Instead, we got a lot of what was happening to her personally with the career sprinkled in.
Our personal lives are important, and can shape who we are in our careers. And, I get that this is a memoir. But, I felt like we were given some high profile cases, and whether it was due to confidentiality clauses or not wanting to feel like gaining from those cases, I just didn’t really feel like they were tied together. We do get lessons she learned for some cases, but not all.
Regardless, Garrity persevered and was successful in a career that was determined to keep her out. The strong female women in her life made her strive to be that for the girls in her own life. I liked how she wasn’t afraid to admit to her own mistakes and missteps, and found a way to learn from them rather than repeat them.
“Now I was forced to see that my clients might not always have been completely truthful, that I might have own when, if trials are a search for truth, I should have lost.”
She admits to trials as adrenaline rushes, and trial lawyers as adrenaline junkies, always looking for the next rush. So, to read about the missteps, and that maybe she had also been caught up in the rush rather than the justice was an interesting journey to witness.
For some reason I just felt a disconnect with the book. It felt more like a walk down memory lane, rather than a cohesive narration. It had it’s interesting parts in not just the window into the legal world, but social events and how they unfolded around her. It just didn’t really click with me.
Thank you BookSparks for sending me a copy to read and review!