Clare Dalton has been one of my role models for 25 years, both for her brilliance and her bravery. In 1987, then-Professor Dalton sued Harvard Law School for sex discrimination when she was denied her tenure. She won her case, but she didn’t go back to Harvard – which was my loss, because I didn’t get to study with her when I arrived a few years later. Instead, she went to Northeastern and used some of her settlement from Harvard to help create a domestic violence institute that helped advocate for victims. In short, she was a model of the lawyer many lawyers want to be: someone who used her brilliant legal mind to teach students, advocate for the underserved, and go up against the system when she was treated unfairly herself. And she didn’t have to bill her hours.
And now, for something completely different. Last year, the Boston Globe ran a story describing Clare Dalton’s latest career transformation: from academia to acupuncture. In 2010, Dalton started her own practice after having studied acupuncture in England and Florida. She told the Globe that her acupuncture certification exams were harder than any other exams she had taken, including law exams. How great is this? Dalton opened her own practice, and now sees patients in the Boston area. I love that the “About Clare” section of her acupuncture website simply mentions that this is her second career. No details about the whole sued-Harvard-and-won things, or about the leading-advocate-for-domestic-violence-legal-reform thing. Just a clear-headed profile of her qualifications for her new profession.
To me, it looks like Dalton has dedicated her life to helping other people in one form after another. She is now healing patients by using her hands, as opposed to helping students and victims of domestic violence by using her brain. She also has a history of choosing the more difficult option when she knew it was right for her, and ultimately benefiting society as a whole. How many lawyers can say that?