Counsel Requests the Right to Appeal
Wendy Savage isn’t dumb.
She knew posing for a calendar called Beautiful Lawyers —a quasi–fundraiser put together by a local attorney/marketing guru she’d met at a charity event—would not go unnoticed. She did not know that, in her slinky backless dress, she’d be by far the most come-hither among the calendar’s 12 male and female models, and thus the only one who’d attract significant attention. But she probably had a hunch. (After all, she did pick out the dress.)
Since Beautiful Lawyers was released in October, Savage—2006 graduate of BU School of Law, corporate lawyer, and sometime model—has inspired both a following of oglers and a torrent of criticism on legal blogs for what some consider a risky move for any attorney aiming to be taken seriously, especially a female one. Beneath a post on Above the Law, which shows a picture of Savage in a plunging neckline and calls her “Boston’s version of Joe the Plumber,” the responses go something like this: Wendy Savage can work on my pipe anytime she wants. Or: Her? She’s not that hot. And then, a multipost, Porky’s-esque debate over whether her breasts are real. (Savage declined to comment on such speculation, calling it “gutless objectification.”)
“When I was younger, I cared a lot about what people thought about me, people that I didn’t even know,” she says. “But I’m 28 and feeling like I’m starting to grow up. Doing the calendar was my choice, and I’m proud of it.” The Beautiful Lawyers website, meanwhile, offers a “Wendy Gallery,” featuring outtakes from her shoot; her portrait also anchors the home page.
Coming off an election season that saw an intellectual woman flogged for her appearance and an attractive woman attacked for her lack of depth, Savage is acutely aware of the double standard that female professionals face—and how to maneuver around it. “I wouldn’t say my looks have been a big positive in my career, but people tend to underestimate you if you look a certain way,” she says. “I think I’m smarter than I appear. That’s worked to my advantage.”
In person, wearing little makeup, Savage is actually prettier than she looks in the calendar, with soft features and perfect long blond hair. (She’d want you to know this. When she posted to the blog f/k/a protesting that “those who know me say [the calendar shot] is not a good picture of me,” blogger David Giacalone asked her for “more representational” pictures; Savage promptly obliged.) A teen model before being told she was too short to have any real future in the business, Savage is now a corporate counsel for Liberty Mutual, spending her days immersed in confidentiality agreements, private equity funds, and syndicated loans.
While glad to be working for a company rather than a law firm, as it “affords extensive contact with clients, more responsibility, and [better] work-life balance,” Savage admits that corporate finance is not her passion, and says she’d eventually like to put her law degree to another use. She’d also love to get back into modeling, or perhaps try an on-air legal-correspondent gig, “on the side.”
For the moment, her extracurriculars include music (Kanye West), TV (Gossip Girl), and the Curaçao wedding she’s planning for herself and Luke Peterson, a mortgage banker at Wells Fargo. “He was a little hesitant about the calendar,” she notes. “But he’s a positive guy. He’s good at letting things roll off his back. I think.”