Reese Witherspoon portrays Elle Woods in Legally Blonde . Photo from .

“What, like it’s hard?” Elle Woods famously quipped when her ex-boyfriend Warner Huntington III was shocked to see that she was also a first-year law student at Harvard Law School.

And whether it is hard, or a way to downplay our struggles to get to the point of success we’ve reached, Elle’s quotable one-liners from the movie Legally Blonde permeate pop culture, whether they are appearing on college grad caps or in memes .

Legally Blonde burst onto the big screen in 2001. What we once saw as another sweet rom-com about sorority girl Elle Woods tackling Harvard Law to get the love of her life back became something so much more to female law students and lawyers. Years later, Elle remains influential for women entering the legal profession and women lawyers alike.

Reese Witherspoon, the actress who played Elle, told the Wall Street Journal Magazine in a 2017 article, “At least once a week I have a woman come up to me and say, ‘I went to law school because of Legally Blonde ,’ ” she said. “It’s incredible. … You can be unapologetically feminine but also smart and driven.”

Like the women Witherspoon meets, I occasionally meet a colleague who sheepishly admits to going to law school because Legally Blonde inspired her. One of my lawyer friends even got a Chihuahua because she was inspired by Elle’s Chihuahua, Bruiser.

A search on social media shows a plethora of young women who relate to Elle , whether it’s that they thought law school or the LSAT were now doable after seeing the film, or were looking to her for fashion advice, or they used the film to prepare for law school . I remember joking with friends that Legally Blonde did not prepare us for how difficult law school is. Haley Moss. Photo courtesy of Haley Moss. Still, Elle’s story isn’t that different from our own. A lot of professional women have been underestimated in life—after all, the profession still has rampant gender bias, and women still make up […]

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