11/04/2014 03:23 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mule-ing it Over: High Heels and the Law

"Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world." - Bette Midler


As I type these words, I'm seated uncomfortably at my desk writing a strongly-worded email to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) agency that administers arbitration proceedings on behalf of my clients. There is not much else I can do today. The pain is too unbearable.

I would love to tell you some terrific story of how I injured my feet conquering Bob Fosse's physically demanding choreography while starring in the hit Broadway musical Chicago, but the truth is a little more mundane than all that jazz.

Recently I spent the morning dashing between courthouses in Lower Manhattan to cover motion hearings. When I wasn't on my feet arguing the finite points of my client's case or zigzagging between traffic, I stood on the courthouse steps to return phone calls. Once my A.M. business was wrapped up downtown, I sprinted uptown to meet a client for lunch. After sushi and small talk, I bolted in the style of Steve Prefontaine to make it to a pretrial conference on Sutphin Boulevard in Queens.


At the end of the day, my feet were begging for clemency. I noticed black and blue coloring underneath my toenails on both feet when I looked down to assess the damage from wearing high heels all day. To save you from the gruesome and gory details, I will not enter any images of my injuries into evidence. Let's just say it was not pretty.

The health dangers of wearing high heels are well-documented and best left to the experts to describe but I will say I thought I was immune from workplace shoe agony.

I had invested in ballroom dance shoes the day I was sworn in as an attorney by the Honorable A. Gail Prudenti. Dance shoes, built for relentless wear and tear, are more comfortable than designer heels -- allegedly.

There is a saying too much ego will kill your talent. I submit to judge and jury that too much shoe ego will murder your feet.

You might be thinking my innocent until proven guilty ballroom dance shoes were not negligent. Perhaps I had selected a pair that were excessively pointy, too square, ill fit, or made of cheap material. But after an exhaustive investigation, it became apparent pumps are simply not meant to be worn at multiple stops on the lawyer choo-choo train.


As a result, I invested in a pair of powerful yet chic ballet flats (see image above). I am well aware ballet flats may not have the killer look of a high heel, but once you have been bruised and battered by a mule, the pain makes you rethink your footwear choices. Besides, I would rather have the ability to move around the courtroom with the ease of a star athlete than excuse myself mid-argument to massage my tootsies.

If you want to compete with the nearly invincible stiletto by wearing flats, opt for embellishments like a stone or jewel and select a bold color that pops. Chanel might be the gold standard in ballet flats, but J. Crew and H&M make affordable and stylish ones too.

Women's fashion choices are rarely motivated by reason. Each time we put on a shoe, a belt, or a cocktail ring, we hope our attire and outward appearance can have a transformative effect on our inner mood.

But what if female lawyers made decisions about their footwear based on reasoned analysis? Lawyers -- most of them, anyway -- thrive on using their expertly honed logic skills to win a client's case. If reason and logic are touchstones of the law, female lawyers, like our male counterparts, should be able to provide proficient counsel while wearing humane footwear.

Will I revisit my verdict on high heels anytime soon? I might grant a writ of certiorari if there is new evidence technology can improve the way high heels are constructed with comfort in mind, but for the time being, this case is closed.