I know Alicia Florrick in real life. She consists of two people.
One of them is a Dutch woman in Amsterdam. A long time ago, she was my next-door neighbour, in the year in which she had her first child. That daughter was named after me, because the parents liked the name. I still remember how the new dad knocked on my door one morning, asking me to spell my name while he wrote it down on a piece of paper in a hurry.
His partner had gone to law school, but something must have happened – or maybe she just had some doubts – and she quit. The couple later split. The woman had another child, a boy this time. She was a stay-at-home mother for many years, just like Alicia Florrick.
When the children were older, she went back to law school. She was allowed to keep her single-mother’s benefits. She and I were friends for a while; I too had gone back to university at a later stage in life. I was present at her graduation ceremony in one of Amsterdam’s university buildings, a former church in the city centre, near the Spui.
After graduating, she first had several temp jobs, mostly as a legal secretary. Then she struck gold and was hired by a government organisation. She went on to become one of the country’s top lawyers in health insurance issues. Now earning well and her children gone off into the world, she continues to live in the same house. At first sight, unpretentious and even a bit dowdy-looking and certainly not a smart dresser, she has none of the glamour that surrounds Alicia Florrick, but she goes on fancy vacations and is dating a medical doctor.
The other woman funnily enough may also have the Dutch nationality, but she lives in England and I think that she grew up here. She too experienced some kind of gap in her career. She had a small business for a while that had nothing to do with law. I don’t remember whether she went to law school later in life, or took a break from the law after graduating. It doesn’t matter.
She has all of Alicia Florrick glamorous appeal. Smart as a whip, kind, driven, flawless appearance, working internationally, looking very attractive, living in a top location married to a man she met within a professional context, now a mother, and heading a department in one of the world’s top ten law firms.
Both women started their law careers after a break in their lives. Both women went on to rise to the top. It is hard for me to imagine two women who look more different on the outside. If you saw them side by side on a street in London or while on vacation, you’d think that they have nothing in common. But they’re both Alicia Florrick.