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Megyn Kelley's Life as a Lawyer in Chicago Before TV

By DNAinfo Staff | November 16, 2016 1:53pm | Updated on June 4, 2017 6:54pm
 Megyn Kelly of Fox News
Megyn Kelly of Fox News
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Fox News

Editor's note: Longtime Fox newscaster has launched a new show on NBC. This story was originally posted in November of 2016.

CHICAGO — Long before she was a Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly was a hardworking attorney for a big Chicago law firm on a fast track to burnout.

"I am more exciting than this! I am more interesting than this! I am more interested than this! I need more out of life!" a despondent Kelly wrote in her journal back then. "I want out!"

In her new autobiography "Settle For More," Kelly recalls those days in Chicago and how, with the help of a Columbia College professor and friends at NBC5, her TV career was launched.

Fresh out of Albany Law School, Kelly joined the Chicago office of Bickle & Brewer in August of 1995, her first time living in a major city. Ensconced in a high-rise near Navy Pier, Kelly was in awe: the cleanliness of Lake Michigan, the parks and the nightlife.

"I fell in love with it instantly," she writes of Chicago.

She also met her first husband, Dan Kendall, then a med student.

At work, she was the only female attorney in the office, where the rule was to wear a skirt when the partners came in from the home office in Dallas.

"It seemed ridiculous to me. The guys could wear pants, but we had to freeze our asses off in the dead of winter in Chicago because the boss thought our bare legs were more professional?" she writes.

Kelly also was irked by a senior attorney she calls Michael, who would often have her photocopy legal papers, a task she considered beneath her position. She ended up telling him so. A partner backed her, telling him that "not only is she right" but that if he treated a fellow lawyer like that again he'd be fired.

She left for a time to work in the New York office of Jones Day, keeping up a long-distance relationship with Kendall before moving back here in 2000. Once again in Chicago, the couple would party at the Rush Street bar Hangge-Uppe, 14 W. Elm St., "where we would dance to 1980s music until the wee hours and cheer for the Elvis impersonator who would sometimes appear."

But working in the Chicago office of Jones Day became an all-consuming, often 18-hour-a-day grind. She recalls in 2002 how she was driving on the Kennedy Expy. fantasizing about being injured — "nothing too catastrophic, but something significant."

Perhaps a broken femur?

"They'd have to let me rest then," she thought.

"I had been working myself into a frenzy, billing more than 3,000 hours a year," Kelly writes.

Inspired by midnight reruns of the "Oprah Winfrey Show," Kelly, by then 32, decided television was her future. Friends at NBC5 helped her make an audition tape, in particular a cameraman named Bond Lee. She was also inspired by a Columbia College broadcasting class taught by Roger Schatz. Homework was doing standup reports on Michigan Avenue.

Her husband's new post took the couple to Baltimore where she made the plunge into broadcast journalism: She won a $176-per-day freelance job working at a local cable news channel and an ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C.

Her marriage to Kendall however did not last.

"All the hours and work and distance between us had separated us in more ways than one," Kelly writes.

She got a lot out of being a Chicago lawyer, Kelly writes, including learning "how to handle men in positions of authority."

"I would call on it many, many times," said Kelly, who has tangled with President-elect Donald Trump.

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