During her postgraduate study, Rodham served as staff attorney for Edelman’s newly founded Children’s Defense Fund in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and as a consultant to the Carnegie Council on Children. In 1974 she was a member of the impeachment inquiry staff in Washington, D.C., advising the House Committee on the Judiciary during the Watergate scandal. Under the guidance of Chief Counsel John Doar and senior member Bernard Nussbaum, Rodham helped research procedures of impeachment and the historical grounds and standards for impeachment. The committee’s work culminated in the resignation of President Richard Nixon in August 1974.
By then, Rodham was viewed as someone with a bright political future; Democratic political organizer and consultant Betsey Wright had moved from Texas to Washington the previous year to help guide her career; Wright thought Rodham had the potential to become a future senator or president. Meanwhile, Clinton had repeatedly asked her to marry him, and she continued to demur. However, after failing the District of Columbia bar exam and passing the Arkansas exam, Rodham came to a key decision. As she later wrote, “I chose to follow my heart instead of my head”. She thus followed Bill Clinton to Arkansas, rather than staying in Washington where career prospects were brighter. He was then teaching law and running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in his home state. In August 1974, Rodham moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and became one of only two female faculty members in the School of Law at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She gave classes in criminal law, where she was considered a rigorous teacher and tough grader, and was the first director of the school’s legal aid clinic. She still harbored doubts about marriage, concerned that her separate identity would be lost and that her accomplishments would be viewed in the light of someone else’s.
Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton bought a house in Fayetteville in the summer of 1975, and Hillary finally agreed to marry. Their wedding took place on October 11, 1975, in a Methodist ceremony in their living room. She announced she was keeping the name Hillary Rodham, to keep their professional lives separate and avoid apparent conflicts of interest and because “it showed that I was still me,” although her decision upset their mothers. Bill Clinton had lost the congressional race in 1974, but in November 1976 was elected Arkansas Attorney General, and so the couple moved to the state capital of Little Rock. There, in February 1977, Rodham joined the venerable Rose Law Firm, a bastion of Arkansan political and economic influence. She specialized in patent infringement and intellectual property law while also working pro bono in child advocacy; she rarely performed litigation work in court.
Rodham maintained her interest in children’s law and family policy, publishing the scholarly articles “Children’s Policies: Abandonment and Neglect” in 1977 and “Children’s Rights: A Legal Perspective” in 1979. The latter continued her argument that children’s legal competence depended upon their age and other circumstances and that in serious medical rights cases, judicial intervention was sometimes warranted. An American Bar Association chair later said, “Her articles were important, not because they were radically new but because they helped formulate something that had been inchoate.” Historian Garry Wills would later describe her as “one of the more important scholar-activists of the last two decades”, while conservatives said her theories would usurp traditional parental authority, allow children to file frivolous lawsuits against their parents, and argued that her work was legal “crit” theory run amok.