Posted on | July 19, 2012 | 34 Comments
One of the hardest things for me, as a female attorney, is the expectation of bitchiness.
I do not say that tongue in cheek… I mean it seriously. When people find out that you are an attorney, as a woman, they primarily think you are a ball busting, man hating, pant suit wearing, she devil who eats law clerks for breakfast and chain smokes cigarettes while yelling “FUCK” at every given opportunity.
And when you are NOT those things, they assume you’re a very bad lawyer.
Here’s the thing… I’m not a bad lawyer. I may not wake up every morning psyched as hell to be an attorney, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t take my job seriously and it doesn’t mean that I’m pansying about in short skirts and high heels just waiting for the next man to sweep me off my feet and make me into a stay at home wife and mother. I worked hard to get where I am but I have this “curious” theory that EVERYBODY works hard to get wherever they are. You’re a paralegal? You probably put in a ton of hours learning what you know and those hours aren’t less worthy because you didn’t pay $120,000 for them. You’re a legal secretary or a receptionist? Yeah… you put in time, too. You’re the voice my clients hear when they’re upset. You’re the person responsible for making me look good when I have to refuse to take a call because I’m in the middle of fifteen other things. So yeah, you’re pretty freaking important.
I have this strange, weird concept of treating everyone as equals… all of us here, working our jobs, wishing we were home swimming in bottles of liquor. We all deserve the respect of acknowledgement… acknowledging that we got out of bed, put on our big girl panties, and came to work when we could have just stayed home. Acknowledging that no one sets out to do a crappy job at something. Acknowledging that no one wants to screw up but sometimes? Sometimes screw ups happen.
So it seriously pisses me off when I come across people who don’t think that way, people who believe that in order to make themselves stronger, better, or more bad ass, they need to chop you off at your knees. It pisses me off when I go to a mediation or a deposition and a male attorney thinks he needs to comment on my appearance in order to minimize my importance in the room; it pisses me off when a female attorney ratchets up her bitch factor just because she believes this job is about survival of the fittest, with fitness measured in terms of how many people you can make cry in an eight hour work day.
Being any type of attorney is a hard job. Being a female attorney is hell.
It’s not all Ally McBeal shared bathrooms or Law and Order prancing in clicky high heels.
It’s mostly about empathy for your clients, understanding for your opposition, and believing that you can do whatever it is you’ve told your client you WILL do.
It’s bravado and spectacle but it’s also down in the trenches, get your feet muddy and try not to squeal, nitty gritty WORK. Just like what you do. Just like what we all do. So the sense that we are somehow better than someone else just because we have “Esquire” after our name? Nonsense. Pure and utter nonsense.
So forgive me if I don’t buy into the idea that I have to brow beat and barn storm and assert my authority to get anything done. I’ve got the muck and mud on my shoes just like everyone else… sometimes more of it. And when your not-so-trendy, $15 payless shoes are covered in shit?
You don’t have any room to act the bitch.