Dear Female Lawyers & Law Students:
You will be told you smile too much; smiling makes you appear vapid & dumb.
You will be told you don’t smile enough; and you’re a cold b*tch because of it.
You will be hired by a client only because you are a woman (… because hiring a female lawyer must mean that the client is neither sexist nor abusive of women).
You won’t be hired by a client only because you are a woman (… because you simply aren’t as credible or knowledgeable as your male colleagues).
You will be accused of sleeping your way to the top.
You will be told you should ‘flirt a little more’ to get to the top.
You will be asked whether “men won’t date you because you are too powerful”.
You will be asked “how someone so smart & driven could be single!”
In a relationship?
You will be told ‘you’re lucky – a partner who supports your career!’
You will be told ‘it’s unfortunate – they’ll never understand your career’
Your outfit choices will be criticized.
… So will your hair & make up.
Beyond following ethics & actual developments in the law, there is no right way to lawyer. Find your true north and follow your own compass. You will know that you are excelling as a lawyer when you believe you are excelling as lawyer. Smile as much or as little as you want. Wear as much or as little makeup as you want. Want to take the client that only wants to hire you because you are female because you like the file? Go for it. Instead want to tell that client to f*ck right off? Go girl.
The practice of law is a practice that needs your unique voice, opinion & skill set. Criticism will be unavoidable. Sadly, some of your harshest critics will be other female lawyers that have chosen to respond to the above differently than you- and criticize your different choice. You will never please everyone, so be the lawyer you want to be. (… and maybe go cheer on a younger female counsel – big smile and all).
* advice for female lawyers *