Monday, March 10, 2008

Battle of the Sexes

One of the most frustrating parts of my job is the treatment I get from other attorneys. Namely, male attorneys. I have decided the methodology of this treatment has many facets, such as:

  1. I am a female;
  2. I am young, as evidenced by my Bar Number;
  3. I sound even younger than I really am, at first they usually give me the old "you aren't the attorney, are you?";
  4. The field I am in lends itself to emotion, which leads male attorneys to generally try to push the buttons of female attorneys;
  5. I'm not likely to tolerate bullshit;
  6. I know the Court Rules, which many of them do not and have told more than one to "read the Court Rules and call me back" when they are trying to get away with improper service, etc.; and
  7. I am female.
Generally, after a couple conversations the condescending tone dissipates. Then there are the assholes, who continually attempt, in vain, to get a rise out of me.

I have been dealing with a particularly egregious asshole a lot recently. Basically our conversations consist of him yelling at me, me listening and telling him I cannot agree to whatever it is he is yelling about that day, then him yelling more and telling me we'd get a lot further if not for my "tone", and finally me making a snarky comment and ending the conversation.

While for the most part it's not a huge issue, I will say it gets tiring to continually be challenged, clearly because of my age and sex. I know some people will say that is not why, but miraculously when my boss talks to them everything is handled quickly and without harassment.

I'd like to say it will get better as I get older and more well known. But based on how the vast majority of older female attorneys act in my field, and how jaded they seem, I feel it will be an ongoing battle until I've proven myself to be "one of the guys", which could be years.


Anastasia said...

Yeah, this was a topic of conversation at happy hour on Friday. It's pervasive. And disgusting.

Legally Fabulous said...

You've got to find a way to use it to your advantage. Make them think you're just some dumb young blondie without a clue and then when they let their guard down, sneak attack and go in for the kill.
(obviously this would only work with opposing attorneys... your boss will probably not like to think of you as being an idiot)

Elle Woods said...

It's only the opposing attorney's...My boss is fabulous.

LawSchoolBlogger said...

Can you use this to your advantage? As in...they won't see you coming?


femurface said...

I am a young female attorney, and I get this attitude from not only opposing counsel, but new clients as well. I know that I should just let my work speak for itself, but it gets really old, really fast. I sympathize.

Elle Woods said...

Ohh, like my client who it took 5 minutes to explain the difference between me and a secretary. Since he could not actually believe I'm a real attorney. No, the diploma you are sitting under is fake. Needless to say he's a total sexist and has no respect for women.

Angela said...

Elle: I am a 39 year old female attorney. I've practiced in a predominately male environment(bankruptcy) for 14 years. It does get better, but you will never be "one of the guys." You just have to be a better than they are. I routinely go to Court better prepared and better researched and I whip their butts. At first they hated me; now they respect me. I beat one of the most respected of the "old boys" last year at the Fifth Circuit and it was the best feeling I've ever had.