|| I didn’t realize yesterday was International Women’s Day yesterday until rather late into the evening because I was working on a trial. I’ve been paralegalling for over 16 years now, and every one of my supervisors has been a woman, save one. I’ve had the honor of working with quite a few attorney’s over the years, well over 200 hundred in one capacity or another, and while I would estimate that about half them were women, of the very best attorneys I’ve supported, well over three quarters are women. Even my trial yesterday involved working with two attorneys, two legal assistants, and a lit support specialist; all of whom are women. And, the trial itself was held in the courtroom of a well respected, veteran judge who is also a women.
When that realization hit me last night, I thought about my experiences with women in the legal field over the years, and how positive it has been. I don’t have an actual list of the best attorneys I’ve worked with, but I do know that when I think about the attorneys I have most respected and enjoyed working with, it is dominated by women. Unfortunately the more I read and talk with women outside my little bubble, the more I find that my experiences are atypical. Since my career has overwhelmingly been defined by strong, talented women, I fall into the trap of projecting that onto the world at large; a reality which does not mirror my own.
Even with all the women I have worked with, and how skilled they are at litigation, there is still a double standard. A man who is driven and forceful in their work gets a reputation for “tough,” “hard nosed,” or “no nonsense.” A woman who takes the exact same positions is far too often simply known as, “a bitch,” which isn’t just sad, it’s a disgrace. Women in the legal field are every bit as competent and capable as men, but are still held to a higher standard. And it’s why International Women’s Day is so important to remind us that however far our society has come, it still has a long way to go. Having had the good fortune to experience what that society could be, it is frustrating and disheartening to know my experiences are far, far from the normal.
There is no reason, none, that justifies that.