International Human Rights Lawyering: Can I do my own gender justice?

My first year of law school has taught me there is no law. At least, there is no law that is not first experienced by and filtered through the participants to a case or a suit. Each complaint tells a story of men and women who have suffered. Sometimes they lose money, other times rights, and in the worst of cases, the victims lose their dignity and lives. Women experience "The Law" much differently than the men who construct it, and their stories must be told.I study public international law. It is not sexy. The worst crimes are still being…

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Why do we equate “being a good parent and spouse” with “not being a good lawyer”?

When I first entered law school, I never thought that my gender would in any way impede my success in the legal profession. I had not previously experienced any educational discrimination regarding my gender, and so far the past has remained true throughout law school. I did well in all of my classes, voiced my opinions, and was treated equally regarding class discussions. However, a guest speaker who visited during the middle of second semester changed my view of the role my gender would play in my legal career after law school. The guest speaker's topic of discussion was what…

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Maria T. Schneider

Reflections on glass ceilings

"So, that's it... you hate men." Andrew stared down the table at me, challenging me with his words, his facial expression and his hand gesture."No," I responded slowly, "I don't hate men, I--" he jumped in and cut me off..."But I thought you were a feminist...???"As I reflect on what it means to me to be a female in the legal profession this conversation, and so many others like it, spring to mind. What does it mean to be a female in the legal profession? I suppose the simple answer is: the same thing it means to be a female…

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In Memoriam of Veronica Mars

My favorite television show was cancelled a few weeks ago. As unlikely as it seems, my feelings about that occurrence at times mirror my feelings about being a woman entering the legal profession. You see, my favorite television show is "Veronica Mars." About a young, intelligent, persistent female detective, it is well written, realistic and, most of all, the one show on television with a strong, young, female role model. Its cancellation makes me question television's commitment to female viewers. Ironically, the CW Television Network replaced the show for part of its final season with "The Pussycat Dolls Present: The…

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Demanding a more livable profession: why women who want it all aren’t the problem

Many of you likely saw the post by Peter Lattman on Law Blog last month on the MIT Workplace Center report: Women Lawyers and Obstacles to Leadership. As basically yet another study documenting women lawyers’ exit from the workforce, the study itself was less interesting to me than the comments after Lattman’s post. Among them, “Backwards” writes, “Something is backwards when it’s a ‘crisis’ for women to leave law firms in deference to their roles as mothers. I ask you: which job is more important, being a lawyer or being a mother?” Does this comment imply that working mothers are…

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How to Play Your Cards

In my opinion, the most challenging thing about being a career woman is learning how to play your cards. I simply mean this: there are certainly stereotypes which precede women in the workplace -- submissive, peacemaker, courteous, docile, prim, proper, ladylike, etc. And it's true that there's a time and a place to correct such assumptions, but it's also true that there are times when such assumptions might work in our favor in terms of gaining an advantage for our clients. For example, a woman who is naturally abrasive, when representing a client in a particularly rural town in a…

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BigLaw fit for women?

I want to take a minute to go against the grain and ask the seemingly counter-intuitive question about women in the profession: Could Big Law be the best place for us to practice law?I was asked by a new acquaintance last week if I thought I could handle the "negative work environment" of the big firm. My response was that I think I actually prefer a negative work environment. More about that perhaps-unusual answer in a future post. For now, I'd like to explore why I think that big organizations are better for women. The idea for this blog was…

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Supreme Court Builds Barrier to Equal Pay for Women

Another barrier has just been built as 5 men on the US Supreme Court (guess who?!) have ruled against a woman's pay discrimination claim. While I have not been able to read the opinion, the article clearly indicates that the majority author of the opinion, Alito, would like to find any way possible to deny relief to the woman, citing her failure to file a grievance after each and every paycheck. Ginsberg's heated dissent is right on point and fires back at the all male majority. I think people, including many women and this Supreme Court are far too quick…

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Is opting back in really a trend?

What would we do without the New York Times’s Lisa Belkin? I know that I’ve acknowledged that every now and then, the Times gets it right, but I’m returning to my default position, which can be summed up like this: oh, come on.This time my neck hairs are up about Belkin’s claim (nay, confession!) that she brought to a head the opting-out issue with her infamous “Opting Out Revolution” piece. Oh, Lisa. The Times might be all the news that’s fit to print, but this issue did not reach some theoretical high water mark because of one article. This phenomenon…

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The Gender Gap - Conquered?

THE GENDER GAP: CONQUERED? “Women’s rights” is not exactly a new concept. So, why are we still having this discussion? I think it’s because while women can vote, enter professions, and sit on the Supreme Court, the insidious and underlying issues that women confront remain the same. Earlier this year, the New York Times ran a series of articles under the title “The New Gender Divide,” focusing on women leaving men in the dust in school. Well, that may be so, but succeeding in school is not translating into comparable success professionally. Looking at the information on law firms thrust…

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