A recent article in the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, "A Lawyer Bride Sues Her Florist" which reminded me of sintecho's recent post "Does Your Partner Hide Behind Your Skirts?"
Now, I certainly do not think that sintecho's encounters were based solely on her status as a lawyer - I am inclined to agree with her assessment that had her husband also been a lawyer, the parties would have nevertheless still requested to speak with him.
That being said, I went to read the WSJ article and found myself guilty of the very stereotype I now wish to condemn. I read the headline and though "here we go... another lawyer suing just because they know how..."
Then I read the article. Now, I may be biased having recently witnessed my mother complete the horrendous journey that can be planning a wedding. This can lead to many negative experiences. I do not mean to say that all businesses in the wedding industry are bad or they are all out to cheat you - certainly there are many reputable companies worthy of respect for their commitment to doing the job they have been employed to do. But there are also many businesses that take advantage of the fact that (at least in theory) the bride is a one-time customer. Sure, word-of-mouth may damage a reputation if the service is poor - but if the bride herself never comes back - well, that is to be expected.
So upon reading the WSJ article - I found myself growing angry for more than one reason. First, I took the bride's complaint at her word. I have no knowledge of the ultimate facts, and I may be completely erroneous in choosing sides. That aside - I then got angry with myself. Here I was thinking the same thing that the business owner has said "don't deal with lawyers" - this is what I thought before reading the article, despite the fact that I will soon be a lawyer.
Finally, I grew angry with the stereotype I realized I had been harboring. A guy I once dated was in the medical profession - he told me that one of his teachers had advised him to avoid servicing lawyers if at all possible.
Are we really that bad? Yes, we live in a litigious society - but does our knowledge of the law make us more likely to sue unnecessarily? Or does it make us just more likely to know when someone isn't holding up their end of the deal?
Finally, in light of sintecho's article, I now wonder what the implications might be for me as a woman and me as a lawyer. Will people refuse to deal with me because I am a lawyer and I might sue, and will they prefer not to deal with me because I am emotional and unreasonable?
I hope that I am not dooming myself to be labeled "the enemy". And I hope that I will hold myself accountable for my stereotyping of others in the future - lest I deservingly be labeled as "the enemy".
*photo by http://www.sxc.hu/profile/jynmeyer