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Jennifer Keys

We can be “sheroes”

Being a woman in the legal profession--in particular a woman of color--presents unique challenges, but also creates an opportunity for sharing a different perspective. Although women no longer struggle for equality in the right to vote and in the right to education, women still must fight for equal opportunities in the workplace. As more women entered the American workforce, the tide of criticism against working mothers also rose. Some continue to blame mothers in the workplace for what they call the decline in the American family. However, I believe this is a tactic to prevent women from succeeding professionally and…

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Erica Rancilio

Refusing to Play By the Rules

To me, being a woman in the legal profession is an experience in perspective and solidarity. In general, being a woman in the legal profession means every day I must move forward. I must politely demand the appropriate balance of professionalism and familiarity in my working relationships. I must ensure that mentoring does not give way to paternalism. It means that I am enraged that some firms continue with the antiquated skirt requirement. And when my professor called me "honey" in front of participants at a law conference, it means I had to determine the most respectful and effective way…

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Julie Schaffer

Being female is a non-issue

As a woman entering the legal profession, I am hopeful and encouraged. Thus far in my legal education and externship experiences I have been surrounded by capable and confident women. I am encouraged to see that being female, at least in my legal experience, is essentially a non-issue. In applying for jobs, positions on law review, research positions with professors, and other competitive ventures, as well as in signing up for classes, my female colleagues and I have never once discussed our being female. Rather, our conversations focus on our individual qualifications and interests. I simply have not seen women…

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Anna Czapla

Between Barbie Dolls and Bitchy Lawyers

Anna wonders how aggressive to be in her legal career. When she was little, she only played with Barbie dolls as makeshift footballs. These days, that would probably get her labeled "bitchy" just like her oral arguments do. "Toughness doesn't have to come in a pinstripe suit."-- Diane Feinstein as quoted in Time magazine, June 4, 1984. I am so thankful for all of the women that opened up the doors of the law profession to the women of my generation. I don't know how they did it. So many double standards and tough choices still exist for women lawyers…

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Mel Sullivan

We will be the women who shift the balance

Two things struck me during my first year in law school. The first was that every individual in a class hypothetical, whether judge, victim or villain, was referred to by a feminine pronoun. The second was that the preferred conservative dress for female attorneys was a skirt suit. There was also an accompanying rumor that judges had ordered attorneys out of court for transgressing this unwritten rule. This seeming contradiction codified the contradiction I saw within the law itself: a profession professing to act in the interest of equality and justice while at the same time being dominated on every…

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Lori Boozer

Me, Myself, and I: Reflections on my journey as young woman in the legal profession

I never wanted to be an attorney, but ironically, I have always wanted to be a judge. As a high school student, I had several opportunities to observe "the bench" at work. I also had the opportunity to be an acting New York Chief Justice during a mock government program held at the state capital in Albany. I wore a black robe and sat in the honorable chambers, meted out decisions on the rule of law, subjected student legislators to Judicial Review, swore in the student Governor of New York and made up my mind that this was the path…

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Anonymous

I LOVE being a girl, I LOVE being African-American, and I will LOVE being a lawyer

As an African-American woman I feel as if I have a somewhat different perspective on being a woman entering the legal profession. I not only have to overcome gender stereotypes but racial stereotypes as well. As a young woman, watching my mother, a successful woman in the business world, I remember countless times when I overheard her telling my father about the sexist encounters she had with co-workers and clients. Late at night when I was up finishing my homework in my room I could hear her telling my father about the customer that was hesitant about her working on…

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Happy to be Female

Requesting Solutions to the Problems

Solutions to Discriminatory Behavior Please!!Firstly, I want to thank everyone for sharing their stories regarding differential behavior, expectations and perks between male and female associates. It is unfortunate that they are all too common and familiar to most of us. However, besides realizing that I am not alone and am not being overly sensitive in noticing the differences, I beg you to submit solutions along with the problems -- how women have successfully dealt with such issues and how we can do the same! The only two end stories I read ended with the woman attorneys leaving their firms. That…

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Why I am in law school

I am in law school because Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg will not live forever. Thanks to Justice Kennedy and his paternalistic majority opinion in Carhart v. Gonzales, women are now assigned to our appropriate role in society as incubators. The Carhart opinion, intended to protect me and to ensure that I don't regret any of my reproductive decisions, rendered me a second class citizen.The Carhart opinion, authored by a man struggling to come out from behind the shadow of Sandra Day O'Connor, sounds a little bitter toward women. Kennedy was joined by a chorus of four other Catholic men, all…

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Anonymous

Don’t call me a “woman lawyer”

In 1848, Charlotte Bronte wrote in a letter to William Smith: "I am neither a man nor a woman but an author." She was quick to defy gender classifications as she sought to be judged equally and apart from her male colleagues. While she spoke defiantly about gender in her letter, she would publish literature under men's names for over fifteen years, veiling her identity for fear that the "mode of writing and thinking was not what is called 'feminine'" and aware that "authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice." She sought to transcend the prism of gender,…

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