Challenges for female litigators

Yesterday’s WSJ Law Blog pointed to an American Lawyer article entitled Obstacle Course, outlining the challenges female litigators have in “break[ing] through old stereotypes to build top-tier practices” in the “male-dominated world of litigation.”

Referencing one female partner’s internal struggle not to deal with food arrangements for trial prep meetings and another who was asked (15 years ago) by opposing counsel to record a trial transcript when the court reporter failed to show, the article discusses the subtle, subtextual, often subconscious gender role expectations that impact women today.  Challenges include having to make a conscious choice on whether to soft-pedal, thus risking being (or being perceived as) too passive, or being assertive and being perceived as overly emotional or bitchy; issues that arise when a woman’s childbearing years coincide with the years in which she may be pursuing partnership; work/life balance issues that are difficult on their own and perhaps overwhelming when combined with concerns about being thought to be on a “mommy track;” and a need to impress and overcompensate for assumed or perceived  gender differences.

It’s a fascinating article, and the comments on the WSJ blog are equally interesting.  Readers, I invite you to weigh in here.  What do you perceive about gender in litigation?  Do you think it’s different for litigators than for transactional lawyers?  And women, do you feel a need to excel that’s exacerbated by gender?

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  1. […] are sexually objectified and even threatened with physical violence.  I’ve posted about the challenges facing female litigators and about a woman who’s suing her firm for sex discrimination because (among other […]

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