The battle between skirt suit and pant suit is fierce, one that pits traditional values against comfort. Here is my personal list of pros and cons.
There is a double standard in appropriate court room attire for male and female attorneys. Men wear suit jackets and ties to court every time. I’ve seen 6’3” men borrow the suit jackets of their 5’9” coworkers to go to court when they’ve misplaced their own, men ridiculed or reprimanded for choosing a bowtie over the traditional, and male attorneys who won’t even enter the courtroom if they feel less than professionally dressed. On the other hand, I’ve seen women in dresses I’d wear to the beach, bedazzled jean jackets, make up I’d only wear on Halloween, and shoes only a “dancer” should wear to work. So, I’m going to discuss and occasionally proffer advice on what I see as problematic in women’s court attire, from head to toe.
Makeup: There’s a place for bar or club makeup. And it’s at the bar or in the club, not the courtroom. There’s a place to test out new makeup techniques. It’s your bathroom, not the courtroom. If you’re using glitter or smoky eye or really any color found in a rainbow on your eyelids as part of your professional court appearance, you’re doing it wrong. I’m going to skip blushes and lipsticks and just say this: even clowns don’t want to look like clowns. As usual, a little goes a long way. Don’t overdo it.
This week I am going on vacation, which means I spent most of last week making a “to-do” list of my workload. Amazingly, making all of those to-do lists didn’t leave much time for any actual work, other than those tasked labeled “Must Do This Week Or You Will Be Sued For Malpractice.” I got most of those done, so now I can relax for a little bit. Unfortunately for us in the legal field, “relax” has various meanings. My cell phone will still ring, I’ll still get emails from clients, but at least I can respond with a delicious drink in hand—actually I guess that’s not much different than normal, but whatever. Enjoy your day in the cubicle. I’ll be hanging out with Snoopy and Prickly Pete while enjoying my two solariums.
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I love Halloween. It’s got hot women, candy, and free drinks. If you’re a girl and you can’t make yourself look hot and slutty on Halloween, you should probably move to England—because everyone there is ugly anyway. This Halloween I planned to do the same exact thing I do every Halloween: spend the weekend lying to random girls and picking up digits for the winter.
Although New York is the best city in the world, the weather sucks. There’s pretty much a direct correlation between the weather and how much ass you can get. In the summertime, the chicks are on fire and so are your chances of getting laid. But once those sweaters start coming on in October, you can kiss your steady diet of random goodbye. That is why Halloween is such a critical night.
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For reasons somewhat unclear to me, women in the workplace get a free pass to talk about their sex lives. For reasons even less clear to me, the women who take advantage of this double standard are never the ones you actually want to hear talk about their sex lives.
Exhibit A: My boss. I’ll spare you the details of her appearance because at least a few of the lawyers at our firm read this blog. But let’s just say she looks like Garry Shandling had a love child with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Take a second and let that image assimilate.
Basically, she’s ugly, and if the dictionary had pictures… Well, you get the idea.
Unfortunately, I spend a lot of late nights alone with this woman. (Working and not undressing her with my eyes—trust me.) She’s a senior litigation associate, and I’ve been a lawyer for two whole years. I’ve been working closely with her for the last eight months, preparing for a rather complex trial. So, especially lately, we’ve been spending a lot of hours together, usually working through dinner in one of the conference rooms.
Without fail, if we’re there past 9:00 p.m., which is a couple times a week, she lets down her hair and starts talking about her social life—more specifically her dating escapades. (Yep, apparently she actually has them. Although I’m not sure who would want to date her.)
On at least two or three occasions, I’ve gotten more details than a Penthouse Forum letter. It’s seriously appalling stuff. She talks about everything regarding men in her life: Their names, their jobs, their dating history, their kids…….their penis sizes, her preferences, her kinks, EVERYTHING. And after I googled the term “NuvaRing,” I quickly realized she had even divulged what kind of protection she uses. (Dry heave.)
Not that I asked for any of this, mind you.
When we first started working together, I was kind enough to humor her by biting on the heavily baited statements she would make during small talk that practically begged, “Ask me more about my new man Terrance!” (After all, she’s a senior associate, so why not let her blabber about whatever the hell she wants?) But after I inquired about where she met Terrance and she replied with “meetup.com,” I banished myself to small-talk solitude.
Since then, without ever trying to draw her out, she’s updated me on Gary, Phillip, John, Hamilton……………..and so on.
I do not encourage this. At this point, I nod politely, and I try and change the subject back to the case. But she just yaps away about her gross sexcapades, reads me the sext messages she receives and analyzes the desperate men who are lonely enough to bang her.
Several times she has asked for my male perspective. I just brush it off with something about how dating is a crazy process. One time I even told her that it made me uncomfortable, and she just laughed it off.
“Oh sure,” she said. “I know how you guys are.”
I’m no prude, but I really don’t want to know what a co-worker likes in the bedroom. As much as I hate the phrase, I still can’t help but say it—TMI!
Now, if I were a woman and she was a man (which she practically is anyway), this would have already resulted in a massive sexual harassment situation. But, acknowledging the double standard, there’s no sense in getting HR involved. I really don’t want to. Mainly because she’s actually a good lawyer, and when she’s not waxing on about her sex life, I’m really learning a lot from her. Plus, since she thinks we’re BFFs, she’s given me more responsibility than anyone else in my start year has even gotten. Granted, that responsibility comes with the price tag of feeling like I need to take scalding showers when I get home. Lather, rinse, repeat.
There was a time when her sex talk creeped into my head at exactly the wrong moment. I almost broke up with my girlfriend last week because some dirty talk she said one night reminded me too much of my putrid boss. I got grossed out and practically shoved her off me. I’m not sure the relationship is even salvageable. But this type of trial experience, I hope, is worth a sexual casualty.
Of all the things about this firm that make me writhe with discomfort and despair, perhaps the most notable is the Women’s Initiative. I can say with great conviction that I would rather trade places with a paralegal, and spend my days doing whatever the hell it is paralegals do, than join that miserable group. I avoid all things Women’s Initiative-related with an intensity I haven’t exhibited since obsessing over whether I failed the bar. (I didn’t.) The only thing I actually even know about these depressing hags is what I glean from their meeting-agenda emails, which I delete immediately after a cursory, scornful glance.
The most blatantly absurd thing about the Women’s Initiative—aside from the fact that at least four of its members are not even immediately recognizable as female—is their collective failure to realize that spending their bi-weekly lunch hour doing something proactive might better redress their endless gripe of “not being given marketing opportunities with the same frequency as males.” Last time I checked, the men they perceive as practically bathing in marketing opportunities don’t waste a few hours each month on something as inane as brainstorming about what they’d do if they actually took a client out to lunch.
I might be interested if they could teach me how to get clients. (Though if they had any clients, I imagine they wouldn’t have all this time to sit around complaining. Which I guess is the whole point.) But at the very least, their meetings should be used to do things that would actually help themselves, such as: (i) taking golf lessons; (ii) having their hair properly cut & styled; (iii) staging a mass wardrobe intervention with Stacy, Clinton and Tim Gunn (yes, the abysmal state of female partner fashion would, in fact, require television’s most celebrated fashion gurus to reach across the aisle and join forces); and (iv) remedial lessons in the norms of social interaction.
Instead, my vexation lies with the nature of the events the Women’s Initiative actually chooses to stage. The very existence of the group implies that women are a minority within a male-dominated environment. So maybe social events that highlight just how male we aren’t—spa day and holiday tea, to name a few—are perhaps the teeniest bit counterproductive to our push for equal treatment in the eyes of the firm and its clients.
I’m certainly not trying to imply that male partners aren’t just as dim-witted (they are, just about different things), but they at least seem to understand that events involving clients and prospects should focus on highlighting what great lawyers they are—and at least be fun. Golf outings and wine tastings come to mind as events that meet those criteria. Because I’d bet my left breast that no bank president wants to sip Yuletide cider in front of the fireplace with seven wannabe-rainmaker Janet Reno clones.
If I survive in this hellhole long enough to make partner, my first initiative will be to abolish the Women’s Initiative.
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Ladies, where have you gone? A new report circulated by the American Bar Association has the legal world asking why women lawyers are “still underrepresented at firms,” according to the Legal Blog Watch. As the report indicates, the “number of female lawyers serving as partners at large firms continues to stagnate,” with women representing only 17% of the partnership at private law firms, despite their accounting for about half of all law school graduates and 30% of all lawyers.
Certain pundits have suggested at the disparity between men and women in the partnership ranks results from a gender bias in evaluation of lawyers, with lower evaluations of lady lawyers leading to fewer of their promotions up the ranks. Others have cited the possibility that women sabotage each other in the Big Firm world by evaluating other women more harshly.
Call us crazy, but we’re not so sure that this lack of women at the top is such a slight. Maybe—just maybe—women have figured out that a job that requires 3000+ hours a year, robs you of a social life, and likely won’t net you much more than you’d make per hour as, say, a decent massage therapist, isn’t necessarily a gig worth sticking around for. We’re just sayin’. [Legal Blog Watch and Legal Times]