Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 48

A SLICE OF WRY
Two Steps Forward . . .
By Paul Kiernan
W
e've come how far?
When Justice Sandra Day O'Connor died, the
Washington Post obituary documented the remarks
of Chief Justice Warren E. Burger at her
swearing-in. Descending the steps of the U.S.
Supreme Court building accompanied by Justice
O'Connor, the head of a branch of your federal
government told waiting reporters, " You've
never seen me with a better-looking justice. "
My first thought: How did this make Justice
Thurgood Marshall feel? I mean, the man was
Chadwick Boseman handsome, wasn't he? He
had the original rizz, and yet he never caught
the chief's eye?
Second, it's easy to scoff at our distant ancestors
from 1981. After all, they were not as enlightened
and hip as we are. They knew nothing
about streaming or farro or Beyoncé. Nowadays,
no lawyer would refer to a peer in a professional
setting with a remark about looks, right?
Cue Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court Judge
William B. Raines in 2022, disparagingly referring
to defense counsel when he was having an " off
the record " conversation with his law clerk and
two women assistant state's attorneys:
Raines: Can you imagine waking up next to
her every day? Oh my God.
[Laughter]
ASA: There would be a number of things
wrong with my life if I was waking up next to
her every day.
Raines: I couldn't have a visual on that if you
paid me.
Then after making a dig at defense counsel's
assistant - " That's her man child " - the judge
is advised that he is still being livestreamed.
" What's up with this? " he cries before the livestream
is yanked.
48 WASHINGTON LAWYER
* MARCH/APRIL 2024
Postscript: After a judicial misconduct complaint
was filed, Judge Raines left the bench before
anything could be done.
Will the legal profession ever advance to where
its assumptions and goals don't default to maleness?
Ninety years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt
appointed the first woman to serve on an
Article III court (Florence Allen of the Sixth Circuit).
Today only one-third of active federal
judges are women. In 2022 women made up 56
percent of incoming law school students. Law
firm partnerships? Not exactly 56 percent.
And how are women treated in the legal workplace?
Based on my semi-fictional sampling,
women have the following roles in the law:
* Get asked to take notes at meetings where
male attendance is at least half.
* Know everyone's name in the office (and
everyone's birthdays and due dates).
* Make sure everyone's pro hac vice motions
are filed.
* Mentor every other woman in the firm.
* Get introduced after all the men are introduced.
*
Pour coffee at meetings or at least know
where they keep the coffee.
To be sure, there are many women in the law
who are treated with the respect and equality
they are entitled to. But notice how many women
are described with facts and phrases that a
senior male partner would not be subject to:
The winner of this year's Philbert Q. RamseyLewis
Award is female attorney Wanda Menschenal.
Ms. Menschenal, 45, trained under
renowned corporate partner emeritus Dudley
D. Wright, the man credited with first
translating the Internal Revenue Code. Mr.
Wright stated: " Wanda has made all of us
very proud. " Ms. Menschenal's husband,
Fordie, is an executive vice president at
GigantorCo and helps raise the couple's two
children. The honoree is a recognized practitioner
in the area of spillover doubled-over
capital exchange reversal instruments,
which sounds very complicated to us!
OK, it's not always as obvious as my fictional example,
but the undercurrent is frequently there:
the male gaze of " Welcome to our profession "
and the weary women's response, " Welcome to
my world. " The accomplishments of women attorneys
are presented as funhouse mirror versions
of male accomplishments, not as worthy
of being judged on their own. I am reminded of
the Punch magazine cartoon of people surrounding
a conference table and the Big Boss at
the end saying, " That's an excellent suggestion,
Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men would like
to make it. "
Women are cautioned not to be too aggressive
or too meek or too active or too passive or too
tall or too short or too sweet or too sour. It's a
litany of terrible too's. Don't ask for the assignment;
wait until the man notices you and asks
you. Don't call the client; ask the man if we
should set up a call for him to talk with the client.
Don't interrupt the pontificating male partner.
And whatever you do, don't let them see
you bringing emotions into this.
But help may be on the way from that essential
professional, Lawyer Barbie. In the thrilling
words of screenwriters Greta Gerwig and Noah
Baumbach, Lawyer Barbie (bar-Bey?) speaks up
for bringing your whole self to your work: " I
have no difficulty holding both logic and feeling
at the same time. And it does not diminish
my powers. It expands them. "
Sandra Day O'Connor was on to something that
the profession has forgotten or never took to
heart: The most powerful lawyer in the country
for years was a woman, and she was regularly
cited as the most admired person in the country.
Take your own notes.

Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Notice to Members
From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Get to Know The Appellate Project
Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Taking the Stand
Worth Reading
Member Spotlight
On Further Review
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 4
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Notice to Members
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Get to Know The Appellate Project
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 36
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 43
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover4
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