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Women in the Law

What Women Lawyers Can Learn from Hillary: The ‘B’ Word Isn’t Bad

Posted Mar 25, 2008 6:46 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Women lawyers fighting for recognition in a male-dominated profession can learn a few things from Hillary Clinton. One lesson: Being labeled a bitch isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

That’s the conclusion of Kathleen Wu, a partner in Andrews Kurth in Dallas, who noted in a column for Texas Lawyer that being dubbed a bitch wasn’t an instant death sentence for Clinton.

“Women often go to extreme lengths to be conciliatory and diplomatic, all to avoid being called a bitch,” Wu writes. The label may have cost Clinton a few friends, “but at least nobody can claim she's a pushover.” Wu advises women lawyers not to be afraid of the label, whether they are standing up against a bullying opposing counsel or a belittling co-worker.

Wu summarizes other lessons that can be gleaned from Clinton’s treatment in the press. One is that being thick-skinned is invaluable. Another is that appearance matters. “I hate this one, but it’s true,” Wu says. “Take heed: Well-made, flattering suits = good; figure-hugging, cleavage-showing suits = not so good. Always be pulled together and look polished and be grateful for the lack of television cameras.”

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