Women in the Law

Tired of being told how they should behave to get ahead, female lawyers give advice to men

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Three women lawyers in sillouette

The American Lawyer’s Careerist got some feedback from women lawyers after reporting on a study showing that women were penalized at work for assertive behaviors that are considered acceptable in men.

The women said they have read story after story about how women should behave at work. “I have been practicing for 36 years and have been reading this drivel about how women should behave for 40 years,” a reader wrote to the columnist, Vivia Chen. “It’s time for male lawyers to behave professionally also.”

Chen complied suggestions for men in this story. The columnist consulted “a bunch of female lawyers about what bugs them in their dealings with male bosses and colleagues” and came up with a top 10 list of annoying behaviors. Their tips for male lawyers on what behavior to avoid include:

• Don’t comment on a female colleague’s looks unless you would make the same comment about a man’s appearance.

• Don’t declare that a female adversary is “likable” or “unlikable.”

• Don’t tell a female colleague to “tone it down.”

• Don’t take credit for a woman’s idea.

• Don’t drink heavily at business functions, and don’t judge women who drink lesser amounts.

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