Ladies who Lunch
October 26, 2006

This afternoon I attended a woman in law luncheon, for lawyers who practice in Hillsborough County. This is a monthly meeting, one I plan on attending more regularly. It was amazing being in a room with close to 100 female lawyers. They ranged in age, including some who had just taken the bar exam. I am certain there were all practice levels and practice groups there. At my table there were two women who introduced themselves as partners. As in they practice together. We just loved the ring of that. It sounded powerful and sassy. They were well dressed and well groomed, Ferragamo handbags, St. John's Suits and Anne Klein pumps. They were clearly successful in their eminent domain practice. I always love meeting and seeing women in their forties and fifties and beyond who are stylish and sophisticated. They had beautiful jewelry, perfect makeup and obviously a law practice and families. How do they freaking do it? I sort of think the money tends to help. But, that is why I plan on becoming a regular; maybe I can pick up a thing or two or three.

I flash to our female role model here. One female partner. That is par with the country average where approximately 17% of partners in law firms are women. With four partners here, our quarter representation is fair. Yet, she does not relish the womanly role. What is unclear is whether this is by choice, as in it is not a part of her personality, or whether by consequence. Maybe that is how she got to where she is today, taking a tough attitude, not playing into the feminism and displaying her female side. No, I am not calling her manly or butch. By far she is not. It is just different; she would not have attended one of these functions and does not put on an air that she would care to. She does not flash her "I am a woman" card often.

So I have no real experience with female lawyers, especially successful partners in firms, who chose to participate in these ideals. We saw women enter with their younger associates in tow. Obviously this could have been a mandated event that they had to participate in and even that the firm sponsored. Ours didn’t. We shelled out our own $20.00. I can’t even imagine what that is like, having that kind of firm environment. It was like watching and envying a mother/daughter relationship that was in perfect synch. I know there are a ton of extraneous factors that can contribute to the appearance they presented at the luncheon. But for arguments sake and what I witnessed, they moved together like actual friends and compatriots.

That would be nice. It would foster a more generous environment. There would not be such a hierarchy, one that they seemingly want to dismantle and are confused by. Yet, it is obviously there still because this is lacking. The lack of compassion for their female brethren and their legal community both contribute to that problem. There is no desire here to enhance that atmosphere of the firm, though in reality it is a huge part of the actual practice of law. You need to be a member of the community that you share your legal oath with. There is no desire here to teach that alongside deposition techniques and litigation strategy. It is not something on our to-do lists. Instead it is strictly business and billing. Talk about not fostering a realtionship, we don't get credit or billing for our attendance at such events. There is seemingly no want to create a small community here, where we can turn to each other as women and share, confide, and associate. We are associates after all.

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