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4 Key Issues Faced by Women Lawyers – And How They’re Overcoming Them

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While many people like to believe discrimination against women in the workplace is a thing of the past, it unfortunately is still prevalent in many different industries. While more women are choosing to take on more demanding work roles, such as becoming an attorney, there are still many issues they face in their daily professional lives.

As women do, they find ways to overcome these obstacles. With the right understanding of the situation and a few tips on how to get through it, women throughout the legal industry are taking control back and making it clear that misogynistic behavior isn’t welcome anymore.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most common issues women face in the legal industry and what they’re doing to overcome those challenges.

1.Women Attorneys Are Constantly Underestimated

 

Although women attorneys and legal professionals are nothing new, they are still constantly treated as though they are underqualified or not suited for their job. It can be a challenge to be taken seriously as a female attorney, even with the right credentials and education. Women attorneys, especially young ones, are often confused as a student, secretary or paralegal.

However, there are many female attorneys out there fighting to prove their worth in the legal industry. For example, two Chicago attorneys, both female and fresh out of law school, decided to start their own firm.

Despite being called honey and sweetie from other attorneys, Katie Kizer and Amanda Graham are taking on a predominately male industry head on.

2.Women Attorneys Are More Susceptible to Health Issues

 

The stress of being an attorney can take a toll on anyone, but when you’re also fighting misogynistic comments and attitudes, it can become even more stressful. There are many different health benefits associated with increased stress that can affect women more than men. One of the biggest of these is depression.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 10 percent of American adults experience some form of depression. Chronic stress and poor coping techniques can put women attorneys at risk for developing this condition. However, understanding the signs of depression and openly talking about how you’re feeling or your stressors can help you get the help you need.

3.Women Attorneys Struggle With Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a challenge that men and women face in a variety of industries, but women attorneys must deal with grueling and sometimes unpredictable hours while still faced with the challenge of trying to have a family or a social life. While men may not be questioned about choosing a career over a family, women face questions and scrutiny their entire lives.

Luckily, technology is making it easier for women to maintain a work-life balance, raise a family and still have a thriving career.

Because more work can be done remotely or online, women don’t need to choose between taking months away from their job and raising a family. With the right resources, women can create a better plan that allows them to have both.

4.Women Attorneys Are Criticized for Their Looks

It seems that women can’t do anything without being criticized about their looks one way or another. Whether they care too much or they don’t care enough, women attorneys face misogynistic comments about the way they dress or the way they look. While male lawyers simply need to put on a suit and tie when heading to court, women have a much greater struggle just deciding what to wear.

You probably know how exhausting it can be to constantly worry about whether or not you’ll be judged based on if you wore a pantsuit or a skirt suit that day, so the best way to overcome snide comments is to challenge them.

If you’re told you don’t look like an attorney, simply ask what that means. While it may make for an uncomfortable few seconds as your criticizer tries to come up with an appropriate response, it can change their mindset.

Unfortunately, the perceptions of women in just about any industry seem to be changing at a snail’s pace.

For women in the legal industry, this means the issues and challenges they face every day aren’t likely to go away quickly. However, women attorneys all over the country are standing up for themselves, their career and feminism to prove the misogynistic attitude needs to be put to rest.

The best thing for a female in the legal industry to remember is that you’re not alone. If you’ve experienced rude comments, criticism or struggle with depression and maintaining a work-life balance, there is a strong chance another female attorney close to you has experienced something similar.

With a sense of community and the support of others, you can overcome any challenge that comes your way.

Author:
Kate Harveston is a young writer pursuing a career in journalism. She holds a Bachelors in English and minored in Criminal Justice, so she enjoys writing about anything related to politics, law and culture. If you would like to read more of her work, you can visit her blog, Only Slightly Biased.

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