Can I Find My Voice?
Now some of you are going to read my blog below and say – this is entirely inconsistent with your approach to counsel during your recent trial. I am going to tell you it is not. That particular circumstance was one where I carefully calculated the return for not just me but for my client. Despite the healthy debate around whether I was right or wrong, I stand by that decision. That does not; however, mean that this is generally the approach I take. What I have to say in the following few paragraphs is who I am and really who I continue to strive to become. I hope you enjoy the read and will find your voice too.
The exodus of women in law continues. It is not the pandemic says Amy Conway -Hatcher in her recent LinkedIn article “Who am I?” it is more than that. She accurately points out that women left before the pandemic and will continue to leave in the future. The reasons are many and complex and, she writes, both men and women play a role. Her article is a must-read if you are a leader in the practice of law or if you just want to find a voice.
The inequities continue to mount, and it doesn’t seem that the legal and corporate world, for all of their advances, have embraced a true understanding of the value of women and the necessary role they play in a business. The biases, conscious or unconscious, continue. The inappropriate comments meant to demean women who raise legitimate business issues rage on. There still remain, in our profession, arrogant men who are rude and inappropriately dismissive. All this extraneous nonsense just wears professional women down. Truly, their behavior is exhausting and drives all but those women with the most Teflon-like exteriors away from their chosen careers. It is unacceptable and inexcusable, but honestly, we are responsible too.
Is it easier to walk away from the nonsense? In many ways it is but I would argue it may be the least rewarding path to take. Women need to find their own voice. I know it is hard, believe me, I’ve been knocked down for speaking up more often than I care to count but I also know that when I advocate for what I know is right I feel a sense of accomplishment. I honestly believe that at this stage in my career I have a duty to be a voice for women. The future just has got to be brighter for female lawyers who follow me. I have to encourage women not to lose hope. It is my duty, our duty as women leaders in law, to impress upon those who push the inequities and biases that they are expressing archaic and unacceptable behavior. Ultimately, I have to do everything I can to ensure the world is a more tolerable place for my daughter.
Am I tired? Sure, I am tired. Would I like the path to be easier for me? Sure, I would. Thankfully, however, I am a realist. The movement forward feels glacially slow, but I/we cannot lose this battle. We need to find the motivation to continue to build our voice. To lead with purpose and make a safe place for every voice.
As Amy Conway-Hatcher states:
“Leading from purpose – for me – means that I help those seeking to be seen, heard, and empowered. To be the voice that gives lift to your wings. — Because everyone should have a voice, a face, a presence. And no one should be invisible.”
Let’s make the trajectory one that doesn’t boomerang. The more voices that are heard the less invisible we are. The more we speak up the more educated we all become. Voice and education will prevail.