Your Women’s Initiative Sucks

Law Firm 10 Columns, Law Firm 10, Lawyer 23 Comments

Of all the things about this firm that make me writhe with discomfort and despair, perhaps the most notable is the Women’s Initiative.  I can say with great conviction that I would rather trade places with a paralegal, and spend my days doing whatever the hell it is paralegals do, than join that miserable group.  I avoid all things Women’s Initiative-related with an intensity I haven’t exhibited since obsessing over whether I failed the bar. (I didn’t.) The only thing I actually even know about these depressing hags is what I glean from their meeting-agenda emails, which I delete immediately after a cursory, scornful glance.

The most blatantly absurd thing about the Women’s Initiative—aside from the fact that at least four of its members are not even immediately recognizable as female—is their collective failure to realize that spending their bi-weekly lunch hour doing something proactive might better redress their endless gripe of “not being given marketing opportunities with the same frequency as males.” Last time I checked, the men they perceive as practically bathing in marketing opportunities don’t waste a few hours each month on something as inane as brainstorming about what they’d do if they actually took a client out to lunch.

I might be interested if they could teach me how to get clients.  (Though if they had any clients, I imagine they wouldn’t have all this time to sit around complaining.  Which I guess is the whole point.) But at the very least, their meetings should be used to do things that would actually help themselves, such as: (i) taking golf lessons; (ii) having their hair properly cut & styled; (iii) staging a mass wardrobe intervention with Stacy, Clinton and Tim Gunn (yes, the abysmal state of female partner fashion would, in fact, require television’s most celebrated fashion gurus to reach across the aisle and join forces); and (iv) remedial lessons in the norms of social interaction.

Instead, my vexation lies with the nature of the events the Women’s Initiative actually chooses to stage.  The very existence of the group implies that women are a minority within a male-dominated environment.  So maybe social events that highlight just how male we aren’t—spa day and holiday tea, to name a few—are perhaps the teeniest bit counterproductive to our push for equal treatment in the eyes of the firm and its clients.

I’m certainly not trying to imply that male partners aren’t just as dim-witted (they are, just about different things), but they at least seem to understand that events involving clients and prospects should focus on highlighting what great lawyers they are—and at least be fun.  Golf outings and wine tastings come to mind as events that meet those criteria.  Because I’d bet my left breast that no bank president wants to sip Yuletide cider in front of the fireplace with seven wannabe-rainmaker Janet Reno clones.

If I survive in this hellhole long enough to make partner, my first initiative will be to abolish the Women’s Initiative.

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  • Anonymous

    Not sure about this one.  Perhaps she should suggest a group session on administering Rusty Trombones.

  • BL1Y

    Figure out how to please your man, woman.  You’ll get plenty of business then.

  • Lady of Law

    Hate to say it, but I’ve been to an event or two—mostly out of fake pressure from the fema-partner who stares me down in the hall and *I think* has a wonky eye—and they were brutal.

  • Ellen

    I’m so glad I’m not at a big firm.  Who wants to spend time in a room brainstorming with a bunch of Amazons who never found out we can now take showers every day without mussing up our perms?  I have a different problem.  As the only woman in my small (5 lawyer) firm, I have no one to eat lunch with other than the receptionist.  The men tend to eat in, or go out for very long lunches, where I don’t know.  I feel that I am being pegged as a high-class paralegal, as my work.  What should I do?

  • Pacific Reporter


  • BL1Y

    Fake BL1Y is a little too transparent this morning.

  • BL1Y

    The real BL1Y here.  I am a douche.

  • TBone

    I’ve seen some of those women’s group lunches through the glass.  Geesh.  Not a beautiful site to behold.  Why not just go get clients rather than talk about how to get clients.  It’s like talking about how to buy food when you’re starving.

  • BL1Y

    Just curious as to whether most Women’s Initiatives are firm sponsored, or just de facto organizations.  And, if they are firm sponsored, aren’t firms just a little worried about the whole facial sex discrimination thing?  Sure, women on average may face a harder time bringing in clients, but plenty of men don’t have the know-how, connections, or golf skills either.  If a firm was really interested in helping its rainmaking underachievers, it would give the opportunities to both men and women.

  • Anonymous

    Yea, what a bunch of lesbos!  That is not a group I would want to get stuck on a desert island with.  Those women are more muscular than I am (not to mention have better mustaches)

  • ME


  • Initiative This

    Women’s Initiatives serve a need that only women have – the need to band together and bitch about stuff that’s unfair. I’ve been to these meetings (the Women’s Initiative meetings at my old firm were open to everyone, and they always had good food). The meetings were filled with nonsensical drivel posing as empowerment. They were an excuse to have a nice lunch on the firm’s dime and make the women feel like they were accomplishing something. You either know how to get clients or you don’t – you’re not going to learn how by talking about how to deliver a proper handshake. What a joke.

  • Hal Locke

    At least these battle-ax partners are making money.  That makes them better looking to me, who is looking for work.  If any of them want to take me in as their muse, I’m available for their service.  I’ll even perform sexual favors, as long as they stay fresh.

  • BL1Y

    I agree that the Women’s Initiative described here is probably worhtless, but I’m guessing that among all the firms out there, there are probably a lot of Women’s Initiatives and more than one has gotten its heads out of its asses.  For instance, where I work female mid-level and senior associates are known to go to other women first when looking for help on projects (not sure if the same holds true for the partners).  Some of them are fairly open about doing this, and justify it with their belief that women in law deserve to get a leg up on their male competitors, even if it means facial discrimination.

  • Anon

    Just a thought – what happens if your clients aren’t male and/or don’t like golf? You know, some clients aren’t white WASPY men (shocking). Maybe the idea of looking for opportunities to bond with clients that don’t fit the traditional ‘boozy lunch/golf/stripclub’ model is a good idea for law firms generally, driven under the guise of a ‘Women’s Initiative’ because noone has gotten around to saying that some clients don’t ‘do’ lunch, and sometimes would prefer a cup of tea or an excuse to do something that is aimed at their interests. The ‘lunch/golf/stripclub’ model of events is not necessarily designed to enhance the ‘norms of social interaction’ but more of a disfunctional, alcohol fueled bonding by way of a mutual denial of that it is lack of social skills and the ability to hold a conversation with others/women that drives these events.

  • BL1Y

    I can’t really imagine that a client who doesn’t want to meet for lunch would really prefer to talk over a couple cups of English Breakfast.  Either your client is screwing with you, or you’ve managed to find the WASPiest person ever.  And, part of the reason why the boozing/strip club model has been so effective is that many clients are married.  You can bet a client will keep coming back to the guy who saw him bang a stripper in a back alley.

  • BL1Y

    Man, I suck.

  • Craig

    Just read a couple of your article Law Firm 10. I enjoyed them. I have an older sister who is also a lawyer and is not shy to use her looks to get her way. She is very smart and realizes that all men want is for you to like them. Being all “I am Women, hear me roar” is a turn off to both men and women alike. It is refreshing to see a good looking women lawyer speak out about being themselves. Don’t hide it if you got it. (Of course, if you don’t have it, please, please, hide it).

  • Just a Girl

    When I started, there was a big problem with me (young-looking, petite, single) and my older male office, particularly because I was overseas, far from PC America.

    I’m not very PC or easily offended. But when I couldn’t take it anymore, I went to my boss, who went OTT in the opposite direction. He talked about “talking to the guys” (“Noooooo!”) and making an effort in future to hire more women by maybe lowering his standards. (Also “Nooooooo”!) I was referred to a local women’s professional group. Like the one described above, it was full of losers who probably could succeed more if they spent time actually working.

    It helped that I got my boss behind me. My tactic? High, high heels, conservatives suits, lots of extra work, and snappy retorts when the boys got out of line.

    Fair? No. I had to work twice as hard. But that’s life. These affirmative action thing just kill me.

    P.S.  I don’t work in law, but a similarly stressful field.

  • anonymous

    I literally clapped out loud when I read just first few paragraphs.
    Bravo for you and your common sense.


    Pathetic.  A bunch of women sitting around griping about how someone else is not helping them bring in business.  I did that too, as a first or second year.
    I later realized that the reason I did not bring in business is because I wasn’t a good enough lawyer yet.  Oh, sure.  I had the elite law school degree.  Yes, I had some really great experience at a large firm.  But I didn’t know jack sh-t about really advising people until I was at least 10 years out of law school and practicing full time.  (Yes, newbies, read that again.  10 years.) I know you think your brains, ambition and earnest desire to succeed is worth something to clients, and you should get work from them as a result.
    Nope.  You don’t make rain because your advice is not that valuable yet.  And if you find yourself 20 years out of law school without clients, consider whether you picked the wrong field.

  • Easy to be Post-Feminist, huh?

    If it weren’t for these ‘old hag/frumpster’ partners who broke the glass ceiling, you would be a secretary… not a lawyer. Wait, with all the sleeping around, flirting, and carousing you do at your firm… you aren’t a lawyer. You’re a high class call girl. Thanks for selling your mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers down the river… I hope it pays off.


    this kind of crap is a freaking band aid on a shotgun wound.  And I feel like it makes it worse.
    The more you make women look different, the more they ARE different.  But then, the more you make them look like one of the guys…the more they get made fun of.