Are female divorce lawyers better or at a disadvantage in the practice of family law?
The late singer, performer, and soul icon, James Brown, coined the phrase, “This is a man’s world.” In many aspects women continue pressing to overcome professional and social limitations established by centuries of a male dominated legal profession. Many female attorneys have found success and longevity in the area of family law. People tend to forget that divorce and family law issues, unlike other legal matters, usually involve a male-female dispute.
Some time ago in a conversation about hiring a divorce lawyer, a female acquaintance of mine, who experienced a recent divorce, mentioned that she preferred male attorneys. She stated that she chose her attorney because she felt, “he had a sense of arrogance and a no nonsense look.” She continued to explain that, in her opinion, most female divorce attorneys do not possess an aggressive instinct. In my mind, I started questioning how many people had a similar thought process and image of female divorce attorneys.
Here are two reasons why I believe women practicing family law may be at an advantage.
1) Nature – On average, women spend more time discussing and thinking about matters of family and relationships than men do. In other words, we know family and relationships. It’s in our DNA. Women, by nature, tend to be more interested in relationships and their outcomes than men are. This translates into success when communicating and dealing with our family law and divorce clients.
2) Aggressiveness – Female divorce attorneys tend to have more of a “take no prisoners” approach to family law. Some may think it’s because we have a chip on our shoulder, or we’re trying to prove ourselves in a male dominated profession. Those assumptions are simply false. Truthfully, women possess a strong desire to be “right”. Some of my more difficult challenges have come from opposing female counsel. My husband, a school administrator, always prefers to intervene in a fight between two males as opposed to two females. His reasoning being, “Female fights can be vicious.”
I am sure that the misguided beliefs held by my acquaintance are not uncommon. In the chorus of James Brown’s song, “It’s a Man’s World”, the singer draws listeners to the conclusion that this man’s world “wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.” What would the practice of family law be without female attorneys?