My Friday Rant – Not Everyone Needs to be a Lawyer

Maybe it was the heat wave we had this week, but this Friday I must rant.

The reason for my rant is an article in the June 6, 2011 Law Times, a paper aimed at the legal community in Canada, but mostly Ontario. The Article is entitled “LSUC (Law Society of Upper Canada) Considers Counseling for Returnees”.

The gist of the Article is that the LSUC, which is the governing body of Lawyers in Ontario, is considering offering career counseling to female lawyers to help them understand the consequences of leaving the practice of law (for maternity leave) before they make the leap.

I, the author of this rant and owner of this law firm, am a female who has a tween aged child that was born 6 years into my law career.

Before I decided to have my child, I created a plan as to how I was going to manage both being a lawyer and a mother. I evaluated the likely impact on my work and planned accordingly. I thought it through.

These are the same skills I use daily for my clients – I evaluate issues and create litigation plans for clients based on a variety of factors. I do this well because I am a good lawyer.

I feel such outrage at the proposed career counseling for female lawyers: if you cannot figure out something that important for yourself, are you truly capable of making recommendations to clients and being paid for those recommendations? Should you be a lawyer?

Offering this type of counseling solely for female lawyers weakens the image of capable female lawyers.

I never think of myself as a “female lawyer” – I’m a lawyer. I expect to be treated equally, not “specially” … if I need extra help to do my job, how can I charge the same rate as a man?

As with much of the extra pampering the LSUC seems to feel that female lawyers need, I am left with the thought I always have – not everyone needs to be a practicing lawyer.

If some women leave the profession because they’d rather stay at home with their children, that is o.k.: we don’t need to cajole them into staying in the practice of law.

If some women chose not to be litigators (which I am and still love after 18 years) because they don’t like the confrontation, that’s also o.k. – there are those of us who thrive on litigation and once again, not everyone needs to be a litigator.

Treat all lawyers the same. If some people choose to stop being lawyers, let them: there are many others of both genders waiting to fill the ranks.

Inga B. Andriessen J.D.