I’ve had a few opposing counsel who are wonderful, and a few that I occasionally think violent thoughts about. So I present today a quick primer on how not to talk to young women attorneys, because sadly, I think it’s necessary.
1) Don’t ask me about my personal life. It is none of your business and it’s not relevant to the case whether I’m married, whether I have children, or whether I like firearms/dogs/children/apples. I was absolutely appalled recently when opposing counsel asked me if I’m married, the gave me a lecture on how all marriages have rough patches and bad periods. Your client hit my client. That’s not a rough patch, and I don’t need to be married to know that assault is wrong.
2) Learn my name. If it’s hyphenated, and I use the whole name, you should use the whole name. It’s a respect thing. Oh, and don’t ask me which name is my married name. It’s my name, and see above, none of your business.
3) Read my motions. My opposing counsel recently came into court and tried to negotiate with me and had clearly not read my motion, which laid out all of the obvious ways in which his client had lied.
4) Don’t comment on my appearance. Don’t ask me how young I am, don’t compliment my shoes, don’t tell me that I look like Tina Fey (this happened to a friend of mine, sadly, I do not look like Tina Fey).
5) Don’t touch me. A handshake is appropriate. A touch on the shoulder is not. A touch anywhere else is definitely not.
6) Don’t disparage the work that I do. I work for a nonprofit, I work hard, and I do good work. Don’t assume I’m sexist, don’t make sexist comments about the people I work for, and don’t talk about the many ways you’re sure I waste tax dollars.
7) Don’t try to run the negotiations because you think I’m a pushover or you think I’m stupid.
8) Don’t act like my concerns or my client’s concerns are invalid. If my client doesn’t feel safe around your client, that is not an opinion you get to judge. That is her state of mind, and I need to respect it; so do you if you want to reach an agreement.
9) Don’t disparage your client. One opposing counsel once told me, "if he wants to be an ass, we’ll let the judge decide." The correct sentence was, "I’m unable to convince my client that this is a good idea, so I guess we’ll have a hearing."
10) Don’t pretend you never got my motions, letters, or phone calls, or that a 2 week delay in response is acceptable. Don’t use LOL in emails just because I’m young and you think that makes you seem hip.
Anyone have anything to add?