LAWYERS tired of all those lawyer jokes thought they saw...

salmagundi

September 07, 1993

LAWYERS tired of all those lawyer jokes thought they saw at the American Bar Association's annual convention in New York last month signs of hope that their profession's reputation may take a turn upward.

The symbols were two featured speakers at the convention: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Attorney General Janet Reno.

Some lawyers believe that as more and more women lawyers become highly visible, the public will quit thinking of them as money-grubbers more interested in billable hours than in resolving disputes quickly and in the best interest of the parties.

The new ABA president, a male, told Gail Appleson, the law correspondent for Reuter, the news agency, that he thought that might happen. But a woman attorney from San Francisco who is a member of the ABA's House of Delegates expressed another view.

"Lawyer bashing is not gender specific," she told Ms. Appleson.

Ms. Appleson asked Justice Ginsburg at the convention whether she thinks that having more women in the profession will lead to less lawyer-bashing.

She replied, "I hope so. Women are seen as more humane. Women have occupied that more caring role because society expects it of them. I hope that same caring and humanity can spread to men. I think women can help men to be more caring."

As of now, the legal profession is still a guy thing. Seventy-five percent of the members of the ABA are men, and 83 percent of the members of the House of Delegates are male.

So there is a danger in the near term that it could work the other way. Men lawyers, overwhelming numerically, will continue to set the tone and help women lawyers become less caring.

And did you hear the one about how many women lawyers it takes to become attorney general?

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