The responsibility for building a sound working relationship between a woman lawyer and a woman assistant rests mainly with the assistant. The assistant must earn the lawyer’s trust, and this requires a keen sensitivity to the lawyer’s particular needs and apprehensions. It also calls for setting one’s own ego aside and demonstrating unqualified loyalty. ~ The Assistant-at-Law (

I bet some of you just crowed in triumph, “It’s BEAST, you idiot!”

Nope, it’s breast, which works even better here, because this quote is from a thought-provoking article entitled, “Commentary: What’s Behind the Myth of the Cranky Woman Lawyer?”

The Assistant-at-Law makes good points about some of the issues that arise in the workplace when one female works for another on a team. But she doesn’t help dispel the cranky female lawyer myth when she suggests that the boss, “Try to appreciate the assistant as a person.” Ouch. If the boss is that obtuse, deliberately – or a la Michael Scott naturally – chances are she has a long way to go in the congeniality and empathy departments.

I’ve had little experience with female supervising attorneys, having spent the last 16 years working for one easygoing and thoughtful male attorney. In the last couple of years, I’ve also supported a lovely female associate, but she used to be a paralegal, so maybe she doesn’t count.

So I’m asking readers who have experience working one on one with female supervising attorneys – is the crankiness a myth? And if your boss, male or female, is truly an asshat genuinely unpleasant, how much of the responsibility to make the relationship work lies with you? (Let’s assume you have mad skills and other options.)


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