When I read Shirley Leung’s column in the Sept. 6 Boston Globe (“Guilty: of acting like a man,” Business), I was angered to read that lawyer Susan Church was held in contempt for “talking over” the judge. I immediately thought of the article in the September 2018 issue of The Atlantic titled “What it takes to be a trial lawyer if you’re not a man” by Lara Bazelon, who is a former public defender and current professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law.
Bazelon details how women lawyers in court must behave, dress, talk, react, etc., in a way that offends no one. They can’t be too tentative or deferential — it’s not a good way to defend a client — nor be too aggressive or loud, thereby risking making the judge angry. Like the Goldilocks rule, the first is too little, the second too much. Women lawyers are forced to find the “just right” way every time they enter the court, and that is a terrible burden, beyond any responsibility they have to defend someone.