A popular Rudyard Kipling poem declares, “[T]he female of the species is more deadly than the male.” This maxim sums up the attitude many legal assistants hold toward women lawyers. Yet, while I have known unpleasant female attorneys, they do not seem to represent any greater proportion of the legal profession than do their obnoxious male counterparts. What, then, is the basis for the cranky woman lawyer stereotype?

A friend went to work for a female attorney who had been through at least three secretaries in three years. One might have assumed the lawyer had trouble retaining staff because of her disposition, but my friend had a good relationship with her from the start. The attorney was friendly and considerate, gave generous holiday and birthday gifts, and always apologized for late evening work.

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