How to Stand Out Being a Woman in the Law, a Male Dominated Field

By Anna Polito 

The legal field is competitive, and from the moment we enter law school, the competition begins. We make friends, we join societies, and we are told that although these are our classmates, it is every person for themselves. You compete for grades, mooting tournaments, and most importantly, you compete for jobs. This competitive mind-frame that is instilled in us from day one, lines up with the aggressive reputation a law career holds. Late nights, lots of paperwork, and an always-changing atmosphere. It is exciting but also terrifying at the same time.

To make yourself stand out; you need to display your dominance. And the sacred “commercial awareness” must never be forgotten. But how do we do this? There is no clear path for us law students to take to guarantee we will stand out. And as a woman in law, a lot of the ‘desired’ characteristics align more with what society views as masculine traits. Here is the secret, the one thing they do not tell us in law school enough. To stand out, you need to think differently. You need to be your authentic self. What is the use of lying on your application forms when you need to spend the next foreseeable further working at this firm? You need to be yourself. For a woman in law, that means celebrating your traits that do not align with the common lawyer narrative and show how those traits make you the perfect person for the job. One thing I wish I knew in first year was how important making connections with people in your program are. You are not all against each other, and you will succeed a lot easier if you help each other out. Help one another, share your knowledge, and when you do so, your leadership skills will speak for themselves.

Being a woman in law means you have the added challenge of not automatically fitting into the masculine narrative we are told is desirable for a career in law. But being your authentic self, and showing all you bring to the table, should not be seen as a challenge, rather something to be celebrated. Break the moulds, challenge what is not right, and be your authentic self!

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