I caught myself feeling really bitchy last week. It was a busy morning and I was headed to a breakfast meeting. I pushed the button to open the garage door. The motor whirled for a second and then stopped after opening the door only a few inches. A closer look revealed a broken spring. I went back into the house, postponed my meeting, and called a repair service. When the guy came out he started asking questions about the sound the door made and the condition of the track. I impatiently answered his questions while thinking “Just fix it!” I don’t care what sound the door makes; I just want it to go up and down when I push the button.
I’m my own boss, so if I’m not happy, it’s my own fault. My internal monologue inspired me to ponder what makes lawyers so bitchy. I immediately thought of one of my law school internships at a big law firm. My office neighbor was a brilliant but demanding woman. I was glad someone warned me that it was common for her to cut people off mid-sentence. When she heard the information she needed, she didn’t want you to speak anymore. Once I understood this, her behavior never offended me. It was just how she operated. She would tell me what argument she was trying to make and would send me off to find case law that supported it. When I gave her the information she needed, she wanted me out of her office. I had fixed her problem so she didn’t need me anymore. The benefit of doing projects for her was I never had to write a memo; she just wanted a copy of the case with the pertinent section highlighted.
Apparently sometimes she would call the office to complain about poor service in her cell phone. There was nothing her secretary could do to fix the situation, but she would go through the motions to humor her.
My reflections have led me to the acceptance that a lot of lawyers are controlling over-achievers. We were the people in high school you loved during group projects. We didn’t trust you to pull your weight and we knew we could it better, so we did all the work. We don’t like unexpected changes; our lives are too busy. We’re over-scheduled and work on tight deadlines. We don’t go with the flow. On the upside, we don’t intend to be mean or jerks, and usually we’re not. We just know what we want and we ask for it without any fluffy fanfare.
In general, we prefer to do things ourselves. We hate having to rely on others. When I have to hire someone to do something I can’t do, I’m grateful for their service, but I want them in and out of my house as fast as possible. I don’t like disruptions to my productive groove and quiet solitude.
Are lawyers going to stop being bitchy? No, not even solo practitioners like me. It’s a masochistic affliction I accept and try not to inflict it upon anyone else. And don’t think that only women can be bitchy lawyers because I’m female and the example I used is also a woman. Male lawyers can be just as bitchy.