What it’s like being a lady lawyer

February 7, 2023

Back to Blog

What is it like being a lady lawyer? What struggles do we go through? Are there any advantages or disadvantages? There are a lot of obstacles women face that their male counterparts don’t experience. With over 15 years of experience of law under them, Tracy, Susan and Tosha share their experiences being lady lawyers. Tune in for the season three finale and find out what it’s like being a lady lawyer.


Susan Reff: What is it like to be a lady lawyer? On today’s episode, we will wrap up season three and you’ll find out.

Announcer: It’s the Lady Lawyer League podcast. Omaha’s Leading Lady Lawyers Empowering Women to Be Legal Savvy. Hosted by Susan Raff and Tracy Hightower-Henne of Hightower Reff Law.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So season … well, Season three, episode ten.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Yes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And all three of us are here!

Tosha Rae Heavican: Yes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: All three partners of Hightower Reff Law because this is our season finale.

Susan Reff: I’ve never been on the podcast with all three of us.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But I was trying to think of there was been three people before.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I feel like we did have one time where the three of us were on and it was the one where you interviewed me when I was like new.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And new OC. But season three is different because we are on video. Yeah, maybe for season three, all three of us have not been on.

Susan Reff: That’s correct. And we’re on video today because Tasha has really pretty teeth.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I do. It’s funny. No, I posted this on social media and I’m really proud. So excited. I think I’ve probably shown my teeth to Susan more times than she would care to count. But I have been on this journey with Invisalign and all the things and it’s six years in and I finally have straight teeth. So I’m pretty excited about that.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Well, that’s great. I mean, the topic today is what’s it like to be a lady lawyer? And that’s part of it.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Yes. I have a nice smile and it makes me feel confident for when I go into court and I hoop. But.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Well, okay. So interestingly, though, you didn’t always love to go to court.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I did not. So part of you love court. I don’t hate it anymore. So that’s progress.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And is it now like because I think this is a thing and I don’t mean this as funny. Now that your teeth feel perfect to you, I think you’re going to have even more confidence when you go to court.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Yes. Like I want to smile. And when I smile now I’m like, see my teeth?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: That’s kind of a weird smile.

Tosha Rae Heavican: It is. I need to work on it. I need to get a.

Susan Reff: Mirror tooth model.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I could only on the top, though.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Because there’s hand and feet model.

Susan Reff: Right? Yes, There’s models for every body part.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I don’t think any of my body parts would be model esque. What about you? What do you think? Not for me. For your.

Susan Reff: Body. Oh.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Nose, ears. I don’t.

Susan Reff: Know. No, my ears are very normal. I’m very thankful that, like, my ears don’t stick way out. Like, because that’s just something you can’t. And they’re not weird.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Oh, I’m sure there’s a surgery for it.

Susan Reff: Yes. Pin them back. Yeah, but that’s like something expensive and painful and.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Harder on your head.

Tosha Rae Heavican: And yes, that can be your thing.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: You’re wearing headbands recently.

Susan Reff: I know. When I think I bruised behind my ear. Oh, you have to get, like, a callus back.

Tosha Rae Heavican: There, and then it won’t hurt.

Susan Reff: A callus behind it. Like, really is tender now. Oh, I don’t know.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I like. I was going to say, I like the headband.

Susan Reff: I do like the headband, too.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But if you had big ears, you could check with your headband and then it wouldn’t hurt behind because you would.

Susan Reff: I’m going to start wearing my headband on top of my ears and all the callus.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right. All of this is what it’s like to be a lawyer.

Susan Reff: Yeah. Yeah. Like you’re going to wear your hair, your teeth. What you look like is so much a part of it.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So in this topic we were just talking about and we realized that it was Missouri. I thought it was either Ohio or Oklahoma, but they’re also all the same that in the.

Susan Reff: Anywhere in the.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Midwest, in the state senators office, that they passed a rule that women have to have a second layer and then they can’t have bear arms.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Correct?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: No. So that means like you need to wear a cardigan or a jacket.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Not to be confused with bearing arms. The second.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: You also, I don’t think can bear arms in.

Susan Reff: The well. Well, you can in Nebraska.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Well, that’s true.

Susan Reff: So so to go back to Ken Tasha where what she’s wearing, if she was a Yes. State senator in.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Missouri. Yes. Could I think you can, because you your arms are covered, but you don’t have a second.

Susan Reff: I only have one layer.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: That’s right. Hold on my elbow pad.

Susan Reff: Well, I do have a camisole on, but it doesn’t cover my arms.

Tosha Rae Heavican: And my shirt is short sleeve.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Be okay, though.

Tosha Rae Heavican: My shirt is short sleeve, so I don’t have two layers on my forearm. Is that a thing?

Susan Reff: So can you wear short sleeves?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I don’t know what you can wear. I think you can’t wear anything.

Tosha Rae Heavican: All these semantics, You just walk around.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: With your underwear on. Apparently.

Susan Reff: Literally. Dress codes are designed to keep women in certain.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Check.

Susan Reff: Positions, you know, like lower status, you know, like stressing you out. Like, what should I wear to work every day, right? When, like, a business suit jacket over, Anything should be enough. Or a sweater or a blouse. Right?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Exactly.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Yes.

Susan Reff: Like you shouldn’t have to be like, you know what would be really cool if they got these, like, armbands in defiance. So they were just wearing, like, a blouse with, like, an armband. Well, I’d be like, Aha, I’m complying.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: What if you have a sleeveless dress on? Not spaghetti strap, sleeveless dress, and then it’s like the nineties warm up arm band and just a little bit of your elbow show.

Susan Reff: And it was a double double layer armband. Yeah.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Double layer.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Gloves.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah.

Susan Reff: Upper gloves.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Yes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And then nineties arm warm up armband over the top. So we have a double. Or your arms are covered.

Tosha Rae Heavican: We should all show up to the legislature.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah. So, I mean, this is this also again, this is somewhat what it’s like to be a lady lawyer.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I remember this was several years ago, but I went to a women’s group thing where I was on the panel at the University of Nebraska Law School. And one of the questions that one of the audience members asked about was courtroom attire.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Was it a man or a woman that asked a question?

Tosha Rae Heavican: It was a woman. There were only women at this event. It was a woman. It might have been put on by the Women’s Law Caucus. I can’t remember. But one of the things that I’ve always kind of abided by, or maybe that’s not the.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right abode about.

Susan Reff: Did.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: About it. About it. What’s the past tense of abide.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I don’t.

Susan Reff: Abide did abide by in the past correct.

Tosha Rae Heavican: The thing I always do and especially as a person who the courtroom is not my favorite place to be, I’ve always felt like I’m going to dress in a way that I am professional but also comfortable because I don’t want to have to be worrying about what I’m wearing because I need to be worrying about who my client is and what they need.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And you also don’t want anything to be a distraction.

Susan Reff: For.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Anything else. But that also doesn’t mean that like, oh my gosh, if a little bit of cleavage is showing that that’s distracting other people and that’s your problem. But there is a you know, as lawyers, there is a professional decorum and there’s actual court rules in our local courts about what specifically should be worn.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Well, you cannot have you’re not supposed to have bear arms in court in Nebraska.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But it doesn’t have to be a double layer, correct? Yeah.

Susan Reff: So like no tank tops as an attorney.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Right. But what’s interesting is that there I know there’s been articles and studies that have come out about the difference between male attorneys versus female attorneys. When you’re talking about, for example, presenting in front of a jury. I know there was a bunch of stuff that came out after the O.J. Simpson trial because they talked about the prosecutor. And for the life of me, I can’t think of Marcia Clark. Thank you. But there was so much that came out about her during that trial and what people thought about her hair. And then I think at one point during the trial, she got it cut. And so then it was like this whole thing. Yeah, but there was nothing really ever said about the male attorneys. That’s not something that people look at.

Susan Reff: Well, and that was one of the first televised trials, not only about, you know, and that’s what started like the whole, you know, courtroom drama, TV thing and all of that. She was the only woman in the courtroom, really, that had a position of power because all the lawyers, each side had like six lawyers. Right. And she was the only woman. Correct.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So did you all watch it? Yes. Like you remember growing up watching it? Yes, Growing up.

Susan Reff: I was an adult. I was in third grade.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I was I think in fifth or sixth grade. I was ish. Yeah, maybe. I just remember that we had this little tiny nine inch TV in our kitchen. And before school you had to sit really close to it.

Susan Reff: Was it black and white?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: No, it was barely color. Barely color, Yeah. Estelle Yeah.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Yeah, I.

Susan Reff: A tube TV.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: It was a tube TV. Of course, you had to put it in the corner. So like, the back part was out of the corner.

Tosha Rae Heavican: £1,000,000?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yes.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Yeah, I remember being in third grade and my third grade teacher when they announced the verdict, I remember her coming out the hallway and saying, Not guilty.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I’m crazy.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Well, the other thing that’s really interesting about dress and being a woman lawyer in the courtroom, I remember my parents had some construction litigation case and I was actually I was in college or law school, so I was like out of town. And so I wasn’t involved at all. Otherwise, I would have been going every day and there was a jury. It was a civil case. And I remember my parents lawyer who was a woman, talked to them a lot about things like a woman lawyer, if she’s not married, should still wear a wedding ring because they don’t want the jury to wonder, why aren’t you married? And that that’s never said to a man. And then like whether you should wear a skirt or not, because if you wear pants, then some jurors are like, why aren’t you wearing a skirt? And those types of things. And I hear that from like our prosecutor friends and public defenders, too, that those are the types of things that jurors think about as a lawyer or as a woman lawyer that they don’t wonder about as a male lawyer. And it’s ridiculous.

Susan Reff: Yeah.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Agreed.

Susan Reff: Well, and men in general to dress professionally have a uniform. And the you know, it’s a it’s a suit and a button down and a tie. A tie. And they really only have to have maybe one pair of dress shoes. So it’s also a lot more expensive for women to dress professionally because can you imagine if you were let’s say you wore a suit to work every day because you had to be in court every single day. And if you wore the same suit more than once in a row, like men do that all the time and. No one notices or.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Black suit on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and the brown suit or great blue, Navy blue. Probably on Tuesday, Thursday. And then no one knows. Yeah. You have a different tie every day.

Susan Reff: Yeah. And so that’s like another thing for women to build up. Their professional wardrobe can get really expensive. And men are also built like most men are built like a box. So most things fit them off the rack. Whereas we are all different shapes. All of us have had to have clothing like tailored or we just have to like live with it if it doesn’t fit you right.

Tosha Rae Heavican: And so my pants are just long and then I step on them.

Susan Reff: Yeah, like pants being too long, pants being too short, you know, jackets being too tight or too loose or whatever, or the buttons in the wrong spot, you know, Like, all of that is a whole different thing that I don’t think men have to even think about.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Have you ever worn a tie like a suit and tie?

Susan Reff: I did wear a tie one time, but it’s not totally my thing. But I like it. Yeah. Look, Halloween.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Like as court attire. Did you?

Susan Reff: No.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: No.

Susan Reff: Oh, yeah. I think I was probably some time when I was wearing a suit, but I also really prefer wearing a scarf. I just haven’t worn them a lot lately because now I’m. I get hot a lot.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I always think of someone’s weight. I always think of someone’s wearing a scarf that there’s a hickey under there.

Susan Reff: Oh, but sometimes I wear them loose.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So every time. Oh, you know, like, Yeah, but if it still is like trying to cover or turtlenecks, I don’t know. I think that came from junior high.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I distinctly remember I remember wearing one of those. I think they’re called bolo ties with like the turquoise jewel. I mean, like cinch them up.

Susan Reff: I totally had nineties.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So like a country Western.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Did you wear.

Susan Reff: With your denim shirt? Probably with pearl snaps.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I had a shirt. Oh, this is my horrible third grade picture that I’ve hidden from everyone in my life, my husband.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Now we have to see it. Nope.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Never going to show it.

Susan Reff: Call Angie.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I have my hair is a mullet and my mom permed it and then back combed it. And then she had me in this purple like velvety suede shirt. But it was too big, so it was buttoned down and then it like it was like, up here, like this. So the shoulders were like, back here. It’s a horrible picture. And then the next day I wore my denim jeans, you know, acid wash with my bolo tie. And now you.

Susan Reff: Have your new teeth, right? I mean, look where you’ve come.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right.

Susan Reff: Now.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So speaking of all of this, these are some of the struggles as female lawyers. So what are the advantages of being a female lawyer?

Susan Reff: Everything.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Right.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But it’s hard to articulate. I know, right?

Tosha Rae Heavican: Well, and I was.

Susan Reff: I’ve never been a male lawyer, so I don’t know.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Yeah, there is that. I mean, I think I know we want to try to talk about the positives, but one of the other things that I was kind.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Of thinking, but going back to the negative.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Right. Well, but I think it could be maybe construed both ways. You know, like when you go to an interview and they’re like, what’s your what’s your biggest weakness? And you’re like, Oh, I work too hard, right?

Susan Reff: Don’t ever say that in an interview.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Right? But like, I think sometimes women are viewed it’s very hard to walk the line when you’re in court or even in some type of a negotiation where if you’re too hard line, then you’re a bitch. Or if you, you know, care about kind of the fluffy stuff, then you’re too emotional. Whereas men, you know, it’s like if they take a hard line, then they’re strong and they’re confident, you know, like those lines are hard. But I think to this side of talking about an advantage, I think women are more in tune as as a gender with the emotional side of things that I think sometimes can be overlooked by our male counterparts. And so I think that can sometimes be advantageous in a case.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But I think oftentimes in the work that we do, family law, estate planning, all those sort of like caretaker lawyer roles, oftentimes men and women seek out a female attorney because they think we’re better listeners and caretakers. And I think we are right. But one of the questions that we get often asked is sort of like how many women lawyers are there in the profession? An And something that I hear a lot recently is in law school classes. There’s more than 50% women in law school classes. But then in the legal career, most women leave the legal career for taking care of families. And so I think one of the things that, you know, in a professional setting with the grind that there is, is that some women struggle with being mothers and taking care of children as opposed to staying in the profession like men do and can do, and all of that, even though it’s possible, I think, for women to do it.

Susan Reff: Yeah, I mean, I, I can say so. I’ve been an attorney for over 20 years and I can say many of the women that were in my ilk that I remember ilk. Do you know what? I don’t know. I’m probably using the wrong word. My little pod back in law school.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Is that right? Sure.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I think better than ill.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Like your stature, like a woman that is of equal stature.

Susan Reff: As your ilk. So I meant. I meant like, my age. Like, let’s just say that.

Tosha Rae Heavican: At the time you graduated.

Susan Reff: Yeah. Yeah. So many of them, probably the majority of like the ten or so females that I hung around with. I think the majority of them are not practicing law and some actually never did. Like they graduated law school and they did not practice law. Now a lot of them are working, but they’re not working as attorneys there. They use their law degree to get a different job. And I can’t speak for if that degree help them get that job, but a lot of them are working, like in compliance somewhere or insurance or something like that. But there’s a lot of women that, yeah, they they had families and stayed home. And, you know, that’s a choice. It’s not to say they had to do that. But, you know, I do think being a parent and being an attorney creates a whole set of other challenges on top of being a female.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So I always caution people that just because females in law school, the numbers are up doesn’t mean that in the legal career the numbers are also comparison, right? Because we are still very much a male dominated industry.

Susan Reff: In Nebraska of our district court judges. So that’s where like felonies are heard. Motor vehicle accident.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Larceny is like a murder.

Susan Reff: Or. Yeah, a very serious crime. Divorces. Of those only in Nebraska, only 16% of our benches female and nationwide it’s 22% at that level. So we’re below the national standards in Nebraska. So I haven’t heard anything recently about the standards of practicing attorneys. But I think if you looked at the law school demographics, it is more than 50% are female usually. So we have those issues, too, like not only being a female lawyer, but like getting into the profession and staying in the profession.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I think another thing too, is like a struggle with being a female attorney is when you’re a young female attorney like us, right? Although like.

Susan Reff: Like raises an eyebrow. Not you. Right, right, right.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But I think, you know, like 15 years ago when I first started, I literally didn’t really totally know what I was doing, right. I was always willing to, like, work my butt off and, like, find the answer and do the best I could. But I also looked very young. And, you know, you age quickly in a career like this, but physically or. Yeah, experience.

Susan Reff: What do you mean, age quickly?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Wait, I think you get more wrinkles quicker and, you know, like gray hair quicker. I don’t know. Yeah. All right. You know what I mean? But I think.

Susan Reff: Being the president, right? Supposed to.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Use.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Those pictures. So they do at the beginning of their term. In the end of their term.

Susan Reff: Yeah. She did that for a lawyer. No, they shouldn’t. You got no teeth, though. I know.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah. So you’re you’re better wearing.

Tosha Rae Heavican: My hair, so I don’t know. That leaves us.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So I recall and something that we talk about with our younger associates in our office too, is like, you know, when you have a client say to you, you’re so young. Do you know what you’re doing? Like good ways to say like, Well, I just went to law school. Have you you know, you can sort of say it in a sort of snarky but like serious way, like.

Susan Reff: Yeah.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Do you want me to be your lawyer or not? I get to represent you in court. You don’t get to represent anyone else in court.

Susan Reff: And, you know, earlier today, Tasha was sharing with us some antics of an older attorney that was very, very, very bad. And it’s like maybe the person who’s right out of law school actually knows more than the person who’s been practicing for 50 years because they don’t keep up on their stuff either.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Oh, they get lazy. Yeah. And then they say.

Susan Reff: It’s always.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Been. And then they think, think I can just do this by this fly by the seat of my pants. I can do this in my sleep. And it’s like, well, if you’ve been sleeping long enough that you know, the case law changed.

Susan Reff: Yeah, right.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I in my realm. So I’m mostly in county court doing probate cases, things like guardianships or estate cases. And in the last, you know, 10 to 15 years, which is quick by legal standards and some cases there’s been a lot of rule changes and a lot of different, you know, different forms. You have to use different ways that things have to be done. And, you know, reading between the lines, a lot more forms, a lot more steps. And a lot of the older attorneys who have been doing this type of law for maybe two decades are saying, well, I’m not going to do it that way. I’ve always done it this way. Yeah. And so then you’re having twice as many hearings to do it because they’re refusing to do it the correct way. And so I think there’s a lot of advantages to having somebody who is, you know, quote unquote, younger or early on in their career because they are more in tune with what’s happening now.

Susan Reff: And maybe more flexible because they’re like, okay, these rules change. That’s. How the practice of law goes. Right. Roll with it. Yeah.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Before we go to the wild and weird questions from our crazy producers, what are you most proud of in your career?

Tosha Rae Heavican: For me, I so in my line of work, I get to work a lot with people who may or may not be marginalized or underserved communities, things like adult disabled people. I know the mental health system in our country is, in my opinion, sorely lacking.

Susan Reff: Broken, right? Completely.

Tosha Rae Heavican: So I get to help families sometimes at their most vulnerable, which I think is true for a lot of areas of practice. But the adult disabled cases are really near and dear to my heart. And also adoption cases I think I’ve talked about on here before that I was adopted by my stepfather. And so that whole I remember being adopted and so coming full circle and being able to help families do that has been really important work for me.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So what about you, Susan?

Susan Reff: Geez, Tasha. So what’s the question? Because I got tied up in that.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: What are you most proud of in your career?

Susan Reff: What am I most proud of in my career? This like having.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: That was my answer.

Susan Reff: Well, maybe me too. Maybe. Maybe you can give a little different context. So, like, this isn’t what I set out to do. And never in a million years thought that this is where I would end up, because I started my life as a criminal defense attorney and assumed I would always be in that realm and be in court a lot. And when we started the firm and we started hiring more attorneys and started growing our firm, you know, doing that mentor role that I would never have had the opportunity to do that on the scale that I’ve had to do it if it wasn’t for our firm. And, you know, I think for me, that brings me the the biggest joy because I set out to be an attorney and be a different type of attorney from day one. I never wanted to be the cookie cutter attorney, and that’s why I didn’t go ever work at a law firm and why I didn’t ever even interview and why I knew courtroom would be leave me the flexibility to do that. And so getting to mentor other young, younger attorneys usually, and usually women, you know, to help them be what they want to be.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah. I mean, I literally when I saw this question, I was going to say this moment right now, just being in this seat, not specifically the podcast, but like where we’re at a point where we’re knowledgeable about this information, we’re giving this information, sharing what it’s like to be a lady lawyer to random people that are listening to our podcasts. And I think that’s, you know, we’ve come so far and just like creating a business that has been successful for ten years, I mean, for a long time there was days where I’d be like, Susan is going to quit on me today. And then at some point I stopped thinking that because I was like, Well, I don’t know. She keeps signing leases and bank accounts with me, so shoot. But I think it is just this moment right here and everything that it speaks for. So. So when we talk about season three of the podcast and wrapping up our season finale, I think that was a a great way to sort of think back.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Yeah, yeah, definitely.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: All right. Wild, crazy questions on Google of what it’s like to be a lady lawyer.

Susan Reff: Compiled by our team of top notch producers and also weird producers. Very weird producers. I scooch over a little bit.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Our most men afraid to date female lawyers.

Susan Reff: Yes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: My answer is I would be okay.

Susan Reff: Were you single, Natasha dated her current husband in law Law school, right.

Tosha Rae Heavican: We started dating before I applied to law school. And then I applied and got in.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I met my husband right after taking the bar exam. So it wasn’t a lawyer yet.

Susan Reff: Ha ha. I’m the expert in this area, so.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But it’s also been a long time.

Susan Reff: Since I dated someone. Yeah. Yeah. Well, so I graduated from law school and was single and dating, and I would often get when I would meet guys out socially, they would be like, Oh, you’re a lawyer. And then they’d like slowly, like, go away from me. Like, clearly they didn’t want to talk. So I just started to tell people that I worked at the courthouse. Like I thought, if my profession scares somebody away from, like, learning more about me, that, well, that’s crap. But, you know.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So what did you tell your husband the first time that you worked in the courthouse?

Susan Reff: No, no, I actually told him I was in a. Turney, and he started laughing. So because then he asked why?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Maybe you think you’re serious.

Susan Reff: No. The rest of the context is he asked me if I knew who a certain judge was, and I was like, Oh, yeah, I know who that judge is. And he said he was my divorce judge. So then we had something to talk about. So that was kind of fun.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So the answer is yes.

Susan Reff: I mean, I think the underlying thing is female attorneys are viewed as intimidating. Yeah, that’s too bad.

Tosha Rae Heavican: My husband plays that card all the time. My wife’s a lawyer, so you better do what I say.

Susan Reff: Oh, yes, I like that angle.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Is it safe for a woman to become a criminal lawyer? The only thing I’ll say to this, and Susan can speak more is at one point I was doing some criminal defense work in the Innocence Project world where I had to go to the prison and meet with clients. And as a young lawyer, I would always feel nervous to go into prison and into an attorney room for the person I’ve never met. And someone told me, Why would they ever hurt you? You’re the person helping them. It’s probably you that told me that. And ever since then I was like, Oh yeah, duh, they’re not going to hurt me. I’m their lawyer.

Susan Reff: I would say being in a jail is probably safer than walking down the street, too. But you know, one of the things so when I was a public defender, so you only do criminal defense, they had a thing at the beginning where they were like, and granted, this was right at the cusp of cell phones. So they were like, make sure you have an unlisted number. They had a form that you could fill out to make sure if you owned a home, that if anyone ever put your name into the online system that’s public record, they couldn’t find your house. But that is a special form that the Register of Deeds has to approve. And that was before social media, too. So most of my friends that only do criminal defense who are attorneys don’t use their real name or their full name on social media just for that reason. But honestly, I’ve never I know what happens. I just don’t have any firsthand experience with ever having a client be violent towards me or towards anyone I worked with. But I know what happens, but I think that person is probably going to be violent towards their attorney either way. Yeah. Male or female. I don’t know if it’s more so more towards females.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Well, and I think to this question too, I think that there is some risk, no matter what type of case you’re handling. Right. In the sense that a lot of times when you’re meeting with a lawyer, it’s in a in a tough time. People are maybe at their worst. You know, I’ve had cases where I have, for example, removed somebody from a family because I felt like they weren’t taking care of them. And the family was very upset with me. And they came to our office and they yelled and, you know, so.

Susan Reff: And we yelled back.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Right? We did yell.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Back. And then we called 911. Right.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Right. You know, but even our divorce cases, you know, I mean, there’s definitely situations. And so we have to be aware of our surroundings and and what we’re doing and that sort of thing. I have had one case where we had the police come to the courthouse, to the courtroom. So, I mean.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But oh, I’ve had the red button pushed often in hearings.

Susan Reff: Luckily, there’s a lot of police at the courthouse.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right. And there is a red button in the courtroom. Yes.

Susan Reff: Fyi, the judge gets the red button.

Tosha Rae Heavican: And they’ll escort you like to your car and stuff if you want them to. Yeah, stuff. So but I don’t think that that is enough to detract any of us from still doing the good work that we’re doing.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: You know what? I scuba dive with sharks. Nothing much is going to detract me in this career. Next, when lawyers date each other, do they argue a lot? I presume so, but there’s not many lawyers that date each other. I don’t think my. So I.

Susan Reff: Get a lot of lawyer.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Couples. Yes, but I get this question. Do you guys get this question a lot? Is your husband a lawyer, too?

Susan Reff: Yes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And I don’t know. I think that’s somewhat of a.

Susan Reff: Gender by non-lawyers, not usually by.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Lawyers. And I don’t.

Tosha Rae Heavican: No one’s ever asked me.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: That. Oh, people ask me that all the time. And my answer always is if if he was, we would be divorced. Because it truly is. Like there are arguments that we have. And he’s like, Are you deposing me right now? Are you interrogating me right now? And I think if really both of us were doing that, it would we would never get anywhere communication style.

Susan Reff: So the answer that you have to give him is.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yes, typically yes. Is that a yes or a no? Right. I need you to let me finish the question before you answer.

Susan Reff: Yeah.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So I don’t know. I don’t know the answer. What do you call a female lawyer?

Susan Reff: Whatever they want to be called a lawyer.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So is it lawyer? Lawyer or attorney?

Tosha Rae Heavican: Oh. Oh, Aren’t men attorneys also?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I know, but.

Susan Reff: Is it generally.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Gender specific, gender neutral, a lawyer or attorney? What do you use?

Susan Reff: I use the I use both the word lawyer and attorney very interchangeably.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Same.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Same.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And sometimes in writing, it depends if I want to say an before.

Tosha Rae Heavican: And it doesn’t matter if they’re a man or a woman.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right. The only funny answer I have to this is potentially we call a female lawyer, a lawyer.

Susan Reff: A lady lawyer.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: An A on the end is an American lawyer, most like a solicitor or barrister in the United Kingdom?

Tosha Rae Heavican: I would say both.

Susan Reff: What, write a solicitor or a barrister are there?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I don’t even know what the difference between those two are.

Tosha Rae Heavican: A solicitor, I think, is the person who actually goes to court and the barristers, like the person who does the paperwork. And that’s why I feel like they’re the same.

Susan Reff: Who wears the wigs.

Tosha Rae Heavican: The solicitors, I think, Well, who’s.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: The judge? Don’t the judges wear the wigs?

Susan Reff: They all the lawyers wear the wigs too.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Even if you’re female, you have to wear the wig with the.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Grey and you have to have a second layer.

Tosha Rae Heavican: And you have to have a row.

Susan Reff: You have to wear the robe.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So maybe that’s what they were trying to get to in Missouri.

Susan Reff: It but everybody, not just women, I think in Canada, they wear the robes too, but they don’t wear anything on their head. Correct.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So the women in Missouri should show up at the robe and the wigs and be like, is this okay now?

Susan Reff: But they’re not.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Lawyers. But have them.

Susan Reff: Be.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I just think it’d be funny.

Susan Reff: I think they should wear their bikinis.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: With the.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Players.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: No, no, no. With the swim cover up, that’s like the see through.

Susan Reff: Yeah. Yeah.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: All right. Why is law seen as the most morally bankrupt profession?

Tosha Rae Heavican: Says who?

Susan Reff: Who said? Yeah, more.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Well, it’s TV.

Susan Reff: The TV and movies make it.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Is it bankrupt of money or bankrupt of morals?

Susan Reff: Bankrupt of morals, I think is the question.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I don’t know. I think it’s just it’s the movies.

Susan Reff: Well, and nobody wants to like gossip about the morally bankrupt plumber or the morally bankrupt tree trimmer.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Like, yeah, that’s not fun. Not fun.

Susan Reff: Like Joe, you know, he’s embezzling money from his tree trimming business and everyone’s like, yawn, But like, if it’s a lawyer, right?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, true.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I.

Susan Reff: I think lawyers are held to this, like, really super high standard that just really doesn’t exist. We are.

Tosha Rae Heavican: I think that there are bad apples in the legal profession, but I think there are bad apples in.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Every tree trimming and plumbing. Yeah.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Yes. And I think on some level, maybe our jobs are more public. And so that’s why people like are we pseudo celebrities? Maybe.

Susan Reff: Yeah. When a lot of lawyers become politicians.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right.

Susan Reff: And like lobbyists, right.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Oc Season three, that’s a wrap. Thanks for joining us on The Lady.

Tosha Rae Heavican: Lawyer League.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Podcast. Subscribe and we’ll see you next time.

Announcer: Bye. Thank you for listening to the lady. And be sure to like and subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts if you would like to learn more about our. At H.R. law, Omaha.

We’ll see you next week.

related content

What it’s like being a lady lawyer

February 7, 2023

What is it like being a lady lawyer? What struggles do we go through? Are there any advantages or disadvantages? There are a lot of obstacles women face that their male counterparts don’t experience. With over 15 years of experience of law under them, Tracy, Susan and Tosha share their experiences being lady lawyers. Tune […]

Read More

Meeting Sarah Hart and Season 2 Finale

June 21, 2022

It’s the finale of season two! In this episode, Susan and Tracy celebrate over 60 episodes of the Lady Lawyer League podcast as they bring on new associate attorney Sarah Hart. Together, they discuss some of their favorite episodes and topics they’ve covered up to this point, and they dive into topics they hope to […]

Read More

Launching Into Lady Lawyerhood

November 9, 2021

Join lady lawyers Susan Reff and Joy Kathurima as they go over all the trials and tribulations of being a lady lawyer. From public and private backlash to school vs actuality, down to what you wear, launching into lady lawyerhood is so much more than meets the eye. Podcast Transcript Susan Reff: On today’s podcast, […]

Read More