Twenty six years ago, when I got out of law school, half of my class were women. So why is it that virtually every time I arrive at another lawyer’s office for a deposition, the receptionist assumes that I’m the court reporter? When I was a younger lawyer, I thought it was because of my age. Now I realize that it’s because of my anatomy.
I’m professionally dressed, carrying a briefcase. I introduce myself with my full name, tell them I’m there for a deposition, and give the name of the lawyer at their firm who is hosting the deposition. The typical response is “Oh, you must be the court reporter” or “Oh, you’re the court reporter?” I’ve even had them say – with a puzzled look “Oh, I thought the court reporter was already here.” You might think that a younger receptionist would be more attuned to the fact that (gasp!) Women can be Lawyers (who knew?), but I’ve had the same response from the 19 year olds as from the 60 year olds.
I have tried simply responding to their comment (“Oh, you must the court reporter”) by simply saying “No,” but it doesn’t work well. They just stare blankly – they can’t imagine who else I could possibly be. Sometimes they even ask “So, who are you?” And I repeat what I just told them. I refuse to be required to justify my presence by explaining my status and who I represent to any moron sitting at a reception desk.
I’ve heard male lawyers introduce themselves to the receptionist – they do it exactly the same way that I do – and they are never assumed to be the court reporter. Instead, the receptionist simply announces the male lawyer’s arrival – by name – to her boss.
I’ve decided to drag these people – kicking and screaming, if necessary – into the 21st century. It’s for their own good, for the benefit of professional women everywhere and, OK, also for my own amusement. So, the next time I hear “Oh, are you the court reporter,” my response will be to drop my briefcase, grab my chest with both hands, look them in the eye, and say, “Apparently so, since women can’t be lawyers in your universe.”
It’s either that, or I get myself a button that says “No, honey, I’m not the court reporter.”