'Don't be beguiled': Gender, inside-outsiders, and justice in the stories of Lowell B. komie

This essay discusses how the short stories of Chicago lawyer Lowell B. Komie (particularly the stories collected in the recent volume The Legal Fiction of Lowell B. Komie) showcase gender and lawyer stereotypes in a way that undermines the stereotypes and suggests a need for greater diversity in law practice. The main characters in most of the stories are lawyers who feel in some way apart from the lawyering world they inhabit. Frequently, these inside-outsider characters are women lawyers, which makes sense because statistics demonstrate that women have become insiders in the legal profession, while remaining mostly outsiders in the profession's most prestigious and powerful ranks. Gender and lawyer stereotypes form a constant presence, a sort of background noise, in the minds and lives of the lawyers populating these stories. The stories also suggest that there has been a modern trend toward dehumanized, even debased, behavior in the profession. The stories ask the reader to question several dualities that are represented in the stereotypes; the nature of the law and justice; and the character law practice requires. The essay concludes that welcoming diversity, and being changed by it, would help lawyers, and the profession, confront the real and daunting dualities that lawyers face.
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