If you had to draw a picture of an attorney, what would it look like?  How would your drawing of a male attorney compare to one of a female attorney?

I love emoji. I admit it.  And while they are fun, some academics are contemplating whether emoji may develop into a new language altogether and change our written communication to look less like a novel and more like a comic book.  While it’s easy to express happiness with 🙂 and sadness with 🙁 , how do you express a more complex idea or concept like a profession?  These are the new concepts we are all facing, and regardless of who we blame for the rise of emoji (cough cough *Millennials* cough cough), we need to start getting used to the idea that words+graphic=communication.

How might lawyers be affected?

Google recently proposed the creation of emoji depicting professional women, with female lawyers being included in the category of business women. Currently, you can find some male-specific professions represented by emoji, but all the female emoji seem to be focused on wearing crowns, painting nails, and cutting hair.  #equalityfail  As much as I would love to see more accurate depictions of women as professionals, I have to wonder what a female lawyer looks like.  I also have to wonder why those who create emoji are insistent on drawing gender-specific lines in a world that is (hopefully) moving closer to gender equality.  In other words, why does the female lawyer emoji need to look different from the male lawyer emoji?  Can’t we both just be the scales of justice?

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As a female attorney, I still notice the saturation of male partners and attorneys in North Carolina (and generally, nationwide).  Right now, all my opposing counsel happen to be male, and in the past year, I’ve only encountered one female attorney on the other side.  From my perspective, being a lawyer appears to continue to be a boys club despite most law schools graduating about 50% female attorneys-to-be.

I suppose with my exposure being limited to almost entirely male opposing counsel (and a male partner), my concept of what the female lawyer emoji should look like is, well, me and the handful of female attorney mentors that surround me.  That means this new emoji should be an intelligent, witty, powerful and kind emoji.  How do you illustrate these characteristics?  This is a problem that Google and the developers of Unicode probably cannot solve.  That solution must come from us.

Ashley Felton is a partner at Felton Banks, PLLC in Cary and a blog enthusiast on topics ranging from HR to Millennials.