May 19, 2009 Published in the July 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

I write in response to the June 2008 issue, specifically to a contradiction presented. The Index column notes that the number of female attorneys practicing in Oregon went from 25 percent [of all practicing lawyers] in 1994 to 34 percent in 2007. No information is provided for minority attorneys. On page 105, the magazine presents its “Portland’s Best Lawyers 2008” list. Here, however, less than 10 percent of the attorneys listed are women, and even fewer are minorities.

While I understand the limited criteria the magazine relies upon to create this list—specifically using the company Best Lawyers in America and asking last year’s listees whom they would refer cases to— this process perpetuates the “good old boys” network and promotes the semipermeable barrier to women and minorities who are advancing in the legal profession.

Portland Monthly fails to note that women have made up half of law school enrollment and graduation rates since the mid-1990s, yet over 10 years later, women still make up only a third of practicing lawyers, and only 15 percent of partners in large law firms. Minority representation is even lower across the board.

The magazine seems to present the “34 percent in 2007” figure as something to be praised, but most female attorneys in Oregon would see it as a sad commentary on the state of the legal profession. That is, if anyone bothered to ask us.

I really hope that Portland Monthly will do more to look behind the numbers next time, and do less to promote the “good old boys.”

Oregon Women Lawyers
Southwest Portland

It was an unfortunate decision to put that obscene hamburger on the cover of your June issue, particularly when obese America is becoming more conscious of sensible and healthy eating. Who in their right mind would eat that half-pound monstrosity loaded with fat, calories, and cholesterol? (And who has a big enough mouth?) I think your readers are wiser than that.

Thanks for offering a positive perspective on competition (“I’m a Loser, Baby,” May 2008). The real world does keep score. As for throwing the scorecards out and just teaching the kids to have fun—I wholeheartedly agree with you: Let them learn to accept that there is a score, that you can win or lose with grace, and that a single game doesn’t make you a winner or a loser in the grand scheme of things. The reward is competing. [Writer] Kasey Cordell is a welcome guest at any gathering—be it for bocce, bowling, marbles, or yard darts.  

Northeast Portland

I strongly disagree with Kasey Cordell’s take on competition (“I’m a Loser, Baby,” May 2008), primarily because she focuses on youth sports. While I agree that we need to teach our children how to be competitive and how to deal with defeat, I do not believe that lesson should occur on the playing field for one major reason: obesity.

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As a middle and high school student in the 1960s, I learned firsthand what it’s like to always be last in gym class, and passed over when picking teams. With the statement “Kids miss out on the chance to be bad at something without those occasional losses” (emphasis mine), it is clear that Cordell is one of those to whom athletics come naturally and easily. In my experience, the athletically gifted made sure everyone else knew of their abilities—and of our failings. As a result, I could not wait to get past our school’s physical education requirement and to this day hate the thought of exercise.

Now the country is experiencing an obesity epidemic with its roots in childhood. I do not wish to see struggling children exposed to the hurtful comments and ostracism that I encountered simply because their abilities do not allow them to be competitive. Our goal should be to encourage kids to participate in sports and learn to enjoy physical activities—not to make every such effort a competition.

North Portland

As a reader—and a vegetarian—who subscribes to Portland Monthly, I must say that I was very disturbed to see the photo advertisement for Beast restaurant (June 2008), which depicts a woman holding a dead pig in her arms.

As a magazine that represents a city as progressive as Portland, I find this extremely distasteful. I enjoy reading your magazine, but I must now cancel my subscription.

Las Vegas

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