ABA Journal


Law Firms

BigLaw lawyer’s public-speaking tips for women (lose the quirky mannerisms, don’t giggle) cause stir

Oct 28, 2013, 10:45 am CDT


Nice of the firm's "Women's Committee" to work up those "tips". I'm sure they're progressive, ABA Members all. Maybe these "tips" will be incorporated in a subsequent House of Delegates resolution.

By B. McLeod on 2013 10 28, 12:15 pm CDT

The problem I see is one of reality versus idealism.

In an ideal world, maybe what one -- man or woman -- chooses to wear or how one presents one's body would not impact one's credibility. (Or maybe that's not true -- maybe it's perfectly valid to draw the inductive conclusion that an attorney who cannot dress appropriately may not have the best sensitivity and judgment.)

In the real world, that isn't the case. And I don't think it's sexist to acknowledge that. In the real world, a woman can damage others perception of her professionalism and credibility by showing too much cleavage. And you know what? For men, so does wearing pants that show their junk. So does wearing a frightfully loud tie, etc, etc, etc.

I don't think that we have to be *blind* to reality in order not to be sexist. And I don't know that faux outrage over well-intentioned advice is how we get there. It seems to me that reactions like this just make women seem like "delicate flowers not to be offended." That doesn't describe any of the female attorneys I know. And it isn't going to put us on the path to a better place. It might just lower the glass ceiling even more.

By Anonymous on 2013 10 28, 4:33 pm CDT

Here's a tip on providing professionality tips specifically aimed at women: If you're a man, don't.

By NoleLaw on 2013 10 28, 5:04 pm CDT

How long has it been since the people who circulated this memo set foot in a courtroom?

1. Regardless of what your topic is, or who you represent, you will ultimately be judged by the persona you present. Introduce yourself to the nice people! Tell them what you do! And give them one brief humanizing fact about yourself: e.g. "My name is (name), I'm a prosecutor for the County of (insert) and when I'm not fighting for truth and justice, I make a killer lasagna!"

2. The people may not know you, but even non-rocket scientists often have great "sh*t detectors." Don't fake it. You should know your material well enough not to--AND you should be ready for the opposition's arguments.

3. Who the frack is David Childs, and why should we care more about him than the trier of fact?

4. Think of being an attorney as if you were in the military: When you're on duty, in uniform, or otherwise representing the profession, act like a professional. ...And we don't want to hear about your personal life.

5. Sloppy speech IS unprofessional; but the idea that this is a fault that lies exclusively with women is one for which Clifford Chance should be taken to the proverbial woodshed for sexism.
--Enunciation will not only make your presentation sound more polished, it aids the court reporter /recorder in maintaining an accurate record.
--Forget dramatic pauses; speak more slowly--as though you were expecting your audience to take notes--because sometimes they are!
--Practice using legal terms of art, so you don't feel the need to search for "fillers" when you can't think of them immediately.

6. Maintain consistent volume. If the court uses individual mics, take the time to adjust it prior to beginning.

7. Forget the slowing down and speeding up advice. Breathe in your speech where you would use punctuation in your writing. But don't read from your notes! And don't try to recite it from memory. Look at the people! You're trying to convince them--not reading them a bedtime story.

8. Don't worry so much about using filler words as using them in a way that undercuts your argument. For example: "It's sorta like economic terrorism," does not have the same punch as "It is economic terrorism."

9. Unless you've had drama coaching or voice lessons, your voice is what it is; and a court appearance is not the place to experiment with changes.

10. Purse? Yeah, right! Like, I'm really going to carry a purse when I have 4 document boxes and a briefcase!

By BMF on 2013 10 28, 5:52 pm CDT

The Valleygirl dialect is a California favorite! Look, I don't care if you have an IQ of 170; if you use that vernacular, you come off as a dimwit and harm your reputation. It has nothing to do with "sexism". If you want to be a victim, then live with the consequences.

By CT Lawyer on 2013 10 29, 1:51 am CDT

#4, I read the memo last night and my (invisible) panties were all up in a knot until some friends pointed out that these are suggestions for presentations, not court or bar functions or office etiquette. So I calmed down, just a little.

But I still want to know, what's the urinal stance, and why are women admonished to beware it? (Please try not to be too graphic, I'm a delicate teacup.)

#3, I was told the author was one or more (female) members of the women's committee. If you know otherwise, please share, so I can get wound up again.

By Marilou on 2013 10 29, 2:36 am CDT

@ 6: The only difference between speaking to a jury and making a formal presentation is that court requires the observance of certain procedures.

Darned if I know what a "urinal stance" is, either. But if there's not a podium to lean on, I tend to pace--and I doubt either are involved in urinal use.

@ 5: I'm from Philadelphia, if it makes you feel better.

By BMF on 2013 10 29, 8:33 pm CDT

This can't be happening in 2013!? What a bunch of idiots - regardless of who wrote the memo - be it male or female - this fact that it was only sent to the Females of the company is a strong tip about how the company views the females and their contributions, professionalism, and education. Where is the memo for the males of this firm or "pointers" for public speaking. Then let's discuss this inappropriate comment about Hilliary Clinton - now that's really taking the cake - so to speak. Sad, it tells me it was a male who sent the "guidelines" as they are now calling it...after the fire-storm they are getting. I'm literally in shock such a prestigious firm and corporation which is International like this one has allowed this to happen - heads need to roll on this one - and make that public!

By S on 2013 10 29, 8:59 pm CDT

The worst thing about this story is that someone deemed it news. Before you feign outrage maybe you should ask yourself if the advice given in the memo is bad advice. Is it? Is it bad advice to tell someone not to talk, act, or dress in a way that will make others see perceive them as unintelligent or unprofessional? And, are we really pretending to be outraged that advice in a memo from the Women's Committee wasn't also aimed at men?

By Attorney on 2013 11 01, 9:58 am CDT

After practicing law for 30+ years I find the memo disheartening. Is it possible that any law firm would still single out "female" lawyers and tell them how to comport themselves? We are not talking about 8 year olds. These are professional individuals chosen by Clifford Chance to work for them. Is it really Hilary Clinton's cleavage that was the problem? Is this what is taken away from a woman who was Secretary of State? Any competent lawyer would have advised a corporate client who wrote and circulated this type of memo that it is fodder for a lawsuit by any female employee dismissed.
And gentlemen, look around you….no behavior to correct, no anger management issues in depositions, negotiations? Hmm, how many female lawyers' behavior gets them sanctioned by a court? Or are those male strategies?

Perhaps Clifford Chance should seriously consider mandatory group counseling regarding the sexism at their firm. At the least, an apology to all the lawyers should be issued. I would hope many of the male lawyers were as insulted by this memo as the female ones.

By Z. Lewis on 2013 11 01, 10:10 am CDT

Such instructions should be issued to all associates. Table manners should be reviewed as well. I could not bring a former boss to my club for lunch because his manners were nonexistent. Men apparently need to be reminded not to publicly adjust their 'package.'. I'm not offended by the Clifford Chance memo, I think it's a good thing and should be rewritten to address men's foibles, and be part of the stuff a new hire gets.

By Goldcoaster on 2013 11 01, 10:24 am CDT

While some of the points may be valid (although insulting to point them out to any woman over age 16, and disrespectful by calling the Secretary of State by her first name - authored by Ted Cruz, perhaps?), what makes this sexist is that it singles out women. Since Clifford Chance didn't write a guide for men, allow me:

1- ditch the sports references. We get it, you used to be a jock back in your glory days. No one cares.

2- never, ever make a golf reference. It's elitist. And golf is not a sport.

3- never try to belittle someone by saying they "think/act like a woman". You should be so lucky to be as tough as us. We do everything you do, except we do it in heels.

4- stop shouting when you're trying to prove how tough you are. You look like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

5 - stop talking just to make sure you got your two cents in. If you have nothing valid to say, shut up.

6 - stop talking over others. Your opinion is not the only one. Like is not all about you (boys, you may want to read that last point again).

Lastly, always remember what Prime Minister Thatcher noted: "if you want something said, call a man. But if you want something actually done, call a woman".

Ladies, any other speaking tips for the boys?

By NYS courts ex-wife on 2013 11 01, 11:24 am CDT

This memo is replete with condescending nonsense. Professional women in a law firm do not need someone to tell them what to wear, etc. It is sexist in the way it's written and chosen to be disseminated. Law firm women's initiatives and law firms generally should be focusing their energies on improving diversity hiring, workng on their retention of women after hiring, mentoring them to succeed at the firm, working on getting them equal pay and respect and getting them promoted to equity and present in representative numbers on key firm committees, instead of telling them not to use their "high voices" to offend, wearing sweaters or showing cleavage. But considering the appalling wage gap and poor promotion and retention records, releasing ill-concieved memos is perhaps is the least offense on the law firm to-do list. Good luck BigLaw and Clifford Chance - thanks for keeping it real..

By Elsie on 2013 11 01, 11:56 am CDT

#6 Rick Nelson says , Hello... This received a great deal of comment several days ago , both serious and jocular , on CNBC, and they indicated that it emanated from the women on the Women's Committee, for what that's worth.

By greyghost on 2013 11 01, 12:46 pm CDT

I don't understand the uproar. They issued pointers for men as well:

- Avoid sexist remarks so as not to offend the gals in the audience.

- Wear a power tie.

- Speak with confidence and authority as if you were explaining the infield fly rule to your girlfriend.

- Avoid using crass terms unless you need to make f**king huge point.

- Avoid repetitive sports analogies.

- Do not wander. Keep your eye on the ball and stay on target; you are the QB while you are on stage: act that way.

- Do not take your smartphone to the podium and check emails in the middle of your remarks, unless you think they involve major matters for which you are the big dog.

- Avoid touching or rearranging your junk; think Woody from Toy Story, not Snoop Dog.

- Keep your remarks brief unless what you have to say is really important, which probably will be the case.

By pjhwis on 2013 11 01, 12:47 pm CDT

If they gave this advice it's because they saw someone people doing these things and thought those people (and maybe some others, preemptively) would benefit from someone suggesting they not do it. As I have often been told ... if it doesn't apply to you, it's not intended for you. If it does apply to you, you need to hear it. Want to get upset that someone didn't do the same for the men in the firm? Poor men, not getting any help?

By TimT on 2013 11 01, 12:58 pm CDT

To my male brethren, please stop trying to make corporate men out of our sisters. These woman should be allowed to be themselves. I have always judged the speaker based upon the content of the speech, organizational style and knowledge of the subject matter. You must quit punishing smart women just because they are attractive. This also happens to men but to a lesser degree. The ladies have worked hard in a hostile male dominated environment to get to where they are, please don't take away their feminine "aura." A world without flowers would be a dark place to live.

By JAW on 2013 11 01, 1:07 pm CDT

I attended a state bar association CLE presentation late in October. While there, I directly observed several groups of young female attorneys who refused to stop talking to each other, who brought catalogs and magazines to pass back and forth, who spent much of the time sharing photos with each other from their phones, who collected breakfast orders from their table and left and returned in the middle of a presentation with coffee and bagels, and who generally made the experience miserable for those sitting around them. I did not observe any similar behavior from male attorneys of any age attending the presentation. If I knew the firm(s) to which these female attorneys belonged, I would have contacted their managing partners with the hopes that some etiquette tips would be given. The attorneys represent their firms, and the managing partners SHOULD be telling the attorneys about their expectations for the public perception created by juvenile and unprofessional habits and behaviors. Kudos to the Women's Committee for telling it straight rather than being concerned with political correctness at the expense of company reputation!

By Realist on 2013 11 01, 1:17 pm CDT

And most importantly, get off my lawn!

By linovo on 2013 11 01, 1:46 pm CDT

#15, was that really their list for men? It is HILARIOUS!! Good job, if you wrote it.
#12, agree for the most part. However, I have been amazed and horrified at how many women recently out of law school are, truly, clueless about professional conduct. The cluelessness isn't limited to women, but it seems to disproportionately affect them. The list was undoubtedly a terrible idea, but individual mentoring is absolutely essential.

By hahahaha on 2013 11 01, 2:17 pm CDT

On the one hand, was this member of the Women's Committee male? If so, what is he doing on there? On the other hand, sex sells and woman have UM the assets that can captivate an audience

By EJF on 2013 11 01, 2:25 pm CDT

@17 These women should be allowed to be themselves? Why? If men aren't allowed to be themselves, why should women be allowed to be themselves? They can take the advice and get ahead or they can ignore it and wonder why they aren't successful. And like some men, some of them will be so talented and capable (or charismatic) that they can blatantly ignore the rules and be successful anyway (or maybe even because of it).

By TimT on 2013 11 01, 3:01 pm CDT

Sounds like sound advice to me.

By Legal Lass on 2013 11 01, 3:11 pm CDT

I liked reading all these comments, and enjoyed the good humor (even if it wasn't entirely intended). Even though there is clearly a divide among women and men lawyers, I think there tends to be mutual respect based on competence. I work in a practice area that is largely woman dominated, and emotional intelligence is something that many clients look for. Some of my clients have even intimated that they specifically sought out a woman attorney. I do some litigation and many years back used to coach moot court and think that each of us needs to discover our individual voice and presence in the courtroom for maximum effectiveness.

By Barb C on 2013 11 01, 3:11 pm CDT

B. McLeod @ 1 hit the fingernail on its head. This list fits right in the "progressive" movement for special mentoring of women attorneys, including the one touted by the female Pres of the ABA. Can't have it both ways -- focus on mentoring women attorneys, but don't give them any tips on how to be successful!. Completing this sexist circuit/circus, those tips for success can only come from women attorneys. Spare us guys from such ridiculousness.

By Realist on 2013 11 01, 3:13 pm CDT

I don't understand the flap about this. It seems reasonable, and young women lawyers tend to have speaking and presentation issues that are different from men. These aren't insulting, and from what I've seen, they can use the advice. I'm tired of news organizations trying to create "news" out of nothing or something that warrants, at most, the mildest level of offense.

By Long-Time Woman Lawyer on 2013 11 01, 3:18 pm CDT

Read them all...didn't think they were actually a bad group of recommendations for ANY young lawyer getting their feet wet with speaking in public! I think it has been sensationalized just a tad! (In my 33rd year at the bar, so maybe I'm more tolerant?)

By Georgia Langsam on 2013 11 01, 4:19 pm CDT

I agree with you LTWL@26. I can't get there. It was mildly offensive but only because it was patronizing and condescending. Sexist? Nowhere in this memo does it suggest or spefically state that women are instrinsically inferior due to the fact that they are women. It seems to me that the main reason it's perceived as sexist and belittling is because of the perception that a man wrote it for women. But did one? No-one has established that fact. Living/working in the Bay Area, maybe the next generation of these memos is to our LGBT associates/colleagues warning them against their natural proclivities. Horrors: dont' be gay, whatever you do. I don't know. But I what I did get from this was a general fear of sexuality. Good old American Puritanical responses that do not have anything to do with the 21st century. Put it away people. What's wrong with being a woman with a high voice (other than it annoys me personally but studies have shown that men respond much more positively and quickly to women with high voices!)? What's wrong with cleavage and nice legs? Just because I wear a D-Cup doesn't mean all my brains, personality and charm are in my bra. Nor does having great gams make me less able to speak intelligently. Living in NorCal with my children in their 20's I fear I do sometimes sound like a Valley Girl because I pick up their speech patterns and vernacular. I'm not averse to peppering my talk with local vernacular so long as it doesn't dilute the message and discredit me and my company. However - I'm old enough and smart enough to take measurement of my audience and guage their reactions. And, by the way, the whole "peep show" warning given about sitting on panel? I don't remember the last panel I was on or conference that I attended where the panelists' table didn't have a tablecloth on it. That speaks more to the author than the potential speaker - i'm pretty sure. Later Dudes.

By NorCal CO on 2013 11 01, 4:22 pm CDT

I think this is interesting. I would never dream of telling a woman how to dress, how to act, how to talk as far as "a woman's behavior." However, general suggestions for both men and women should be welcomed if they help them improve their communication skills, avoid distracting behavior and help them show what they have in terms of expertise.

By JAW on 2013 11 01, 4:26 pm CDT

I was upset by the article and the comments. Why would a firm target just the woman with suggestions presented in the article? Is it because they felt women disproportionately had these attributes? That women are not smart enough (as their male colleagues are) to realize you don't show your discrete parts during a professional presentation? The selected excerpts from the list were quite obnoxious.

Then I looked at the list. It is actually really good, and very complete. It covers preparation, poise, presentation, voice, standing, sitting, hands, dress, ... you name it. As a public speaker, I see many of these problems in my male counterparts. Therefore, I do believe both men and woman could benefit from the advice. However, coming from the woman's committee (and being on a woman's committee myself), I understand why it was sent to only woman (umm they are trying to help woman succeed).

Maybe this firm did make a mistake in how they handled it, but it is certainly not as egregious as what the article suggests. I actually recommend anyone that wants to present take a look at the list. As I said, it is actually quite complete. Some of the things are no brainers (don't show your discrete parts to the audience), but in the interest in being complete, it is all in there.

By Female Lawyer on 2013 11 01, 4:27 pm CDT

Actually good tips. Just delivered in an inappropriate form. Guys could use them, too.

By Anna Gray on 2013 11 01, 4:43 pm CDT

I suspect that a good deal of the problem is that (1) this was sent only to women and (2) the tone of the list is not ideal--pretty condescending. I read the actual memo, and I must say that I went to a presentation at which much of the gender-specific content was discussed, and it came across much differently in that context. We were able to have a great roundtable discussion about it there, as well.

To #26, my thought is this: I think it strikes a nerve because this is an example of how women are being taught how to enter into the men's environment and thrive; they are being taught how to blend in with men. Here, male behavior = standard behavior. Female behavior = other behavior, which must adapt. This may be the way it is, and it may make it good advice, but it doesn't make it right or comfortable.

By SJ Lawyer on 2013 11 01, 4:56 pm CDT

Hillary Clinton showed cleavage?

By Theresa on 2013 11 01, 5:04 pm CDT

so, lawyers act like children? really? i had no idea

i was sure that lawyers were of a more dignified order

fights between men and women? are you serious?

all this discussion about what is "professional" and "appropriate" -- really?

how about this advice: do your job well, enjoy life, and get over yourselves!!

By LAW STUDENT on 2013 11 01, 5:58 pm CDT

I agree with Anna Gray in #31 above. I read the list, and I thought that most of it was the kind of tangible, real world, actually usable tips that most of desired in college or law school but never actually received. It seems to me that anyone who does not have experience in persuasive public speaking or training could benefit from the majority of the tips. In fact, I tried to print it out because I frequently mentor students who could use this type of direct, tangible advice.

The list should not have been distributed solely to the women. This act reflects a number of types of gender bias: 1) that women would not come to the firm with this background; 2) that men would already have this information; and, 3) that no man at the firm would ever need it. Not only was this action thoughtless, it was condescending to the women and, possibly, disadvantaged the men.

By LawGirl on 2013 11 01, 6:12 pm CDT

Sounds like sound advice to me. I suppose the problem lies in the fact that very few female attorneys who have risen to the rank of addressing the public actually need this advice. I regularly make criminal and civil court appearances and i've never seen one. This advice is better suited for the girls at the receptionist desk. But then, they'll never be making public speeches....

By You call this coffee!? on 2013 11 01, 6:13 pm CDT

I agree with Attorney (comment number 9). I also agree with #17. #31 made me laugh out loud. Men, don't rock back on your heels; and don't take your purse up with you... I guess that takes me back to comment #17. LOL!

By Steve on 2013 11 01, 7:46 pm CDT

This whole thing is making me giggle. Oh, wait...

By Way Out West on 2013 11 01, 8:20 pm CDT

I'm concerned about the lack of common sense exhibited by Chance's top people.

By Frank Martin on 2013 11 01, 8:40 pm CDT

I'm a "recovering" lawyer and am now an administrator at a large firm. Part of my work includes serving as diversity director, and part of that is working with the women's initiative.

A couple observations: 1) Sending this out to women isn't sexist and doesn't imply that only the women need the advice. The women's initiative only sends stuff to women, ergo, only women received it. 2) You might be shocked at the number of women (men too, but we're talking about women right now) who need this advice and have no idea how to behave in a professional manner. They're only offended because they don't have the ability to recognize that they've been making fools of themselves.

I'm so tired of seeing female attorneys, often young associates, protest being given certain advice because it's condescending, demeaning, sexist, etc. People wouldn't bother drafting the advice and sending it out if it wasn't necessary. Partners aren't going to waste their time putting together advice for which they've never noticed a need (okay, okay, most partners won't).

It's also exhausting to continually see female partners dressed in sleeveless dresses and strappy heeled sandals complaining about the female associates unprofessional attire. Really ladies? They see you as the sign of success and are following your lead.

Women's initiatives across the country are doing their best to provide support and guidance to women attorneys. At some point instead of bitching about it maybe some of the women ought to pay attention and consider saying "thank you." They would be far better off it they actuallly used the advice rather than spending time sending it to news outlets. Is the Clifford Chance memo perfect? No. Are many of the tips helpful? Yes.

Sorry for the rant. Can you tell I'm perturbed and irritated with young women who continually make fools of themselves instead of bothering to take helpful advice? My favorite is a female associate of ours who complains bitterly about not being included in client meetings and other things, but refuses to take advice about not coming to work looking like she's headed to the club. The attorneys don't want to introduce her to their clients because they're embarrassed about her attire. She's otherwise a star, but will never make partner. Or, the associate who can't make partner becuase she's a loose cannon. She's the first one to tell you that she is and that the behavior holds her back. She won't take any action to resolve the situation, yet cries and complains constantly that she isn't making partner. Those are only anecdotal stories, but I see so many of them at my and other firms on a regular basis.

It just sickens me to see young women lose opportunities over things that are so easily correctable, especially when their work is excellent. Please, please, please, start taking the advice in the spirit in which it was intended. Maybe the CC memo didn't come across perfectly, but someone made an effort to do something to help you. Give her the benefit of the doubt for having a good intent.

By Jill on 2013 11 01, 8:54 pm CDT

Please excuse my typos and punctuation issues above. I was on a roll. :)

By Jill on 2013 11 01, 8:55 pm CDT

LOL. Rolling backwards on my high heels. Now you got to give women credit for that one, no man can walk in those things. It's scary. They are far superior to us, they don't need any advice.

By JAW on 2013 11 01, 8:55 pm CDT

Jill - I am glad you are not the diversity director at my firm. The fact that some of the memo is not offensive does not discount the fact that some of it is. Go back and read the memo and imagine a similar memo EVER being made or disseminated to the male attorneys - don't forget to wear a suit, put on a tie, come your hair - it would be ridiculous. So is this. Try substituting race or nationality and pepper alleged good advice in the memo with racial or nationally biased stereotype comments. You would not think it was "benevolent" and would more easily see that it is offensive. That you claim to have some associates in your firm here and there of either sex who don't quite have their act together yet is no reason to circulate such a memo to all women attorneys. It's a lame excuse for disseminating a memo on the tenor of advice you would give a teenager - condescending and talking downwards to all the women. IWhether someone is or is not well-intentioned is also not an excuse for biased behavior. Benevolent bias is still bias. Hard to believe you are part of the women's initiative. Those women should have the initiative to ask for a substitute.

By Elsie on 2013 11 01, 10:17 pm CDT

More fundamentally, this incident illustrates a common facet of BigLaw idiocy. In a small firm, if you see a new associate screwing up and in obvious need of a few tips, you walk down the hall to their office, and you talk to them constructively about a better way to do what they were trying to do, or maybe a practice or habit that it would be better to avoid.

By contrast, some partner in a BigLaw firm sees an associate or two with a similar issue, and it's time for a moronic memo (like the one in the story) to every associate and staff attorney in the entire firm. Every time. They just can't help themselves. Typically the associates who sparked the memo then miss the significance entirely, while all the others are wondering why the firm sent around such an ignorant freaking firmwide communication. Of course, when it gets published to the entire world (like this one) the firm looks unusually stupid.

By B. McLeod on 2013 11 02, 12:40 am CDT

I was initially indignant about this memo, but I admit I'm ambivalent upon reflection. I'm at a Midwestern AMLAW 200 firm. Most of the male litigators adopt the same persona that I imagine the Firm's Founding Father's developed 130 years ago…

The Demeanor: calm, mildly-self-effacing, witty-yet-humble, I'm-really-a-good-country-boy-in-a-fancy-suit-who's-position-is-both-just-and-legally-sound, delivered in a faintly-relaxed-yet-rhythmic-cadence.

My young male contemporaries – the New Guard – dawn this character effortlessly. Meanwhile, I tried to emulate The Firm Persona. It fell worse than flat (imagine Sarah Jessica Parker trying to seriously impersonate Rush Limbaugh. Yeah. It was that bad). The Firm Persona (the product of 130 years of trial "trial and error") quite frankly cannot be played by a woman.

Naturally, I looked to senior women in litigation to see what appearance The Firm Females had adopted… only there were none. Worse than there being no coherent Female Firm Persona, there simply are NO SENIOR FEMALE LITIGATORS TO EMULATE.

Without a role model, young female litigators make do with what we have. And that is ourselves. And Ally McBeal. God help us.

And guess what. The makeshift character we slog together from inexperience and a twig pales in comparison to The Firm Persona crafted over the past 130 years.

I am willing to bet that many of my male contemporaries do not need to read The Article In Question. They have been given a personality to apply for the next 50 years of their careers, and that personality happens to be a very charismatic public speaker/courtroom orator.

I am not so lucky. I will download this article, read it with a stiff-upper-lip, then "review and revise" my persona-in-the-rough accordingly.

All of that said, I think Clifford Chance probably could have attempted to rectify its obviously failed mentoring (as evidenced by the fact that their female associates appear to be as wanting for direction as I am) with more tact. And perhaps have started the article with an apology for failing, miserably, at providing role models and guidance to roughly half of its associates.

By Ms_Legalesy on 2013 11 02, 2:30 am CDT

While most women dress appropriately in business or courtroom settings, some do not. I have seen female attorneys come to court in what looked like a sweatshirt and sweatpants. Some wear sundresses. Then, younger female attorneys see this and may get the mistaken idea that this is appropriate. When judges try to address this they are often viewed as sexist, even though these same judges would also chastise a male attorney if he showed up without a jacket and tie. As a result, many judges now say nothing to female attorneys about their attire. Some of this may also be a result of tradition. As a male attorney, I may not always be aware of how to dress in casual situations but I certainly know how to dress for court--a minimum of a jacket and tie, and in certain situations, a minimum of a suit and tie. If you are called to court unexpectedly, do what I have done--go as you are but explain and apologize to the court for your appearance. For those who want to call these comments sexist, I respect my female colleagues. I refer clients to female attorneys because those attorneys are the best I know. I graduated with a law school class of 51% women and acknowledge that many of them did better than me in school and in their legal careers. In other words, I view females as my equals. I think it is sad that the sexist card gets pulled out so quickly. Ask yourself if you would be outraged over a female judge demanding that a male attorney wear a jacket and tie in her courtroom.

By Small Town Lawyer on 2013 11 02, 3:06 pm CDT

@12: Sounds like some form of envy.

@15: Who among us, perhaps other than Charisse Thompson and Peter Meltzer, can confidently explain the infield fly rule?

By Esquite on 2013 11 02, 3:12 pm CDT

So glad, um, that this list, like, came out for we women with our small little brains and embarrassingly high voices, so that, um, like we can become better speakers by becoming like men.

My favorite on the list is the note that my voice is higher than I might think. God forbid my voice comes out high - gasp - people might actually notice I am a WOMAN, and we don't want them to notice that!

As far as I am concerned, this list didn't go far enough. It should have said "shave your head" - long hair might make listeners think you are weak. Obviously, anything that allows listeners to think you are a woman might make your case weak because we know how undesirable that is. And one other tip, women: You can buy facial hair at a Halloween store and feel free to take hormonal supplements so your voice drops - then maybe listeners won't look at you as a woman anymore and then and only then will you be able to be a successful speaker.

By Thanks for the Tips on 2013 11 02, 4:47 pm CDT

Admittedly I'm in a crabby mood tonight, but I had to stop reading the comments after a while. I can't believe people are actually complaining about this. Granted I'm not female, but there is nothing sexist or condescending about this as I see it. Should this list have been distributed to the men as well? Who cares? This was a list devised by the WOMEN'S committee... never worked in Big Law, but the guess here is that they are tasked with mentoring young women and trying to ensure that all women in the firm have a chance to succeed. This is "condescending" only to the extent that older folks condescend towards younger people when 'advising' them. Admittedly others may be better positioned to chime in... I'm willing to stand corrected.

By The Artist Formerly Known As Bakes on 2013 11 03, 2:50 am CST

Of course you never worked in BigLaw (pretty much goes without saying). But yes, when it comes to "mentoring," THIS is how many of them try to do that. Total fail.

By B. McLeod on 2013 11 03, 5:41 am CST

This is interesting discussion for the "diversity" committees. Non-white, underrepresented, . . . , groups also get this type of advice as suggestions for coming up to snuff and being successful. People get offended because either or both of: 1) the suggestions sound condescending to those who consider themselves capable and competent and 2) the suggestions seem to be pushing the white male as the standard, which flies in the face of the "diversity" conversation. Diversity is not about having people who look different doing the same thing and sharing the same ideas.

By thoroughly_disgusted on 2013 11 03, 8:34 am CST

Got McLeod has no problem with a law school outright LYING to prospective students about graduates' employment and earnings statistics, but YOU BETTER NOT tell a woman to exercise tasteful clothing discretion before a speech!

By Adamius on 2013 11 03, 10:57 pm CST

You kind of have to be the kind of feminist who looks for feminism violations where they don't exist to get offended at these tips. In no way do the tips suggest that ALL women do the things that are advised against, or even that MANY do. At most it suggests that without being so advised, there would perhaps be SOMEONE who might make one or more of these mistakes. I think somehow the world will survive.

By Adamius on 2013 11 03, 11:03 pm CST

Wow, this story has nothing whatsoever to do with law schools or hapless mooncalves. What a completely off-topic way to inject crybaby complaints about how you witlessly fell for the statistics from the bad, bad law schools, and never have been able to get a job. (Maybe the problem is you).

By B. McLeod on 2013 11 03, 11:38 pm CST

To Anonymous @ 2: you do not have to be blind to reality in order not to be sexist. But you DO have to be blind to reality to be a self-righteous progressive / liberal / feminist who is always offended about something or another.

By Just Some Bloke on 2013 11 04, 11:43 pm CST

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