Law firm advises female attorneys not to squirm, giggle and to ‘practice hard words’

By George Chidi
Sunday, October 27, 2013 17:02 EDT
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Woman lawyer in boxing gloves via Shutterstock
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Whatever you do, female graduates of top law schools working at a major international law firm, don’t giggle, or tilt your head while talking, or let an audience see your skirt.

These gems of wisdom are some of the advice given in a memo from Clifford Chase, a global law firm based in London with offices around the world, to its female legal associates. Titled “Presentation Tips for Women,” the firm distributed the memo by a member of the Women’s Committee to all women associates across the U.S. offices of Clifford Chance, according to the legal insider site Above the Law.

Much of the 150 pieces of advice might be considered noncontroversial tips for public speaking around posture and breathing, eye contact and the like. But the gender-specific tips like how to wear a skirt or “think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe” might be considered sexist.

The patronizing advice includes tips like practicing hard words, “Wear a suit, not your party outfit,” and “No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage.”

The firm responded to a request for an explanation by Above the Law. In reply, Clifford Chase said that the memo “represented a personal perspective” of one of the firm’s leaders, and that “the offense caused by a small percentage of the suggestions in the tip sheet was entirely unintentional.” The firm did not identify the author of the piece.

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