Public Speaking for (Hot, Sexy) Lady Lawyers
From the “guess what, big law firms are still playgrounds for clueless white men” files: a memo circulated through Clifford Chance’s U.S. offices that gave women helpful tips for public speaking. Some of these tips:
- You’ve got to lose the “Um” and “Uh,” “You Know,” “OK,” and “Like.”
- Use a relaxed, open throat, breathe from the abdomen, and keep your mouth open.
- Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe.
- Don’t giggle, don’t squirm, and don’t tilt your head.
- Practice hard words.
- Wear a suit, not your party outfit.
- No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage.
The tips are, of course, sexist.
You know what else is sexist? The fact that a mass e-mail from a “Women’s Committee” member to all the female associates in the U.S. is what passes for effort to retain and promote women in Big Law. As my friend @LedaGaytrix pointed out upon learning of this memo, “Firms direct advice to women to make up for lack of mentors, not because only women need the tips.” Patronizing, arms-length “mentoring” like this probably has something to do with why women don’t stick around in Big Law: they’re rare among power players at the most influential firms, despite outnumbering men among law school graduates. Maybe firms like Clifford Chance should do more than simply set up a Women’s Committee and fail to monitor the members’ e-mails. If they really care about retaining and promoting their female associates, that is.