The American law firm Clifford Chance issued a patronising memo telling women not to show cleavage or dress inappropriately
Since I qualified as a lawyer more than 30 years ago, the profession has worked hard to shake off its female-unfriendly image. Reading a recently leaked memo from a Magic Circle firm, however, I am reminded that not everything has changed.
The memo, titled ‘speaking effectively’, was circulated among US-based female lawyers at Clifford Chance, with an entire section devoted to fashion. Gems of advice included: “Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe” and: “No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage.”
“Female associates are very upset by not only the elementary nature of the tips themselves, but by the suggestion that these would only apply to women,” noted one recipient. “This is beyond the pale.”
The memo followed the recent publication of a blog post by a trainee solicitor at a London firm, which advised women not to wear red bras and trashy heels. The post was swiftly deleted, after the firm decided that some of the language used was “inappropriate.”
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