Sexist Law Firm Memo Tells Women to 'Practice Hard Words'

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A major international law firm probably has very capable women on its payroll. But tell that to a women's committee at Clifford Chance.

Above the Law published a leaked memo from the firm to women with a series of ridiculous reminders like "Don't hide behind your hair."

There are some reasonable tips for giving presentations, including a reminder not to "drop your volume at the end of a sentence," and another not to read presentation notes verbatim.


But many went "beyond the pale," as the memo tipster said.

"Female associates are very upset by not only the elementary nature of the tips themselves," she wrote in an email to Above the Law, "but the suggestion that these would only apply to women."

Here are a handful of the most outrageous tips:

"Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe."

"Don't take your purse up to the podium."

"Look out for anything on which you might trip on the way up to the podium & around it."


"No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage."

"If wearing a skirt, make sure audiences can't see up it when sitting on the dais."


If you recognize the firm's name, it might be because of this departure memo from last year.

Clifford Chance wrote in a statement that, "The original presentation and associated tips represented a personal perspective, shared with a group of colleagues, some just starting out in their careers. The more than 150 points are based on what this individual has found helpful as a public speaker in a broad range of business environments. While much of what is covered is common sense, we believe that it is important that women as well as men are given access to a range of different viewpoints and approaches; there is no Clifford Chance template on how people should present. The offense caused by a small percentage of the suggestions in the tip sheet was entirely unintentional."


Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.

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