October 27, 2013 11:59 pm -

imagesCue Don Draper (even if he isn’t an attorney): it looks as if one white shoe law firm still hasn’t made it to the 21st century:

Clifford Chance, a massive, international law firm employing thousands of elite attorneys, distributed a memo entitled “Presentation Tips for Women” that was better suited for a middle school forensics class than for graduates of the world’s leading law schools. Worse, interspersed between rudimentary pieces of advice such as “Stand up” and “Don’t wave your arms” are a series of often-gendered suggestions that call into question whether one of the world’s largest law firms understands that professional women are fully capable of dressing themselves.

Among the words of advice offered to every single female associate at Clifford Chance are “Don’t dress like a mortician,” “Wear a suit, not your party outfit,” “If wearing a skirt, make sure audience can’t see up it when sitting on the dias,” and — in an odd reference to six year-old sexist news coverage of then-Senator Hillary Clinton — “No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage.”

Nor did the memo stop at advising professional women how to dress. Some other choice words of advice include “Don’t giggle,” “Don’t squirm,” “Practice hard words,” and “’Like’ You’ve got to Lose ‘Um’ and ‘Uh,’ ‘You Know,’ ‘OK,’ and ‘Like.’” In a dated pop cultural reference that’s likely to send many lawyers under the age of 40 to Google in order to remind themselves who Lauren Bacall is, the memo also advises women lawyers to “Sound Your Age” and to “Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe.”

The memo was apparently drafted and distributed by Clifford Chance’s Women’s Committee, leading Above the Law’s Staci Zaretsky to label the memo an “alleged woman-on-woman crime.”

This memo is the second high profile black eye for this particular firm in the last year that raises questions about whether women will be treated with dignity at Clifford Chance.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.