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Robert Winner

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Controversy about law firm memo to female employees

The international law fir Clifford Chance sent a memo out to female employees with suggestions for a more professional impression. This included: Don't giggle: don't take your purse to the podium; wear a suit not your party outfit; No one heard Hilary the day she showed cleavage.

This has been viewed as a insult to women. Perhaps if that is the way you wish to view it ... or could it be reminders from older more experienced members of the firm.

Perhaps there were some instances that inspired the memo ... and maybe it was just written by a sexist pig.

Would it be better to address all issues personally and make them a matter of record ... Three strikes your out ... Or is the memo a good idea?

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    Oct 31 2013: I would not take it as an insult either but I could see how a gigglish person could take offense since that is more of a personal behavior characteristic; I would imagine they have a company dress code where they could also include some other expectations they might have. In my opinion though, this standardization of what we call 'professional look' makes a very monotonous and predictable landscape of people wearing the 'professionality' costumes.
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      Oct 31 2013: My guess is that it is not the gigglish person or the unprofessionally dressed person who might be insulted. In a big international law firm, I would expect only a small minority need such a reminder. Meanwhile, as the letter goes viral, all the highly professional female Clifford Chance attorneys may now feel that the world believes that their firm is a carnival of giggly women in party dresses who dig into their handbags at the podium.
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        Oct 31 2013: Great point Fritzie. By attempting to solve a small problem they have created a international image issue. They will forever be examined by everyone who associates with them. The managers who assign cases would not assign a giggler to a murder case as an example or maybe not to any cases and do research only. Not my area ... just thinkin .... The image may now be that the females are party girls .. not professional lawyers. This memo may have opened a can of worms they did not want. Again, good point.

        Bob.
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          Oct 31 2013: Robert,
          A person CAN be a party person AND a professional lawyer. It depends on what persona a person chooses to use at any given time. A person who is aware, will present the appropriate persona at the appropriate time and place:>)

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