Law Firm That Says Smart Women Don't Talk Like Marilyn Monroe Makes A Good Point

Imagine this scenario: you graduated at the top of your class, spent countless hours studying for and crying over the Bar Exam, racked up 30 gazillion dollars in student loans, and, thanks to your intelligence and perseverance, nabbed yourself a job at a prestigious law firm. Good for you!

Then you open your email and see this memo, which has been sent to you and your female colleagues and lists a million things that you -- oh, scatterbrained sweetie pie that you are -- shouldn't be doing as a woman in the courtroom. Obviously, you say "uh" and "like" and "you know" waaay too much, and you can blame your bubbleheaded sorority days for that, but did you know you should also stop dressing in so much chic black (goth is a turn-off) or that you really ought to quit giggling? 

Clifford Chance certainly shows many women the light with this memo. But brace yourself because it's actually not all bad advice. 


Look, most of the memo is patronizing and speaks to women as if we are buffoons. Some of its more intolerable points include:

Wear a suit, not your party outfit.

Don't dress like a mortician: if you're wearing a black suit, wear something bright

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

But wait. Before you dismiss Clifford Chance as a law firm that has its misogynist head up its you-know-what, some of the advice given in this memo is worthwhile. For example:

Your voice is higher than you hear. 

Sound your age. Resonate: fill up your mouth with your voice.

Don't raise your pitch at the end of a statement if it's not a question.

Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is when grown women speak in teeny Minnie Mouse voices in order to sound adorable. And its an even more egregious offense to use that little girl voice in the workplace because you not only set yourself back a million years, but you fail to do the rest of us any favors. 

I dont think it hurts to remind women that our voices can be powerful or pathetic and that we are judged as much on the way we speak as the clothes we wear. I could do without the firm's icky advice on cleavage, but I wouldn't toss this memo in the wastebasket, either.

What do you think about the law firm's advice to women?


Image Via Scott Robinson/Flickr

Read More >