Sexism

Helen Hulick (photo credit: Andrew H. Arnott)

Helen Hulick (photo credit: Andrew H. Arnott)

You tell the judge I will stand on my rights. If he orders me to change into a dress I won’t do it. I like slacks. They’re comfortable…. I’ll come back in slacks and if he puts me in jail I hope it will help to free women forever of anti-slackism.

– Helen Hulick, a teacher who was set to testify at a trial in 1938, in response to being ordered by Judge Arthur Guerin to wear a dress, rather than pants, so as not to “hinder the administration of justice.”

Hulick returned to court for her next appearance wearing pants, and Judge Guerin held her in contempt, sentencing her to five days in jail. Hulick’s favorite pair of slacks were taken from her while she was in jail, but her contempt charge was later overturned by an appellate court.

This is a lawmaker? Like, a person who makes laws? This person has no business anywhere near laws that affect women or other human beings.

Jess McIntosh, a spokeswoman for EMILY’s List, a women’s political action committee, commenting on remarks made by New Hampshire Rep. Steve Vaillancourt about Rep. Ann McLane Kuster’s bid for re-election.

(This weekend, Vaillancourt compared Kuster to an unattractive drag queen in a blog post, further wondering, “Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin? And I hope I haven’t offended sin.” Ouch.)

This stock photo of a leather-clad woman motorcyclist is topical rather than gratuitous, we’re sorry to say.

Isn’t it nice when appellate courts hear oral argument at law schools? It’s great for bench-bar relations for the judges to leave their marble palace and spend some time with the legal community. It’s great for law students to see what real-world litigation looks like without having to leave campus. It’s generally a win-win situation for all involved.

But a recent calendar at a New York law school didn’t go so smoothly. The legal profession has a sexism problem, but there’s no need for judges to demonstrate it by directing sleazy quips at women lawyers arguing before them….

(Please note the UPDATE, featuring the identity of the judge in question.)

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Jordan Belfort

Last night, I attended a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Y featuring some very interesting individuals — including two lawyers. Thane Rosenbaum, the law professor and novelist, moderated a panel featuring former federal prosecutor Daniel Alonso, CNBC anchor Kelly Evans, and the “star” of the evening, Jordan Belfort — the disgraced stockbroker turned convicted felon turned bestselling author who served as the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film, The Wolf of Wall Street.

So what was the evening like? One attendee described it as “cringeworthy” — and I have to agree….

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You remember that movie Ghost World? Me neither. It starred that girl from American Beauty and that girl from Lost in Translation and Steve Buscemi Eyes and the kid from The Client (R.I.P.). But none of that matters! What matters for our purposes today is that the plot involved signs from something called Coon Chicken Inn. Spoiler alert: that place actually existed! It was a chain of three fried chicken restaurants that trafficked in succulent breast meat and crazy f**king racism. According to its wiki entry, Coon Chicken Inn even possessed trademarks. Real, valid, honest-to-God trademarks.

This week, the Washington Redskins were adjudged to be more racist than Coon Chicken Inn. Well, not exactly. Specifically, the Redskins trademark was cancelled on the grounds that it was “disparaging to Native Americans.” You can read Elie’s take and the actual decision itself here.

But what if I told you that Coon Chicken Inn was just the tip of the racist iceberg? What if I told you that same iceberg is racist sexist, and homophobic? Is that an iceberg you would be interested in investigating?

Let’s muck around in the fever swamps of America’s offensive trademarks and the shaky legal edifice that has been erected around them, shall we?

We shall…

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Why won’t anyone take her seriously? It’s clearly the shoes.

Women’s fashion choices are the whipping boy (or girl) of the legal profession. At least every other month, women attorneys get lectured by bar associations, Biglaw firms, law schools, and even federal judges on the way that they ought to dress themselves, from head to toe.

This time, we’ve got an attorney/image consultant riding on his conservative horse to herald the good word from on high that women lawyers dare not dream of dressing fashionably, lest they risk their entire careers by wearing peep-toe pumps.

There are only so many times that women can be told not to dress like sluts, but this guy kicks things off with a bang by insulting a “misguided female judge” for her opinions on women’s style…

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‘Have spent all day fending Edna off my graphite shaft.’

We already knew that Biglaw firms aren’t exactly the most friendly places for women. We already knew that some male lawyers are still quite miffed that women invaded their good old boys’ clubs. What we didn’t know was that some Biglaw firms would go so far as to essentially sign off on their partners’ extremely sexist views.

Which firm recently found out that one of its partners was involved in a sexist email scandal, and is doing absolutely nothing about it?

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* A DLA Piper partner was cleared by the firm in connection with a string of sexist emails exchanged with a client because real lads don’t get in trouble for such trifling behavior. We’ll have more on this later. [Am Law Daily]

* Patton Boggs partners started voting on the firm’s merger with Squire Sanders yesterday. Apparently there’s at least one partner who will not be allowed to join the new firm because of prior conduct. Sucks to be you, guy. [Reuters]

* “It’s the best way to prepare for a whole variety of things.” Right now is one of the best times to go to law school, say California law school deans who really need to get asses in empty seats. [Daily Transcript]

* “We are a better people than what these laws represent.” Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage was struck down yesterday, making it the 14th victory in a row for the marriage equality movement. [Bloomberg]

* Showtime just bought a law firm comedy about “four smartass, workaholic associates” in Biglaw trying to make partner and avoid being murdered by the office serial killer at the same time. Uh, yeah. [Deadline]

I’m not sure you want someone with my hourly rate making coffee.

– A California lawyer’s sassy comeback to a colleague at her firm who asked her to brew a pot of coffee.

This is just one of the tidbits that Professor Joan Williams of UC Hastings Law shares in her new book, What Works for Women at Work (affiliate link). Williams notes that professional women are expected to perform office “housework” — like “bring cupcakes for a colleague’s birthday, order sandwiches for office lunches and answer phones in the conference room” — much more often than their male colleagues.

On Friday, we held our inaugural Attorney@Blog conference, a first-of-its-kind convocation of leading legal bloggers. The conference featured a series of panel discussions covering an array of important issues facing the legal blogging community, including free speech, race and gender, and technology. The event was very well-attended, and at several points throughout the day boasted a standing-room-only crowd.

Now that it’s over, we’d like to thank everyone who attended, from our speakers to our guests. A special thanks to our sponsors — Avvo, IBM, Newstex, wireLawyer, IM Creator, Marino Legal, Hellerman Baretz, Good2bSocial, Law Firm Media Professionals, the LGBT Bar Association, the Asian American Bar Association of New York, the New York City Bar, and the Westchester County Bar Association — for making such a great day possible. The Attorney@Blog conference was the perfect blend of academia and audaciousness our audience expects from Above the Law, and we were so happy to be able to share it with you. We can’t wait to do it all over again next year!

If you weren’t able to make it out, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the pictures from a day that was full of fun…

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