Women’s Issues

It’s been a hell of a week for knowing what to wear.

Judge Richard Kopf blogged about “being a dirty old man and how young women lawyers dress,” weighing in on the latest debate about proper attire for women in law.

The story of Sunnie Kahle also emerged. (Gavel bang: Ann Althouse.) Sunnie is an eight-year-old Virginia girl whose grandparents reported to news media that Sunnie had been booted from her school for not being sufficiently girly. The story of a tomboy expelled for bucking hyper-conservative Christian notions of femininity set the internet ablaze with headlines like “Little Girl Taken Out of Christian School After Told She’s Too Much Like a Boy.”

In both of these stories, others are telling females how to look acceptably feminine. Judge Kopf instructs female lawyers not to appear overtly sexual. School officials instruct Sunnie not to appear overtly boyish. In each case, the powers that be seem to dictate the narrow swath between too-feminine and not-feminine-enough. Women and girls must be recognizably female while not spotlighting the sex traits that make them female.

That’s one gloss.

Here’s another. Let’s talk about sex and uniforms . . . .

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Too slutty, Your Honor?

Does what women wear to work matter? Of course it does, especially in a profession where looks are valued almost as highly as other qualities expected of a good lawyer, like exemplary analytical and interpersonal skills.

When we say “looks” here, we mean a lawyer’s ability to dress appropriately given the circumstances, but being attractive certainly doesn’t hurt. Men are basically given a free pass. So long as they don’t show up to court looking like they just rolled out of a dumpster, they’ll be given the respect they’re due.

Women, on the other hand, don’t have a uniform that they can wear to court like their male colleagues, and that’s where the trouble begins. Women lawyers have been told countless times to resist the urge to dress like harlots, with style suggestions ranging from the incredibly obvious (be wary of skirts too short and necklines too low) to the incredibly absurd (“think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe”).

The sick thing is that most of these style advisories have come from other women. Don’t follow trends? You’re look too frumpy. Follow too many trends? You look too skanky. A federal judge recently called attention to this perverse gender bias, but perhaps he could’ve used some more delicate language.

Calling all “ignorant sluts”…

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What is more abhorrent than violence against women? But when…. everything is domestic violence, nothing is. Congress will have to come up with a new word (I cannot imagine what it would be) to denote actual domestic violence.

– Justice Antonin Scalia, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in United States v. Castleman. (Gavel bang: Josh Blackman.)

* Professor Ann Althouse’s analysis of today’s Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood arguments before SCOTUS. [Althouse]

* Professor Nelson Tebbe’s take on the proceedings. [Balkinization]

* Finally, a very Jezebel assessment: “Supreme Court Prepares to F**k Up This Birth Control Thing.” [Jezebel]

* “JUDGE TO PORN TROLLS: IP Addresses Aren’t People.” [Instapundit]

* YouTube videos and text messages surface in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. [IT-Lex]

* “Her” was an excellent movie — and it might contain lessons for lawyers and the legal profession, as John Hellerman argues. [Hellerman Baretz]

Justice Ginsburg: But I’m a cheerleader! (Or was, back in the day.)

* Justice Ginsburg was a hottie back in the day (as well as a cheerleader, aka a “Twirler”). [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* “When a Juror Calls You a Motherf*cker” (or, how not to get out of jury duty). [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Professor Edward Morrison returns to Columbia Law, after a very short stint at U. Chicago — maybe he missed his fabulous Lawyerly Lair in Manhattan? [Columbia Law School]

* Speaking of CLS faculty members with multimillion-dollar townhouses, congratulations to Sarah Cleveland on her nomination to serve as an independent expert on the Human Rights Committee. [Columbia Law School]

* After getting a cease-and-desist letter, this Maine bakery renamed the controversial treat “C&D” — well played, Little Bigs Bakery, well played. [WMTV.com]

* In the wake of the latest “no cleavage” memo, which made the pages of the New York Daily News, Amanda Hess conducts a comprehensive survey of this odious genre. [Slate]

* Social media isn’t a panacea, but it can be important and useful, and lawyers should use it responsibly — so check out these new Social Media Ethics Guidelines for Attorneys. [New York State Bar Association]

Juan Monteverde and Alexandra Marchuk

Last week, we wrote about lawyers leaving Faruqi & Faruqi, the litigation boutique that’s locked in an ugly legal battle with a former associate, Alexandra Marchuk. Marchuk’s lawsuit accuses F&F partner Juan Monteverde of severe sexual harassment and alleges that the firm’s leaders turned a blind eye to his misconduct.

We asked our readers for more information about the recent Faruqi departures. Well, ask and you shall receive. We have the details on the lawyers who left — as well as info about how Faruqi is looking for laterals, and how much it pays them (hint: not enough)….

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Wait, law students aren’t supposed to do this?

If you’re a woman working in the legal profession, the odds are already stacked high against you, especially if you want to work for a large law firm. You’ll likely be paid less than your male colleagues. You’ll find that your life’s work has been reduced to a diversity talking point. Motherhood might as well be a crime. You can’t even dress yourselves without assistance.

We’ve heard about that last point of contention from law schools, multiple bar associations (see here and here), and even law firms. The latest slight against women comes from yet another law school, one perhaps too eager to assure potential employers that its female students exude the sensibilities of Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe.

How many times do women in the law need to be told not to dress like streetwalkers? Enough already…

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Kristen Saban

* The Fortune 500′s top women lawyers have a message for you. There is a ton of female talent out there, and you’ll probably have a woman at the head of your legal department very, very soon — whether you like it or not. [Corporate Counsel]

* Cornell Law’s new dean would definitely be a contender if we still ran those Law School Dean Hotties contests. Welcome, Eduardo Peñalver. First task: resolve the tie at #13 in the latest U.S. News law school rankings. [Cornell Chronicle]

* Cleveland-Marshall Law has a new “risk-free” degree. Just go for one year. If you hate it, you can drop out, but you’ll have a master of legal studies — which is better than one-third of a J.D. [National Law Journal]

* Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, the man who has emphatically and repeatedly denied that he’s Bitcoin’s creator, hired a law firm to continue to spread his denials across the globe. Wow. Such lawyer. [Newsmax]

* This catfight could use some mud: A lawyer for Sarah Grimes, the sorority girl who came to blows with Nick Saban’s daughter and sued, pledged to take his client’s case to the state’s highest court. [AL.com]

As you’ve likely heard, last Friday ATL hosted its inaugural Attorney@Blog conference at the Yale Club in New York. The conference comprised a series of lively, informative, and occasionally profane panel discussions on topics near to our heart: free speech, hate speech, the state of legal journalism, and technical trends. By all accounts, a good time was had by both the panelists and attendees, and we can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

As befitting a social media-themed conference, the day was heavily tweeted, with our hashtag (#AttyAtBlog) managing to trend for hours. Read on for a round-up of the day’s top tweets.

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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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