A&O teaches female associates to communicate

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  • How patronising can one get.....

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  • Remember Freshfields' version? It makes A&O look a right-on commune.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1100551/Wear-high-heels-embrace-feminity-Legal-firms-advice-female-lawyers.html

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  • Why is it that women, have to be taught to communicate in a way compatible to men? Are we jumping up and down when male colleagues can't seem to communicate with female clients? It seems a bit of a joke really. Are the clients saying they don't understand female lawyers? From what I can see these issues seem to raise their head as a reason why women aren't being promoted when the reality is women can communicate just fine. Women do not lack skills, ability or gravitas, they may lack some confidence which is usually as a result of constantly being told that they have a lack of skills regardless of whether they do or don't. Promote and recognise women simple.

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  • I don't belive that women need to be taught to communicate in a way which is compatible to men, rather a way which is compatible for everyone. In my experience, women partners often lack the softer skills required to foster good client and staff relationships. A lot of this emmanates from some percieved pressure upon high powered women to act like 'bitches', when this is clearly not necessary.

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  • Hard to tell from the details if this is really targetted at women. But if it is it is really condescending and patronising.

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  • I seem to have be taken away to a different period, a bit like that TV programme about the cop from the 70s. Women don't need communication skills; everyone needs them. Or are we talking about something else, like a working knowledge of the West Ham line-up or the ability to comment on the relative merits of men's bums as they stand at the bar?

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  • Bit odd that its just aimed at associates, and women only too. I think a fair number of partners there could benefit from going on a few management/communication courses.
    Resistance is futile - unless you are mega keen to be a partner (yawn) or have a fetish for photcopiers/crackberrys and playing the gimp escape the MC as soon as you can - you are a long time dead!

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  • So women have to be taught to communicate effectively with the crusty old buffers and thrusting young oiks around the City - shame on you all.

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  • I suspect that in the case of the crusty old buffers, it is they who need to see the light. In many cases it's not how women behave n the workplace that's the issue, it's how their behaviour differs from what might be expected of a "lady" by said crusties.
    That and their complete indifference to the fortunes of Chelsea FC or the merits of fast cars. Endless locker-room chat can feel very exclusive to many women.

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  • The article says "This means ­looking at some of the softer skills - not just for women but for all associates"

    But is targeted at women. There must be some good reason for this? Maybe the women were more interested in participating?

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  • There are some women who need to brush up on their "soft" skills, but there are a lot of men (99% of the profession) who also need to do so (certainly with their female clients and female staff). Since there are more male partners than female partners, if the male partners lead the trend, then it might become a pleasurable experience dealing with lawyers as a whole - I'm sure every woman will be happy to jump on the band wagon once it is up and running......

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  • Far from assisting women, A&O’s actions further stigmatize women in the profession – highlighting their ‘special needs’; reinforcing a subliminal messages of inadequacy.

    We can sing a song of equality and band around ideas of even handedness, but where is the TRUE honesty? Sexism as much as part of contemporary reality as it always has been.

    “We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.” Margaret Atwood quotes (Canadian Writer, b.1939)

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  • I doubt this ability can be taught.

    It is without question that lawyers must be able to communicate forcefully in order to be effective. It is not the only approach, but it must be employed with great regularity.

    It would be more patronising to women to further the pretence that they are, generally speaking, as naturally outspoken and aggressive as men. Thankfully, the profession is full of women who go against norm.

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  • by powerful i take they mean he/she who shouts loudest and with the most expletives thrown in....could be quite a colourful seminar...

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  • As a woman in a senior role in a male-dominated business, who started out in the profession but left not long after qualifying, I'm not sure I agree with commenters who suggest this is patronising. When I was in my twenties I could probably have done with some assertiveness coaching; as it was my confidence in myself and my ability was hard-won. All of us have seen successful people in the workplace whose mediocrity has been magically disguised by overweening self-confidence and self-aggrandizement. To say that this personality type is usually male is not patronising to women; it's a fact.

    I often find that as head of my business I have to assert myself very strongly at the outset of any meeting I attend with my older, male colleague. He reports to me, but everyone there will usually assume he's in charge. As soon as I assert myself, we're all clear - but that's the sort of assumptions I deal with on a daily basis.

    One further comment. I regularly instruct solicitors in the course of my business and I have found that male solicitors' attitudes to me have sometimes been at best patronising and at worst downright insulting. There's a simple solution to that: no more work for you or your firm. I might not say that, but that's the net effect. How much business are these arrogant know-it-alls losing as a result? As someone else suggested, some soft skills for male lawyers may also be in order. Or perhaps a non-gender-specific course aimed at teaching lawyers how to be better communicators.

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  • it should be re-named 'how to communicate with bumptious, self-obsessed, over-educated louts with dysfunctional egos' - the fault is not with women in this instance.

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  • Most men in the city spent their youth in a single-sex homoerotic frenzy whipping each other with wet towels and groping each other in their public school dorms. No surprises that the majority can't relate to women.

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  • What about a paralle program for male associates to teach them how to listen?

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  • Has the firm discussed the problem areas? Clearly this must have been considered if workshops specifically target women. I higlight 'problem areas' as it can only be concluded that women are seen to be having problems. This is very discriminatory. Whilst the intention may be for the firm to be seen to be taking some positive steps for training women for equality, I suggest the men are trained instead to value all competent colleagues and give them the respect deserved. Why should women be made to fit in, why can't it be the other way around. The percentages suggest that this a male created problem.

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  • I agree with the above posts. The City is full of posh men who are only in it for the glorification of their oversized egos. They delight in trampling on the little people. It gives us all a bad name and surely there must be a better way.

    When attempting to reform a sexist workplace, it is best to start with small measures. For example: Before rushing to instruct counsel, why not see if a lovely bouquet can soften the heart of an ill-tempered litigation opponent? Long work days are unsociable and lead to poor office morale. Would it really be unconscionable to have an office outing to a spa one afternoon a week? And would it kill us to spruce up our pale, grey offices with a delightful fuschia or cerise?

    The world of business is competitive and scary only because we ourselves allow it to be. Change begins with each of us.

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  • less women make partner than men.

    Law firm asks why?

    Gets answer that it 's womens fault.

    It puts women on training course - now the firm feels better that it doesnt promote women.

    *simples*

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  • Hmmm ... it would be interesting to know how this idea emerged and what A and O were trying to achieve. I felt a surge of joy earlier in the year when I heard that the A&O managing partner was asking the question 'how can we motivate women?' - not everyone is motivated by the same things. I suspect that while what is needed is a wider range of motivators, beyond money and position, and that both men and women would appreciate more range. This training offer might be part of addressing that issue.
    What demotivates women is being expected to behave like men. The social pressure to match the male model is bad enough but within the professions it is even worse. Indeed, the first wave of women to reach partnerships in the law seem to have cracked this absolutely and are more often single, childless and divorced than other women. In the USA these women even have documented higher levels of testosterone than their male counterparts. I have heard senior women partners say that they recognised they need to tone down because they were scarring their male counterparts. It seems to me that we have learned a bit about the benefits of a more diverse work place since then. Perhaps men would benefit from learning more about how mena and women communicate?
    More of A&O's clients are women because women move into inhouse positions (as a retreat from the male dominated world of private practice) so what reason could there be to believe that training private practice women solicitors to communicate like men?
    I hope all this has been distorted in transmission and that what A&O are really doing is trying to improve the communication skills of all their people to meet the needs of the business. The reports appear to be that younger men and women (not the senior associates targeted apparently by this training) are pretty unimpressed by gender focussed training. The men, children of my generation, are also less likely to want to meet the old male paradigm. Readers may be interested in the work of Richard Collier (University of Newcastle) in this field. Young men wanted to be a real presence in their children's lives and not the 'office slaves' their own fathers were in the 1980's and 1990's.
    It would be great if A&O could tell us more about this intiative.

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  • What a bunch of uptight sexist, class warrior wingers you are!

    I am not a city lawyer ( I do enjoy handing them their heads when they come to play in the 'provinces') but these comment show more about the prejudices of the poster rather than A & O's.

    Did it occur to any of you that these courses were apparently organised by the HR people. This is the worlds single most FEMALE dominated profession.

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