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Charlotte Proudman: Solicitor asked me for bikini photo in exchange for work experience

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LinkedIn sexism row barrister also says her leg was inappropriately “rubbed” during mini-pupillage

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Charlotte Proudman has revealed two shocking prior incidents that contributed to her decision to tweet a “sexist” LinkedIn message from a law firm partner.

Appearing on Channel 4 News last night, Proudman — who has become a household name since her explosive tweet of a screenshot of Alexander Carter-Silk’s message last week — told an incredible story about a solicitor who asked her for a bikini photo in exchange for work experience. She recounted:

When I was at university I sought legal experience in a solicitors’ firm, and I was asked by this solicitor to send in a bikini shot of myself before the solicitor would even consider giving me experience. When I asked whether that was a joke, it was laughed off and said ‘who knows?’.

Proudman, whose undergraduate degree is from Keele University in Staffordshire, went on to tell another story about a barrister who felt up her leg during a mini-pupillage. She recalled:

The second instance of sexism in my experience, again when I was between the age of 18 and 19, was with a barrister in a taxi on the way to court — again, another form of work experience. And the barrister in the taxi put his hand on my leg and began to rub it up and down.

Given the Mansfield Chambers junior’s willingness to out Carter-Silk, the lawyers she referenced must be feeling rather uneasy right now…

Since those incidents Proudman said she has “continued to face sexism, but thankfully nothing physical”.

During the interview, the family law barrister, who is currently working on a PhD in political sociology at Cambridge University, also demanded that Carter-Silk, the head of European IP at Brown Rudnick, issue a further, more substantive apology for his LinkedIn message (which, in case you had forgotten, complimented Proudman on her “stunning” profile photo). This is what she said:

The apology I received was an apology for the offense that I had taken, there was no apology for the message itself and no acknowledgment that the message that was sent to me was sexist and highly inappropriate in a professional context.

In response to this, Brown Rudnick has issued a further statement on the matter:

My Carter-Silk and the firm have promptly and sincerely apologised to Ms Proudman. We have also assured Ms Proudman that we are committed to gender equality and do not condone any words or actions that depart from that principle.

Watch Charlotte Proudman’s full Channel 4 News interview below:

120 Comments

Anonymous

Show me the receipts.

(29)(2)

Anonymous

Felt a bit sorry for her when she appeared on newsnight. Clearly heavily rehearsed, anytime the presenter veered off-piste she choked a little.

(38)(2)

Joy Beorge

Has she committed a necessary evil here? If she hadn’t named/shamed that old fella, there would be no fear. No fear may mean nothing changes?

(19)(6)

Anonymous

So ends justify means?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

“we should be disproportionately cruel to people for minor indiscretions because we desire a society based on fear”

(0)(0)

Anonymous

WOW.

that mole-hill is getting f*king massive now

(37)(3)

Anonymous

Would prefer a photo of her in a burka.

(59)(14)

Anonymous

Proud man clearly overreacted to the LinkedIn message, and her calls for a further apology betray a completely obsessive, irrational, and unreasonable mindset.

That said, the other incidences she narrates, if true, are outrageous and should not be tolerated. The problem is that Proudman has lost all credibility in my eyes and it wouldn’t surprise me if these stories were a fictional fantasy.

That said, let her provide compelling evidence of these incidents (if she can) and I will happily change my mind.

(56)(11)

Anonymous

does it though?

If casual sexism receives only casual rebukes, it will endure. Her response, though on the face of it obsessive, vengeful and OTT, was a forceful response to casual, prima facie ‘harmless’ sexism.

She’s doing something important here which I’m sure in time will mature into something less melo-drama and more realistic.

(29)(18)

A. Barrister

The allegation of sexism is not made out, its assumed. Therefore you cannot draw a conclusion about sexism. Unless we categorise making a pass at someone as sexism, which it cannot reasonably be considered. The issue in her other examples sounds like sexual harassment or assault, though again thats clearly not made out in the first. She has blown her credibility, she is the girl who cried wolf. Truly sad if she has been a victim of genuine sexism and/or assault, but not a defence to her stupid behaviour on this occasion.

(23)(10)

Lunacy

Pedants are often the first to bypass the truth

(8)(9)

A. Barrister

Pedantry, like rhetoric, which evades the point is, but refusing to accept false premises, which are directly relevant, is most certainly not.

Tyrion

If the importance of this situation is to expose sexism, why does she insist on another apology? Surely the apology would be irrelevant. I feel like this is something else more sinister on her part.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Seems like shameless self-promotion, with the demand for further apologies a tactic for perpetuating the issue.

Anonymous

Letting the punishment fit the crime is a fairly widespread societal principle. Imagine if what you said were to be applied in law:
“If casual [pickpocketing] receives only casual rebukes, it will endure. [Cutting their hands off], though on the face of it obsessive, vengeful and OTT, is a forceful response to casual [lesser crime]”
Also, what A. Barrister said. We don’t have enough concrete information to go on to arrive at the outcome of sexism.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

Nobody’s cutting off anybody’s hands. Nobody’s suggesting inappropriate linkedin comments should be made criminal offences. Someone has called out an out-of-touch middle-aged man in a position of power for acting inappropriately, and has done so in a forum likely to generate a hysterical reaction, which has duly generated a hysterical reaction. But let’s not introduce a standard where a woman subjected to off-colour remarks has to have 7 male witnesses to confirm her experience before she is entitled to view his comments as sexist.

(6)(6)

Anonymous

“Nobody’s cutting off anybody’s hands” no, instead the motion being put forward is that we take justice into our own hands and adopt cruel and unnecessary measures to counteract people who do things that we don’t like, no matter how silly or benign.

Perhaps this is a wording problem, but the person above genuinely attempted to justify unreasonably harsh responses to minor wrongs on the sole basis that it will stop the perpetrators. Where’s the limit to this outlook?

Anonymous

Sorry, this is not an intelligent response. No one is saying anything about punishment. It’s simply about using a loud voice to combat those little everyday voices which contribute to tired ideas of a woman’s place in professional settings.

Your ‘cutting hands’ analogy does not effectively translate, in this case.

(5)(7)

Anonymous

If Proudman wanted to start an intelligent discussion about this she would not have done it by sharing a screencap on Twitter (or at the very least would have hidden his identity so the focus is on the message). The function of her publicising the message was to incite an online mob to enforce some kind of shoddy vigilante justice. This was not about combating sexism by legitimate discussion, it was about punishing an individual for a perceived wrong, and making an example of them in case anyone else dare commit the cardinal sin of being a bit socially awkward in private Internet discussions.

Anonymous

and if sledgehammers become the tool of choice for cracking a nut, what then

(7)(0)

Anonymous

*steam hammer* – Lord Diplock :L

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Don’t believe a word she says?

(25)(4)

Anonymous

Can someone please draft a bullshit apology on behalf of all men for her to frame and shut up.

(39)(1)

Anonymous

Keep digging that hole Charlotte.

Really showing herself up now as a hysterical extremist prone to embellishing.

(33)(5)

Dermatologist

I like how her skin gets more and more blotchy over the course of 4 minutes.

(34)(7)

Gonzo

That’s what happens when you do your LLB at Keele University, kids. Solicitors will offer you work experience only for tit/butt pics or a pleasant…erm…interview on the black leather ‘interviewing’ couch.

Don’t worry though, you’ll get wet wipes to clean up afterwards.

(31)(19)

Nickwilson

I heard there are pictures of her in a Bikini spreading all over the Internet. Looks like she sent it after all. She seems like she likes a bit of fun so I’m not suprised

(5)(1)

Bobby

Seriously though I think it is very surprising that someone from a Uni that isn’t great and so has had to rely on the few alumni who have built a career for themselves decides to alienate probably one of the most successful person to come from her Uni.
Being an adult, you need to realise that good and evil doesn’t exist. Taking on a partner at a top firm in such a crude and poorly planned and emotional manner is what should not be done. She’s still thinking like a student, and believes that the sisterhood will rally behind her and she will change the world like Gandhi and MLK before her.

(9)(2)

Anonymous

Keele isn’t bad for law. I’d say coming above Russell Groupers (Southampton and Sheffield) in the Times rankings isn’t a bad place to be. Also got ranked 151-200 in world ‘elite’ law schools in 2014. Maybe you should do some research before making such an ignorant comment.

(4)(15)

Keele grad spotter

Hahahahahah, that’s one of funniest comments I read for a while.

Sorry to break it to you brah, but Keele is shyte, and judging by its rankings, will remain shyte. Good luck with your TC apps tho.

(7)(3)

Bobby

Have you seen the number of Keele grads at top firms? Compare that to Southampton grads. Now compare that to Sheffield grads (of which there are so many in the top firms). I went to another Red Brick Uni and I tend not to like excessive Uni snobbery, but to even compare Keele to Sheffield and Southampton is ridiculous. I wouldn’t even compare Keele to Hull or Kent. Heck I wouldn’t even compare Keele law to Buckingham. In fact I would recruit from the Open University before I recruit from Keele.

Put it this way, what Proudman did is not something an Oxbridge/Redbrick educated female lawyer would do (and don’t say she’s at Cambridge because she is doing a chip-on-shoulder soothing mickey mouse masters/phd there). Even if we accept the premise that the partner was sexist, this whole thing has been played out in such amateur and obvious manner.

(12)(4)

Anonymous

LOL – 151-200??
because ppl will be climbing all over themselves to hire from the lowest 0.5th centile.

(2)(3)

Curious George.

Could we please have an interesting article on LC? This is boring bullshit.

(6)(7)

Lord Dyson

Oh please do share old boy. Some tawdry imagery would warn the cockles of my heart and the decrepit hosepipe could use a bit of polishing!

Here’s my contact: denningisasexgod@buttjobs.com

(2)(0)

Not Amused

I feel precisely the same as you.

I do not enjoy the prospect that she is being incentivised to misremember past events by the media who seem to be dangling the carrot of attention and alternative career in front of her. The dangers of people being incentivised in this way are precisely why both the SRA and the BSB provide easily accessible and robust mechanisms for any complaint.

I would rather she took complaints through proper channels (not the media) precisely because if anything she claims is true then I want it rooted out and stopped ASAP. That won’t happen with the glare of a fickle media – but might happen with regulatory attention.

In the meantime I am very concerned at the message this gives to young people considering entering the law.

(28)(2)

Not Amused

Precisely the same was directed at Anonymous Sep 16 2015 11:58am

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Nonsense. ‘Proper channels’? What effect would that have? Change requires unpopular moves.

(3)(11)

Anonymous

Defecating on the tube so that people either side of me move away and I can have extra seat space is an attempt to effect change through an unpopular move, but that doesn’t make it praiseworthy.

(16)(1)

Nickwilson

Lol wtf?

(6)(0)

Bindair Dundat

I once used a tube to kill a man.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

In my eyes, yes

Anonymous

Just read the article properly. ….wants ANOTHER apology? !?! From the old solicitor geezer from LinkedIn?!

You can’t just script your own apology………

What? Having a laugh, not going to happen ever.

She’s taking a good point re not being harangued at work/ inappropriate comments / seismic and butchering it……………

(4)(1)

Anon

Considering her passion for the subject, the delivery was unengaging, monotone and boring.

This story needs to go away now

(10)(3)

Noonan

re. monotone voice, dead eyes etc,

Possibly side effects of strong anti-depressants/anti-psychotic drugs.

(2)(4)

Anonymous

she must b loving it.
took degree at poor uni, apparently struggled to get any work experience as a solcitor and now is a barrister undertaking work in a field her set is not specialised in.
this is literally the only way that she would ever have been plucked from obscurity.
and she is no looker. that’s not sexist. its aesthetic-ist.

(23)(7)

Anonymous

Keele isn’t bad for law. I’d say coming above Russell Groupers (Southampton and Sheffield) in the Times rankings isn’t a bad place to be. Also got ranked 151-200 in world ‘elite’ law schools in 2014. Maybe you should do some research before making such an ignorant comment.

(6)(3)

MagicCircleWarrior

It is a fairly rubbish uni to be fair. Let’s not kid ourselves here

(8)(3)

Anonymous

I would not want her representing me

(30)(1)

Anonymous

This is getting massively out of proportions. If I were Mr Michael Mansfield QC I would be concerned to have my firm’s name associated with this barrister.

(24)(3)

Charlie Proudmuppet

This desperate creature comes across as dull, dull,dull.

Put a sock in it love, ffs.

(15)(3)

Anonymous

Put a sock in it, love?

Have you got some kind of weird foot fetish?

(0)(1)

Cue the 'feminazi' taunts...

The comments on this article make me ashamed to be entering this profession, presumably alongside the authors of said comments. And they confirm exactly what Proudfoot is saying. The woman has the balls to speak out against an elitist, sexist industry that is well renowned for treating women as second-class citizens. And what does she get in return? More comments about her appearance, sexual taunts, and comments dismissing her as an attention-seeking exaggerator. Kudos for illustrating her point perfectly. If any of you have bothered to even so much as glance at her CV, she is a pioneer, and has done some truly amazing work. How about you talk about that instead of her appearance?
Also, not one of you has the privilege of commenting on the credibility of her personal experiences.

And no, this story should not just ‘go away’. This needs to be talked about. Clearly.

(20)(46)

Anonymous

*Proudman

If you are going to put her on a pedestal you could at least try and get her bloody name right.

(27)(4)

Cue the 'feminazi' taunts...

PROUDMAN. Got so irate with your pig ignorance that I mentally confused her name with an old tutor. My bad.

Anything to say about my substantive points?

Thought not.

(5)(27)

Anonymous

did you make a substantive point?

Thought no.

(18)(2)

Anonymous

Sounds like you might have a chip on your shoulder. Are you sure that the legal profession is right for you?

(10)(1)

Anonymous

People disagreeing with Proudman does not make them ‘Internet Trolls’. The individuals posting threats should be reported to the police, I do not believe those individuals represent any intelligent or representative views on Sexism at work.
The examples she has given yesterday about being asked for a bikini shot and being touched up in a car are clearly not acceptable, I don’t hear anyone saying otherwise (assuming the accusations are true).
I don’t understand why she started this frenzy with a debatable example of sexism from Carter-Silk? If the problem is so substantial, surely she could have found a better example than Carter-Silk? The use of Carter-Silk as the example of obvious Sexism is very damaging to her position.

(6)(0)

Pantman

I do have some sympathy for her, she is right to report sexist attitudes, but I’m not sure going on about it in the media will really help her cause.

I also found her explanation about it being ok to pay compliments to men on Facebook, because it is a “private space” and not ok for Carter-Silk to pay her a compliment via a LinkedIn message, because it is a “public space” more than a little contrived. The reason we know about her Facebook messages is because they are accessible to the public at large. The only reason we know about the private LinkedIn message is because she made it public.

(31)(0)

Anonymous

I think it probably has more to do with the fact that Facebook is a social media site, whereas she had approached Carter-Silk on a professional networking site. A headshot on what is effectively an online CV is a different affair to someone’s holiday selfie.
But if this is what was meant, surely a barrister should be able to articulate this viewpoint a bit better?

(5)(1)

Pantman

So if she’d been walking past the RCJ and Carter-Silk was walking the other way, and he just happened to glance over and say “Wow, what a stunning looking woman you are”, it’d all be ok?

I understand the point you make, but I think trying to run an argument that there’s a real difference between public comments on Facebook (which are ok) and private messages on LinkedIn (which aren’t ok) and the difference works in her favour, is a bit of a stretch.

If she’d argued that women are in a weaker position, that no man is threatened by a compliment and that women are openly discriminated against, then I’d be more likely to accept it. FWIW I absolutely accept that women are discriminated against, and denigrated in the workplace – as a man you hear the things other men say more readily and openly. I still find the things I hear from so-called professionals quite shocking.

(2)(0)

Mr B J Mann

LinkedIn is a social media site for personal marketing.

She “poked” him and asked him to “like” her personal marketing page that she had headed up with a “stunning” photo and promote it for her.

Commenting on the quality of the first thing that hits you on the page, privately, seems perfectly reasonable.

Publicising the private comment is against the LinkedIn T&C (and Bar professional standards) I believe (and her comments, especially the follow up on twitter, defamatory?).

Making objectifying and eroticising comments on Facebook is totally unacceptable…..

According to Proudman herself, as she has said that sexism is sexism regardless of the context!

(0)(0)

Mr B J Mann

I did a little survey of LinkedIn profile photos (the 80% that had them) and almost all were “holiday selfies”!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Where is that vile old crab Katie Hopkins? Surprised she hasn’t tweeted yet…..

(3)(1)

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