Comment

The Judge Rules: Charlotte Proudman should never have let herself become the story

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108

A cannier operator would have exposed ‘sexist’ message while keeping her identity hidden

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In some quarters the LinkedIn message lawyer row has been spun as an optimistic tale of a tech-savvy young feminist outwitting a sexist dinosaur in the progressive arena of social media.

Proudman’s brilliant use of her computer’s screenshot function, followed by her rapid dissemination of the image on Twitter, is the sort of bold move that is contributing to making old prejudices extinct, we have been told.

But strip away the ideological distractions, and you are left with the real story: a young, inexperienced barrister — let’s remember for a moment that the Mansfield Chambers family law junior is just 27 — took the decision to make public a piece of ill-judged private correspondence from a senior member of her extremely hierarchical profession. And the consequences have been explosive.

This was a terrible move for a lawyer to make. What members of the legal profession sell — particularly the self-employed hot shot barrister ones — is their knowledge of the rules and associated ability to push them to their limits, without breaking them. In breaching the convention of respect for private communications — which is a particularly big deal for the law with its love of all that “without prejudice” jargon — Proudman came across as unreliable and reckless. Worse, she exposed herself as someone who doesn’t really understand the game she is playing.

Tuckers boss Franklin Sinclair’s was a bit mean in publicly vowing to never instruct Proudman again, but anyone with moderate experience of the legal world could have predicted important solicitors would react like this.

Judging by her comments in the media over the last couple of days, Proudman is a long way from accepting the reality of her situation. So far, she is still arguing that the problem of sexism in law is so great that it trumps the importance of professionalism — and ultimately justified her taking a noble stand at great personal cost. Her supporters agree and have branded her a hero.

But at no point has anyone in the Proudman camp troubled to ask themselves if the barrister could have exposed Alexander Carter-Silk without endangering herself. In case you’d forgotten, Carter-Silk is the senior lawyer who sent the offending LinkedIn message — and has since been reduced to an almost bit part in the story as Proudman has assumed centre stage.

The answer is obviously that she could have kept her name out of this. If Proudman had been more media savvy she would have taken the screenshot and then sent it anonymously with her name and photo redacted — and Carter-Silk’s in full view — to the press.

Certainly Legal Cheek — and no doubt our competitors — would have been delighted to publish it. That’s the way the making public of private correspondence works: it’s possible, but to protect yourself you have to do it via a third party and not from your own Twitter account. At which point, Carter-Silk would have been in an impossible position. Because for him to have responded and revealed Proudman’s identity he would have had to have assumed the role of the active party, and been the bad guy who not only sent an inappropriate message but needlessly ruined the career of a poor junior barrister.

Having said all of that, we shouldn’t be too hard on Proudman. She’s not long out of university let alone bar school and she clearly has guts. Her career will recover from this, and perhaps even benefit, if — and it’s a big if given her reaction so far — she can be honest enough with herself to ignore all the armchair Twitter supporters egging her on and admit that she got this one wrong. After all, she’s now the best known junior barrister in the country.

Previously:

Boss of top legal aid firm vows to never instruct LinkedIn message barrister Charlotte Proudman again [Legal Cheek]

Feminist barrister tweets screenshot of senior male solicitor’s ‘sexist’ LinkedIn message [Legal Cheek]

108 Comments

Sligo

Say farewell to your legal career darling, but remember – it didn’t have to end like this!

(68)(22)

Anonymous

It’s sexist comments like that which paint you as a moron.

(25)(67)

Anonymous

Hi Charlotte

(66)(8)

Flo-Jo

I think it is disgusting, sexist and objectifying that you are addressing this person with the name ‘Charlotte’.

Charlotte is a name of the female gender and by using it to describe this person you are forcing them into the evil bonds of gender servitude.

I simply cannot believe how sexist people are these days. I mean all people think about is is sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. It is too much. Us feminists just want to lead normal lives, not obsess about sex and sexual relations and sexual power and sexual attraction and basically anything about sex.

I mean, why can’t we talk about something else? Not as if I personally am really messed up about SEX. I’m just a feminist. That’s all.

I like to flirt with older men and then call them out for being evil monsters. That is all.

But, the point is, I am NOT obsessed with sex. Really. I actually had sex once. It was in 1982 with Professor Yaffle, who looked like my Uncle Rodney. Any way, please, let’s stop talking about sex.

(28)(22)

Ogre

Hush now darling and suck on my scrotum please.

Anonymous

Flo-Jo this is the whole problem with feminism. You! And the stances that you try to object. If you want people to take feminism seriously then you have to take a good look at yourself and change yourself. We as women have to change the way men look and treat women not only professionally but personally. We are not here to attack but to educate and help transform the world that everyone not just women are equal to one another.
First the true meaning of the name “Charlotte “is free man of French origin. I think the poster was using it as “tongue and cheek” comment to the previous poster. You may want to look up sarcasm on your way to a better education.
Secondly, you say you are disgusted at all this sex talk and how men treat women. However you are the first one to say you flirt with men then when they accept your advancement towards them then you call them out as monsters. You are not a feminist, you are being a bitch. Plain and simple. You hide behind the feminist banner. You obviously know nothing about human nature and men’s interactive nature. You cannot say that you are so upset that all people do is talk about sex then use a sexual stimulus to lure men then bash them over the head with it. If you want to talk about something else then do it. It is not that hard. Don’t like reading about then turn away, otherwise be quiet about it. Being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to give up sex, it means being on the same level as men. Maybe you should try sex again, maybe it will allow you to release that anger and tension you have.
I agree with the comment “Say farewell to your legal career” just not the delivery. Instead of using darling he could have used her name. That is the part we need to educate about. It is not a sexist comment it is a truthful comment with a sexist delivery.

Anonymous

Does anyone else think she looks like the kid from ‘About A Boy’?

That fringe is uncanny.

(30)(1)

Anonymous

Dear Charlotte,

My boss ask me to send you several videos about the real human rights violations happening everyday.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxrBLO1rAMM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMtsouaMB8Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cawl5rNd620
There are over 50,000 t.i. victims in the U.K. and over 300,000 victims throughout the world.
Not one law firm is helping the targeted victims of direct energy weapons and microwave radiation crimes.
There are 1000’s of lawyers in the world doing what you do. Human rights violations are an ancient biblical journey in our uncivilized countries.
Smart lady like you should apply your skills to the problems with everyday illegal technology driving victims bonkers.

Food for thought, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” ― Helen Keller
Kind regards
Liz

(4)(2)

Not Amused

So much has been said on this issue.

I just hope that not a single bright young person is put off applying to be either a barrister or a solicitor because of this. Young people are often collateral damage in these, frankly political, fights.

This sort of fluff and nonsense might run in the press for days. Everyone might get very excited. Some people on one side might believe they have the right and power to control when someone flirts. Others may disagree. But the day to day reality is that most lawyers are not flirting via linked in – or indeed any other means. Most lawyers are not giving interviews to the press. Most lawyers are working hard on behalf of their clients, they are respecting and being respected by their colleagues.

Bright young women are the future of the profession, just as bright young men are and bright young trans people are the future of the professions (and bright older people who may come as second careers). Please work hard. Don’t be disheartened. Take the media and these incidents with a huge pinch of salt and know that you can succeed in the law regardless of background. If you do, or if anyone does, encounter discrimination then there are rules and systems in place to protect you. The vast majority, a controlling majority, of lawyers are deeply and genuinely committed to diversity – do not judge the professions by this incident (whichever camp you happen to support).

(33)(2)

Anonymous

Are trans people the modern day successors to Pan’s People?

(5)(2)

Joe

I find it amazing that all the bad press articles including this one tend to have been written by men. The ‘experience’ has nothing to do with this, it’s about a constant drone of low level sexist and masaoginistic behaviour. What else was she to do? Just ignore it? This quote from the guardian sums it up brilliantly! “And if that’s too complicated, here are three simple rules that should keep most men out of trouble. First, if you need to preface something with the words “horrendously politically incorrect”, then you probably don’t want to be saying it to a total stranger in a work context.

Second, if you routinely compliment someone on their looks but never on their thinking, you’re basically saying that you don’t take them remotely seriously. Amazingly, people dislike this.

And third, as ever, it’s all about tone and context. From someone junior at work, “nice dress” can be smarmy; from someone senior, it can be faintly pervy. But from someone who has always treated you as an intellectual equal, isn’t visibly panting or staring down your cleavage and generally isn’t a jerk? I reckon we can all live with that.”

(21)(38)

Anonymous

Women Studies Indoctrination alert!

(34)(7)

Anonymous

I bet Joe has to wee sitting down in his house.

(26)(10)

Anonymous

It’s called doing what she did but blacking out his name.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Rubbish. There have been plenty of women calling Proudman on her vindictive behaviour. Both in the media and in the comments sections.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

She didn’t ignore it – she responded appropriately by calling the gentleman out directly and informed him it wasn’t acceptable. She then decided to string him up, attack his reputation and went for the jugular. Don’t confuse the two. One is acceptable, one is not.

(5)(1)

Dr Friend

1) Seeing the new photo of her my initial fears that she may be mentally ill seem to be confirmed. There is something manic about her eyes.

2) She appears to have replaced Lord Harley as the legal world’s #1 subject matter. It had to happen eventually I guess. But we will miss him and his great hair (if I may say that).

(29)(8)

Anonymous

Lord Harley is celebrating tonight with a KFC family bucket and a sigh of relief.

(9)(0)

Pussy Lover

And with his cats, don’t forget his cats – Meeeyoww!! You’re cuddling me too hard Mr. Blacker!!!

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Turns out Charlotte Proudman’s Facebook is littered with comments about ‘sexy’ ‘stunning’ ‘too hot’ Men.

What a hypocrite as well as naive and inexperienced as this article points out.

If you are going to ‘shame’ publicly other professionals, make sure your own house is in order first.

(46)(5)

Dr Friend

Thanks, could you please give a link, or more detailed examples? This is important evidence.

(5)(0)
(9)(0)

Dr Friend

Thanks, and for once the Daily Mail does a good job.

This is perfect evidence of her deranged state of mind.

(28)(4)

Anonymous

Link not showing on here but Google – ‘The Feminazi vs the Leering Lawyer: What female barrister who objected to Linkedin compliment said as SHE ogled men on the web’

It’s in the Mail, that Proudman used first to break her tragic story to the world. No-one told her that the Media will always turn around and bite you on the buttocks at some stage.

(29)(0)

Anonymous

What a stupid article. On the one hand we have someone posting comments like ‘hot!’ on a personal friend’s facebook photo – on a social network for friends. On the other, we have a stranger saying ‘this is horrendously politically incorrect but you’re fit’ in a professional context on a networking site for professionals.

I’ve been floored by how thick you lot all are. If nothing else, this has demonstrated how many law students are actually mentally deficient. If you can’t understand the difference between the facebook comment and the linkedin message then you might want to give up now – there’s no hope of you ever distinguishing one case from another.

(17)(27)

Gumbo

Get back to tweeting, Charlotte.

confused

And here lies the problem

Anonymous

The subject matter of the story, Proudman, is clearly mentally deficient.

Evidence: her conduct in this matter and her degree from Keele.

Anonymus

Barrister Charlotte Proudman labeled one man online as ‘hot stuff’ while a second received an ‘ooo la la’ in comments she made on their Facebook …

Ooh la la! Parisians are struggling to get a baguette as …

Charlotte Proudman in LinkedIn sexism storm and the men …

The Feminazi vs the Leering Lawyer: What female barrister who objected to Linkedin compliment said as SHE ogled men on the web

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/…/Ooh-la-la-hot-stuff-s-prim…

Anonymous

Facebook is one thing. LinkedIn is another.

(4)(8)

Sandman

The world would be a better place if people:

1) paid each other more compliments;
2) try to avoid being lecherous;
3) spent less time on twitter

(29)(0)

Anonymous

For godssake don’t pay anyone compliments .. You’ll end up in court.

(7)(1)

FC

Without considering the merit of Proudman’s complaints but solely looking at the conducts and dealings, personally I think Proudman had brought the profession into disrepute and abused her professional position.

Breaches of BSB Code of Conduct:
CD5. You must not behave in a way which is likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in you or in the profession.

rC8 You must not do anything which could reasonably be seen by the public to undermine your honesty, integrity (CD3) and independence (CD4).

Possible breaches:
CD10. take reasonable steps to … in such way to achieve compliance with your legal and regulatory obligations
(gC2 … CD10 includes an obligation to take all reasonable steps to mitigate the effects of any breach)

rC3.2 must not abuse your role as an advocate.

gC27 Conduct which is not likely to be treated as a breach of Rules C8 or C9, or CD3 or CD5, includes (but is not limited to):
.2 your conduct in your private or personal life, UNLESS this involves:
.a abuse of your professional position; …

rC28 must not withhold your services or permit your services to be withheld:
.2 on the ground that the conduct, opinions or beliefs of the prospective client are unacceptable to you or to any section of the public.

rC29 cab-rank rule

(22)(6)

anon

no i dont think so ….do you really think the BSB would actually engage the above rules and go after her? It would be completely wrong to when she is complaining about an inappropriate message that was sent to her on the basis of how she looks …. (a valid point that was lost in her remaining over – exaggerated waffle, and the super stupid decision to publish this on twitter)

The BSB also have to uphold anti – discrimination and equality rules…. a woman is right to object about inappropriate comments as long as it is proportionate – she was right to object, but proportionality left by the wayside….. i imagine that even her friends are distancing themselves from her….i hope someone from her chambers has had a guiding chat with her, because in actual fact, she still is young (27) and totally inexperienced….. she needs some guidance from people in her chambers…

Did she breach confidentiality by publishing correspondence? No! not a lay client, not a professional client, not from a third party in relation to ongoing matters….

(2)(0)

Anonymous

exactly the point that was made, without considering the merits of her complaints, but her conduct and dealings seemed to diminish the public’s (and the profession’s) trust in her, and brought the profession into disrepute.

Nothing was mentioned about confidentiality.

(0)(0)

anonymous

brought the profession into disrepute OR…..shed light on aspects of the profession that are just not nice and are difficult to talk about?

Admitted, she did it in a silly way, but it points to some truth. Of course, not all of the profession is like this, but the nature of being self – employed (in any industry: law, finance, banking) means that this nonsense goes on because there is no HR department / personnel police force to regulate relationships and boundaries between colleagues…..

This stuff, being propositioned in gross casting – couchy type of way (compliment + hinting at the possibility of work) really DOES happen!!! On a scale that is more frequent!! – To women and men who dont want it!! It has a health impact too on the individual.

(3)(1)

anonymous

there needs to be some honest soul – searching about this debate that goes beyond the formal aspects of it, such as her publication on twitter (which was clearly wrong).

I hope there is a separation from this spat and an engagement with the valid aspect of this complaint: what is it like to be a woman at the bar? what are experiences of inappropriate and unwanted sexualised behavior towards women? (more common than you would think). Can we prevent this from happening? see the recent bar report i guess…..

although there are women (I am a woman writing this) who deliberately use their femininity to get ahead………its a tool like any other in their heads …..that is the reality of it, some women do it and get ahead because of it, some women dont do it and get ahead on their on steam anyway…..

– For the women that do not play sexual politics or mind games with equally culpable male counterparts, these sorts of sharp practices are deeply unsettling to women who just want to get by……

By extension, what is the male experience? are there problems unique to males at the bar? How can we remedy these?

It was recently (approx a year ago) in an anonymous respondent study that mental health was / is a massive concern for the bar at the moment: people are stressed and under pressure….. this also needs to be tackled….

Anonymous

judging from the reactions in LC, Proudman’s honesty, integrity and independence are all called into questions.

(1)(0)

Noonan

Re The Judge’s point about her being media savvy and keeping this out of the media misses the point. She WANTED this. She wanted the attention. She was, to use a prosaic term, ‘gagging for it’, the media attention, I mean.

(26)(5)

Telly

Gagging for meaty schlong more like it. I can see it in her eyes.

(7)(10)

Anon

Imagine her self depiction as a feminist conceals the reality of her inner desire: to be objectified.

As I see it, rather every individual on Twitter who has come across her correspondence has mentally considered whether her facial features have been rightly labelled as ‘stunning’.

Maybe during her sabbatical, she considered a career change and she was trying to make her debut as a Model and thought that by portraying herself as being “objectified” the industry would reach out to her.

(6)(5)

Anonymous

Models don’t look like dat

(4)(2)

Anon

Not the point I was trying to make…

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Both parts of this article, and even worse its comments, reek of the sexism Charlotte was trying to expose. The reason she did it publicly? She’s not afraid to stand up to those who perpetuate this sexism and who seek to punish her (by withholding work) for doing so. Funny, isn’t it, that all those who have publicly slammed her seem to be men (including you “Judge”)?

I’m a man. If anyone wants to post “do you pee sitting down?” in response to this, ‘have the balls’ to write your real name on the post 😘 .

(14)(35)

Tony Tee

So says the keyboard warrior anonymous.

And not just you men have balls you know. Us women can have balls too. Just think of the big brass clanging set that Miss Proudman is carrying.

A modern day Joan of Arc. Albeit a self promoting, vain and superficial one.

(12)(7)

Anonymous

White knight comes to save the fragrant flower damsel in distress = Sexism

(20)(2)

Anonymous

She wasn’t in distress. She wasn’t looking for a white knight. She was trying to make professional contact with somebody she thought might instruct her chambers in future.

(3)(6)

Anonymous

Someone in a completely unrelated area that she has never practised in…

Pull the other one… She was fishing for the first guy who would pay her a compliment, so she could go postal on them and make a name for herself.

(15)(2)

Anonymous

Put the toilet seat up after you’ve finished peeing sitting down m8.

(4)(0)

Tony Tee

Is saying that she looks like a younger version of Wendolene from Wallace and Gromit sexist?

(8)(1)

Boh Dear

But saying she has the personality of a younger version of Wendolene from Wallace and Gromit is not.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Yes

(0)(4)

Quo Vadis

I think the most worrying aspect of this story is the threat on the part of the solicitor to withhold work. We all appreciate the idea of the barrister as an apolitical mouthpiece – hence the wig. And we all know that instructing a barrister who has a high profile outside the court (for whatever reason) may cause friction with the client or the jury. But we must be very careful of requiring all people in prestigious professions to remain ‘corporate’ at all times – at work and off duty. Plenty of barristers (and chambers) profess to hold particular political views, but as long as those views are relatively uncontroversial no-one bats an eyelid. Charlotte Proudman, for all her turgid prose and bluster, has made people think about workplace sexism. And I hope she doesn’t lose her job for it.

(9)(4)

Anonymous

I would bet good money that:

(A) Franklin Sinclair’s firm have never instructed Charlotte Proudman, and

(B) Regardless of this incident they would never have instructed her.

They practice in almost entirely different fields.

(4)(3)

Anon

It’s as well that most of the comments on this forum are anonymous, and that the forum’s ephemeral nature will be likely to ensure that some of the commentators will not have the embarrassment of having to explain their vile or just deluded views to their children or grandchildren in 20-30 year’s time, when hopefully, men will treat women in a more equal way.

I think back to the casual racism of the 70s and earlier, when many of the “can’t they take a joke?” arguments were deployed in the same way as the “can’t she take a compliment?” responses have been used here. The failure of so many to see the wrong done to Charlotte Proudman staggers me, and the subsequent vitriol poured on her reinforces many of the suspicions I have held about fellow members of the legal profession.

(8)(15)

Flo-Jo

This person is a hypocrite, i.e. they are ‘Anon’ but criticise others for being anonymous.

No wrong has been done to the person of the female gender known to other feminists as ‘Charlotte’.

That you cannot see that is a reflection of your own sad world view.

Starting to think that today ‘feminist’ = ‘hypocrite’.

(9)(4)

Anonymous

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

(2)(2)

Paul Crofts

If I needed legal representation I would insist my solicitor brief her. I want someone with such courage fighting my corner. Speaking truth to power takes guts.

(10)(14)

Anonymous

Careful now ‘Paul’, she might tweet her notes of what was said in conference to try ansd sham you for having a penis (despite the fact that you ‘Paul’ are clearly a woman writing as a man.

(13)(7)

Anonymous

Optimists see a glass as half full.

Pessimists see a glass as half empty.

Feminists see a glass as being objectified, oppressed and raped.

Proudman, kindly pipe down and bore off you jumped up, precocious waste of oxygen. You do our sex no favours with all your posturing, inflated sense of ego and whoring yourself out to the media.

If people shouldn’t acknowledge that you have photo, instead, seek to view your credential instead, stop plastering your round little face and diabolical fringe on a three page spread.

People like you are everything that is wrong with this country.

(20)(6)

Anonymous

“whoring” is SEXIST!

(2)(0)

Lecherous Lenny

This post has been removed because it breaches Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(3)(1)

Observer

She used to be called Charlotte Bailye and changed her name four years ago to avoid paying five hundred quid in parking fines whilst attending Keele University – http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/09/11/the-guilty-secrets-of-man-hating-feminazi-charlotte-proudman/

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Christ does that work?!

(3)(0)

Pita Armstrong

Further evidence of a person focussed on self-publicity. M’lud, I rest my case.

http://blog.lawbore.net/2011/09/interview-with-charlotte-proudman/

(3)(0)

Pantman

The reality is that in a week, more or less everyone but Proudman (bit of a sexist name, no?) and Carter-Silk will have forgotten about this, in a year people won’t even remember it if prompted. I hope she hasn’t wrecked her career over this pointless spat.

(0)(2)

Gutter Cheek

This is the third day of the whole sharade going on and no respite seems in sight.

I wish everyone would get off their high horse and admit that, disregarding her slightly overblown response, the ultimate person to blame here is no one else than Mr Carter-Silk. There is no place for such messages on LinkedIn, or anywhere else, that are completely detached from a social context and are meant to remain business-oriented first and foremost.

Whenever ‘kangaroo courts’ like this spring up on social media, fanned on by big written/broadcast media. This includes Legal Cheek which, just like the odious gutter press it is, continues to publish nonsensical editorial about the situation, milking out as many hits as they can. After all, £££ doesn’t smell, does it? Utterly pathetic.

In situations like this, I always like to remember the late Christopher Hitchens. His grim resolve and clarity is sorely missed in today’s confused age.

“Never be a spectator for unfairness or stupidity. The grave will supply plenty of time for silence.”

(6)(8)

Anonymous

Not a clue.

Carter Silk made a fairly innocuous, if foot in mouth comment.

Proudman responded by setting the internet trolls on him.

Carter Silk is the victim in this.

(6)(2)

Charlotte's Angels

Suck balls and piss off you cocksmoking sexist bogan.

(3)(5)

Anonymous

You are an utterly deluded sexist.

(1)(1)

Dave

And a homophobe

Comments are closed.