The New York State Bar’s Approach to Teaching Women Communication Skills–Are You Kidding Me?

Although the New York State Bar Association has now changed it planned panel for the upcoming meeting next week, this is still a doozy.  Here is Bridget Crawford from the Feminist Law Prof blog last week:

The Committee on Women in the Law is sponsoring a program called “Weathering Tough Times: Strategic Planning for Your Practice.” The agenda appears after the jump.  It includes an 11:00 a.m. panel entitled, “Their Point of View: Tips From the Other Side,” in which “[a] distinguished panel of gentlemen from the legal field will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of women in the areas of communication, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, organization, and women’s overall management of their legal work.”

As she notes in her call for a boycott,

“the speakers have a right to speak, but we don’t have to go and listen.  Men have been telling us FOR YEARS how we don’t measure up.  To have a panel of men, endorsed by the New York State Bar Association, discussing our “strengths and weaknesses,” is a regression and an insult to all women in the legal profession.”

By last weekend, the NYSBA had modified the panel, with this lame disclaimer: “Unfortunately, the important objectives of this panel have been overshadowed by issues raised as to the topic description and the composition of the panel.”

To which I would ask, what exactly where those important objectives that were overshadowed by (apparently) the less important issues of communication, condescension, and total lack of understanding of how that panel description would come across?

The comments found in both Prof. Crawford’s original post and follow-up are priceless and I encourage some reading including a lovely one from Anne Bartow,

“But still no “distinguished panel of ladies from the legal field” to “discuss the strengths and weaknesses of men in the areas of communication, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, organization and men’s overall management of their legal work.” 

Should the NYSBA call for this one, I’d be happy to help out!

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