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cancer1999

Sexuel harassement in the law

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I know this is something most people are not comfortable talking about, but I would like to know if other female lawyers/law students have been put in the same situation and how common these types of situations are. This has never happened to me before so I don't know if this is the type of thing that happens often (and I will unfortunately have to get accustomed to it even thought it's wrong) or I just had the misfortune to talk to the wrong person. 

I was recently approached, in an academic setting, by a lawyer who gave me his business card and told me to email him for a possible internship. I did and so I met him at his law firm and, long story short, he basically told me he'd get me a job if I slept with him. I am 20 years old (even though people tell me I still look 17) and he had to be in his mid 60s. 

I am disgusted as this was my first "interview" (I considered it so and practiced common interview questions beforehand) and I didn't expect this. I was dressed conservatively and tried to bring the conversation back to the law when he aired towards more personal subjects. He was also very touchy but I was intimidated by him so I found it hard to vocalise my feelings , even thought my body language was very clear. The whole experience was a little traumatizing and I have to admit, I am sad because this is not how I imagined law school would be like. 

Has anyone else been in a similar situation? Do you have stories of coworkers or friends to whom this happened? How common are these types of behavior?

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I’m sorry to read you experienced this. That lawyer’s behaviour is completely unacceptable. 

I’ve experienced a similar situation from a non-lawyer in my early twenties during an interview,, and have been touched inappropriately by two senior and very accomplished lawyers while I was a law student. I froze and didn’t feel I could voice anything for fear of damaging my reputation. I now have zero tolerance for such inappropriate comments or acts as will tell whomever is trying to make a move to f* off. All my other interactions with lawyers have been good.

The LSO offers support on this: https://lso.ca/about-lso/initiatives/harassment-and-discrimination. Talking about it will help you realize this is not normal. Wishing you the best in resolving this and finding employment opportunities in workplaces that are respectful and harassment-free.

 

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Not outright harassment but definitely impoliteness and (what I felt was) discrimination. I don't think it is very common, I have been in law school for a couple years and the first time it happened was about a month ago

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That 60 year old guy is clearly bored with life

make his life more interesting by suing/reporting him into the stone-age

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On 6/26/2019 at 11:37 PM, cancer1999 said:

 I was dressed conservatively and tried to bring the conversation back to the law when he aired towards more personal subjects. He was also very touchy but I was intimidated by him so I found it hard to vocalise my feelings , even thought my body language was very clear.

I just wanted to say I am so sorry this happened to you. You explain the way you were acting, the way you were dressed etc. But I want to make sure you know it was not your fault or anything you did..

It was disgusting and incredibly creepy for someone three times your age to approach you in an academic setting and dangle a potential job in front of you, then do this. He was obviously trying to take advantage of the power imbalance - that's awful. Given that it was ostensibly a job interview, it would have been difficult for anyone to vocalize their feelings, but especially a very young women since we are conditioned to always "be nice" and polite while growing up.

 

I have faced harassment a lot in other professional settings but never in law, if that makes you feel any better. I would actually say most lawyers, on average, are much more aware of these types of issues than many other professions and do more to protect women from being treated this way.

Edited by Starling
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I don't think it's particularly common, though like in all fields there are the bad apples like this jerk face. It's not your fault in any way shape or form, and I sincerely hope that it doesn't deter you from continuing to pursue any avenues that are of interest to you. His bad behavior is not a reflection on you whatsoever.

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If this happened in Ontario, you can also contact Discrimination & Harassment Counsel through the Law Society free of charge. They are arms-length, I believe.

https://lso.ca/protecting-the-public/information-for-licensees/discrimination-and-harassment-counsel

 

How to Contact the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel

Although the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel position is funded by the Law Society, the Counsel works independently from the Law Society. The Counsel keeps all information received in strict confidence. You can reach the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel by:

Edited by ericontario
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Very sorry to hear you experienced something like this.

Though I know a handful of individuals who have experienced issues of harassment or discrimination in the course of their legal careers (albeit less blatant or explicit), I certainly don't think its the norm. I have had a few instances, as a young female, where clients and other members of the profession have refused to work with me, not trusted my advice, spoken down to me, or mistaken me for a law clerk or assistant. 

As others have said, this was in no way your fault. I hope you don't let the abysmal actions of this asshole discourage you from pursuing a legal career, which I am sure you have worked very hard towards. 

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This is very uncommon. I haven’t heard of anything like it in law, although I’ve heard of it happening in other environments. 

That said, there are creepy people everywhere, including in law. You will be put in, generally mild, uncomfortable situations. I’ve had my fair share with older female lawyers as well. It’s not necessarily a one sex issue, although I suspect women get it worse. 

For something as egregious as what you experienced, if it was in your actual place of work, I’d suggest making a formal compliant. However, it might not be worth it in this situation - that is up to you  

But, I’d maintain that this likely happens less in law than in other occupations. Or at least that’s my impression.  

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All profession where junior people are encouraged to be extremely subservient to their seniors has a sexual harassment problem. Law is no exception. 

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