10 September 2015
A partner at Brown Rudnick has apologised to a female barrister who publicly shamed him for his "unacceptable and misogynistic behaviour" after he told her on LinkedIn that she had a "stunning" photo and suggested that they might "work together".

Charlotte Proudman, a barrister at Mansfield Chambers, received the message from Alexander Carter-Silk, Head of European Intellectual Property at Brown Rudnick, on Monday morning. Headed, "RE: PICTURE", Carter-Silk told the 27-year-old, "I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture !!!!"



 
  Top tip: If you find yourself writing, "This is probably horrendously politically incorrect, but...", it's best not to finish the sentence.

He continued, "You definitely win the prize for the best Linked in picture I have even seen", and then appeared to lose control of his keyboard, finishing, "Always interest [sic] to understant [sic] people's skills and how we might work together".

    The stunning LinkedIn photo

Carter-Silk should have realised that Proudman was the wrong target for his brand of charm. Her LinkedIn biography reveals that she is studying for a doctorate in Sociology from Cambridge University, "researching #FGM #fearlessfeminist because rape, prostitution & pornography are problems of male dominance". Which meant his message did not go down well. At all. Proudman replied:



He will probably think twice about communicating with a woman ever again, because Proudman then posted their exchange on Twitter:



Carter-Silk told RollOnFriday, "Most people post pretty unprofessional pictures on Linked in, my comment was aimed at the professional quality of the presentation on linked in which was unfortunately misinterpreted". An excuse about as convincing as OJ Simpson trying on gloves.

He added, "Ms Proudman is clearly highly respected and I was pleased to receive her request to linkup and very happy to instruct her on matters which [are] relevant to her expertise that remains the position".

After RollOnFriday broke the news, the story was picked up by the national press and has sparked a debate (well, several frothing columns) about the point at which compliments become come-ons. Proudman has been applauded for speaking out against everyday sexism, telling the BBC, "My partner gets messages asking if he wants a job at hedge funds, I get propositions from men asking me out". But she has also been vilified after demanding a public apology from Carter-Silk, complaining to Brown Rudnick about his behaviour and announcing her intention to report him to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, pausing only to pop his rabbit on at Gas Mark 6. Most readers' comments posted on RollOnFriday were supportive of Carter-Silk or critical of Proudman's response.

Carter-Silk battened down the hatches after initially talking to RollOnFriday. However a colleague has defended him on the discussion board. She said, "He is very outspoken, but he is not a sexist pig. He just doesn't have a filter on his mouth". A Brown Rudnick spokeswoman told RollOnFriday, "Both Mr. 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”.

Remember, if you receive an unwanted missive there is another way of handling it.
 
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Comments

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

Alex is probably one of the least sexist lawyers I know in London. This matter is entirely ridiculous and I make this comment as a female who knows him personally.

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

Is Charlotte Proudman any relation to Mrs Justice Proudman?

Or did she get to the Bar solely on her own merits?

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

I've sent her a photo of my John Thomas and invited her for a no expense spared night out in the Feathers followed by a night of free love in the Premier Inn. No response yet but I promise to keep RoF appraised of all developments.

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

Miss Proudman is a stirrer and a relentless self-publicist. 'Silky' should have checked her profile on her Chambers website first. If he had done so, he would have found that she is an avowed Fabian and socialist. This is exactly the opportunity she was waiting for to seek kudos from her echo-chamber to score political points. Ten years from now, she'll be running for a Labour safe seat somewhere up north. Maybe near Keele, which elite university Miss Proudman attended. Possibly after being told what to do with her shrill rhetoric after an Oxbridge interview.

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

She sounds like a moron. The comment is harmless. If anything it is a little distasteful, but this seems to be due more to Alex being a bit of an oaf as opposed to a sexist. It should have been ignored if Charlotte didn't take it as a compliment. She's massively overreached by publicly labelling Alex as a sexist. She obviously lacks grace in how she deals with other members of the profession and lacks judgement. I wouldn't hire her as my lawyer on that basis alone.

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

Imagine how Ms Proudperson would have reacted if ACS had responded along the lines of the comment he left on his daughter's Facebook page last year:

"Whilst I should not encourage lascivious comments about my daughter ... Yeee gods she is hot!!"

According to the Standard (http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/lawyer-at-centre-of-linkedin-sexism-row-caught-commenting-on-photo-of-his-own-daughter-a2944916.html) which has a picture of ACS's daughter (who is indeed much much hotter than CP).

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

As a 36 year old straight man I'm a bit unnerved by Mr Carter Silk's photo - for some reason I just can't keep my eyes off it.

It may even win second prize for the best Linkedin picture I have ever seen.

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

He is known as having no filter at all, and so whether you *think* he's sexist, or put it down to having no filter and coming from the days when people said and did things that they couldn't get away with now, is irrelevant. If he says something that objectively and subjectively is sexist, then that's the test. It's not that because he's an old duffer should be allowed to say whatever he likes.

Importantly, this was not an "unknowing" statement. He said quite clearly "this is probably horrendously politically incorrect". In other words, he *knew* it was not the right thing to do, and that it was a little risque.

Furthermore - and to put paid to his "apology" - would you ever really describe a headshot on Linkedin as "stunning", without actually meaning that you think the person is stunning? Of course not. He has embarrassed himself - not that he will feel embarrassed, as that doesn't appear to be his way.

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

Is it just me or does anyone else thing her use of "(half your age)" undermines her point somewhat? He may be sexist, but she's ageist.

Roll On Friday 11 Sep 15

IN MY OPINION , Ms Proudman has a massive chip on her shoulder 99.99% of ladies would be delighted to receive a compliment like this . There is nothing sexist about it . !!! My niece is a dentist and loves to be admired by men and by women - FFS the woman (I don't consider her a lady ) will I feel lose any credibility she has

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

Who is Ms Proudperson trying to kid? I can't believe

A she has a boyfriend; or

B said boyfriend works in private equity, hedge funds or whatever (the last preserve of the Neanderthal).

Perhaps a bit of a Waltrina Mitty

Mind you, Silky boy is also a bit of a trumpet.

Roll On Friday 11 Sep 15

There is nothing sexist or misogynistic about Carter-Silk's comments. A bit creepy, blurring the line of professionalism and letchy behavior, inappropriate....? Probably. But consider this - if Ms Proudman was a man, would that change things? We would say Carter-Silk's comments are all the things I have mentioned above but not 'sexist' or 'misogynistic'.

We need to move on from the dialogue of sexism, feminism etc. and recognize that the societal norms and rules apply to everyone, equally, in all situations. We need to rebalance the scales and empower everyone equally, not give certain groups (in this case, women) a monopoly on being offended.

You could accuse him of being a perv, a letch, but why start throwing around equality issues?

My thoughts: Proudman, Carter-Silk - be adults and stop this silliness.

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

Carter Silk should have just kept his views to himself, but what is the world coming to when a professional intelligent woman thinks this is the way to deal with an older man paying her a compliment on her looks? Seems like she is trying to attract attention to herself instead of just accepting it graciously and moving on. if she doesn't wish to be seen as attractive, don't wear makeup and have professional pictures posed to make one look good for your linked in picture!

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

Is she "Ageist"? Probably. But her silly (and deeply puritanical) comment on his age shows that you have to show mercy when you read someone else's email, conceived and sent too rapidly.

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

It's a tricky one. I'm an average looking young male barrister and I'm often somewhat dismayed at the way some of my female colleagues, by their own admissions, go to great lengths to make themselves look attractive in photos and at chambers events in order to get work. Some even flirt quite shamelessly with instructing solicitors who are "twice thir age." I was once told by a female friend at a firm of solicitors that I should put a better photo on my chambers profile because she and other female colleagues would often choose counsel based on "who was easiest on the eye." Looking at Miss Proudman's, which as Mr Carter Silk points out appears to be very professional, part of me can't help feeling that Miss Proudman is alive to all the above. Double standards?

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

It was a stupid email to send and I can understand why she didn't appreciate it but did she really have to "out" him to the world. Surely it would have sufficed to reply telling him off, if she wanted to draw attention to the issue, share the message with his name and details removed. Now he's famous across the world for all the wrong reasons and his practice may suffer as a result. That hardly seems commensurate with what he actually did, which was very silly at worst.

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

If Brown Rudnick cut him loose, he could probably find a spot at White & Case fairly easily.

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

At some point in her career she will send an ill-conceived email. We've all done it at some point. I only hope the recipient is somewhat more forgiving than she was to Mr Carter-Silk.

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

Proudman is just looking for 15 seconds of fame! If she really was annoyed she should have taken the issue up with the firm in private. The fact she tweeted it, just shows she is trying to get her name out there! Carter-Silk is a fool for sending such a message but seriously all he did was pay her compliment. Proudman comes across as petty and childish. Poor judgment on both sides I'm afraid!

Anonymous 11 Sep 15

A private exchange being made public in order to publicly shame someone for an off-hand comment (even if it is in bad taste, which I'm not sure that it was)... Sorry, but following that overblown and irrational response, my sympathies lie almost entirely with Carter-Silk.

The correct response would have been to say that you would refuse to accept instructions from this chap in future, and block him on LinkedIn, if you were that offended. I can't see how "going public" on this one has served "feminism" in any way.

Male by the way, if that's relevant to the discussion.

Anonymous 12 Sep 15

Proudman should do less studying for her doctorate, which she seems to have quoted material from in her reply to Alex ("The eroticisation of women's physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women" - massive overgeneralisation btw), and get out a bit more.

Don't take the world so seriously Charlotte.

Roll On Friday 12 Sep 15

Mr C S made two fundamental errors - firstly he did not research Madam Proudman - or if he did then he should have been aware of the risks of enflaming a dedicated feminist Secondly he opened the door to her by prefacing his comments with an acknowledgement that he was not politically correct - The Proudman Picture presents to me immediately as someone who has an agenda Having said all that - its not even an April shower never mind a storm in a teacup

Anonymous 14 Sep 15

How did this all start out? Shamelssperson invited Silky to link up with her, right? She is a human rights lawyer, apparently, and says she's on Linked-In for business purposes, so I'm definitely straining to work out the business opportunity that she no doubt saw from linking up with an IP lawyer. Do oppressive regimes patent theìr torture instruments, perhaps? She's clearly an extremely intelligent person.

Anonymous 14 Sep 15

I am somewhat dismayed at the comments here. I agree that she did not react in a proportionate or rational manner, however, it is a reality that when it comes to women in the legal professions people focus on all the wrong things. You get attention for how you look and how you dress, no matter what approach you take to your image and the focus tends to stray very far from what is actually important, namely whether or not you are a good lawyer. The fact that people excuse people like ACS because "he has no filter" etc, is outrageous. We do not excuse or condone racist behaviour, but sexism cloaked as "office banter" or compliments is ignored and excused. I'm absolutely sick of being a woman trying to be taken seriously in this kind of environment but it is not going to get better until idiots like ACS and the other dinosaurs learn that women enter the profession with ambitions to become good lawyers, not just to snare a husband.

Rant over.

Anonymous 14 Sep 15

In all the years I've read Roll on Friday I've never read so many comments on one of your stories. The men and WOMEN making ill informed, judgmental, sexist, derogatory and defamatory comments about this lady just because she stuck up for herself to a creep have put me off your publication (and the state of the legal profession if these are the people representing it). Lets hope your daughters all look stunning eh? I'm off to join "the blue stocking brigade".

Anonymous 14 Sep 15

It's called free speech and it's a two edged sword. You can't expect to use it to defame an innocent man and not expect it used against you in return.

Anonymous 15 Sep 15

Kettle and black spring to mind. Deed polls change nothing.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11859971/Sexism-row-barrister-Charlotte-Proudman-wrote-vitriolic-email-to-her-elderly-grandmother-before-her-death.html

Anonymous 16 Sep 15

On C4 News last night she said she was allowed to ogle and pass comment on others online as that was a private matter. Then, having clearly seen the questions beforehand as per the norm these days to acquire certain interviews, apparently she has been fondled in cars by lawyers, suffered at the hands of a sexist legal profession on an almost regular basis for years.

Anonymous 16 Sep 15

Check the RoF discussion board - apparently she has an interesting past - maybe that's the reason behind the change of name?

I suspect no media has picked up on this because they only like the story from her 'perspective'

KingMup 16 Sep 15

What a childish and petuluant woman. This was not "sticking up for yourself" as one poster commented. Sticking up for yourself would have been to phone the guy and tell him that his approach was not welcome. End of story.

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