The man putting his hand on his solicitor's knee is making a statement that her sexuality is of greater importance to him than her professional status. In that gesture he both diminishes her intellectual attributes and asserts his dominance. The woman is abruptly thrown from a dispassionate professional state of mind into a defensive personal one.
A sharp rejection may offend a valued client. Most professional women would not stoop to using false charm to try and redeem the situation. They are therefore left angry and impotent - possibly the desired result.
It is a sign of their vigorous spirit that women solicitors are voicing their objections to this kind of behaviour, using the channels described by Linda Tsang (article, 26 October). In the long term, however, the solution lies in having women present in the working world in equal numbers to men, at all levels of seniority. Only then will their sex go unremarked, and workable codes of conduct become the established norm.
Dr JANEY HUBER