Like other firms, Davis Polk & Wardwell thought that posting photographs of its lawyers on its Web site was a good marketing tool. But after several female associates received e-mail from strangers that were clearly prompted by the photos, and comments were posted on an Internet discussion board about the associates’ appearances, the pictures disappeared almost overnight.

Although the comments on the Yahoo! site called “Greedy Associates” may have been tame by Internet chat room standards — a common remark was simply “Wow” — they were sexist in tone.