‘Describe Your Parents Relationship’: Law Firm’s Interview Question To Training Contract Candidate

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By Alex Aldridge on

EXCLUSIVE: You hear all sorts of stories about partners asking outrageous, Borat-style questions during TC interviews.

But because of wannabe lawyers’ refusal to name names (either theirs or the firm in question) out of fear of being traced and marked out as troublemakers, they almost always go unreported.

How to get round this problem?

In this case, we’ve got a respected legal academic (Queen Mary University London senior lecturer Jill Marshall) who taught the student making the allegation to go on the record as a kind of character reference.

If Marshall – who, having spent ten years at Herbert Smith and Freshfields, is no out-of-touch ivory tower dweller – didn’t believe what the student said, she wouldn’t have let us publish her name.

So here are the details…

Having recently graduated with a 2:1 in law from Queen Mary, the student went for an interview at a well-known media and commercial law firm based in the West End of London.

The interview was with two partners, one male and one female, both white.

The male partner asked most of the questions – including these two gems:

“What do your parents do for a living?”

“Describe your parents’ relationship.”

Now what, exactly, do either of those queries have to do with someone’s potential to become a good solicitor?

As Marshall puts it: “I think these are really inappropriate questions especially in times when the profession is supposed to be interested in non-discrimination and social mobility.”