Cambridge University Law Society duo respond to backlash generated by Legal Cheek article about alcohol-fuelled Oxbridge social events put on by law firms.
Law firm recruitment events — the lavishness of which tend to be directly proportional to the prestige of the university where they are held — typically involve a hell of a lot of alcohol.
Certainly, there’s nothing unusual about the fact that 5 out of the 8 events which featured in a recent piece about Oxbridge law recruitment events were explicitly based around booze. It was a ratio picked up on by various commenters on the article, with “Anon” summing up their concerns:
“I’m not sure the Oxbridge angle is the most striking thing about this anyway. Isn’t it more significant that, in a profession that isn’t exactly famed for its diversity, 5 of the 8 firms have gone with recruitment events that are explicitly based around alcohol (meaning, among other things, that Muslim students for example are disproportionately less likely to want to attend)?”
In response to such comments we asked Legal Cheek Cambridge University correspondent Zahra Mashood (pictured) — who is the former Cambridge University Law Society social secretary — to gauge her fellow students’ opinions on the matter. So Zahra sought out her successor in the role, Hannah Shaw (pictured), and together they have responded to the concerns. They’re discussion is summarised below, with the full recording of what they had to say embedded in the podcast at the bottom of the post.
The pair explain that, contrary to popular perception, law firms tend to be fairly hands-off in their dealings with them, with the university law society coming up with the theme for the legal social event and then using City law cash to put the nights together.
“Occasionally law firms will put forward a suggestion, but if all the law firms did what they wanted then the events wouldn’t be as popular as they are,” explains Shaw. “So most of the time it’s us proposing events to the law firm, and if they’re happy with it, it goes ahead.”
She adds that she has been careful to include events that don’t rely on booze, such as chocolate-making and a three course meal, but “the most popular ones are always going to be alcohol-based”.
Mashood is keen to make clear that the society also regularly organises more serious law firm events to help students with applications, such as talks, arbitration workshops and mooting sessions.
Another interesting observation made by the duo is that legal recruitment events tend to be more lavish than for any other career, with law firm socials far outshining events put on by companies in other sectors. Mashood reckons that a perception of law being a challenging and sometimes dry subject has led to a culture of law firms trying very hard to impress potential recruits.
“You’d expect investment banks to be splashing their cash, but these lavish socials really are almost unique to law,” she says. “I suppose if one firms starts offering social events, the others feel they need to as well. It feels like no one can stop now if they are to get their name out among students.”
Listen to Mashood and Shaw’s full discussion below.