No computers, smoking in the office and a comment about a female trainee’s ‘backside’: this video of Slaughter and May from 1981 is incredible

Avatar photo

By Thomas Connelly on

Someone has put a video on YouTube that was filmed inside top City law firm Slaughter and May in 1981. We’ve broken down the best bits of the 23 minute journey back in time into animated gifs and accompanying mini-transcripts.


A Slaughter and May solicitor displays his computer-less office.

“This is my telephone over here, and my pencil case and over here is where I do my dictating. Hello 1,2,3,” he says.

Having a fag at work.

A female Slaughter and May trainee attracts the attention of the male solicitor behind the camera.

“Tell me what are you doing at the minute,” the solicitor asks.

“I am looking for a file,” she explains nervously.

“Well I have got a lovely view of your backside, I wish you’d turn,” he responds, subsequently adding: “Well she does look lovely even though you can’t see her face.”

The nature of the relationship between the pair is not known, nor is the context of the exchange. In the spirit of fairness, we could give the Slaughter and May class of ’81 the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were engaging in a brilliantly forward-thinking satire on inappropriate office behaviour.

Elsewhere in the video is a theatrical rendition of the Taxes Act.

“Well what I would like to read to you is possibly the most moving section of the whole of the Taxes Act, section 460. It probably has a more intense spiritual content and emphasis than any other section of the Taxes Act…” announces the lawyer, before embarking on a memorable performance.

A quip about a Lancia — a favourite car of upwardly mobile types in the early 1980s — also raises a smile.

“About that undertaking for £80 million that you gave unconditionally,” says one of the lawyers. “I did just put your own undertaking on the bottom, as a cross indemnity yeah, I hope that’s alright, with collateral on the Lancia.”

The bottle in display is a Beaujolais that, the solicitor comments, is “nothing like the champagne at the Savoy this afternoon”.

Note that the footage was filmed in the lead-up to Christmas (check out the dancing at the Christmas party at the end of the video), so it may not provide a representative picture of the levels of decadence at Slaughter and May throughout the rest of the year during the early 1980s.

The full video is here:

UPDATERevealed: Where the stars of that 1981 Slaughter and May video are today