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The Judge Rules: get off mini-pupillage cake-girl’s back

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Critics can’t go soft on a QC, who looked for an advantage in the battle to win his offspring some work experience, while slagging off a recent mini-pupil for angling for her own edge

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Two stunning examples of First World, middle-class professional woes were vividly on display this week.

First came a conundrum that our mothers have been bleating about ever since we received our first birthday gift from an ageing aunt: How to say thank-you properly.

A young woman in Leeds called Nabeela was the subject of much debate earlier this week after she did what she probably reckoned her mother would have wanted her to do.

Having just completed a mini-pupillage at leading local chambers Park Square, Nabeela wanted to say thank-you. And did so by either baking herself — or having commissioned — a chocolate cake that looked so rich it probably sent officials at Diabetes UK into paroxysms of shock.

If nothing else, her gooey thank-you note triggered outrage among some Legal Cheek readers. Her cake was more than just an example of top baking; it was brown-nosing of the most extreme, and arguably done in a bid to bag an elusive full pupillage.

Then came Julian Christopher (pictured below). The 5 Paper Buildings silk was an early-adopter — as marketeers would say — of recently launched myInternSwap.

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The website matches professional parents looking to place their teenaged children in tasty work experience roles. Initially, Christopher was willing to offer a week of work experience to the child of the parents that could provide a similar stint to his son.

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However, the barrister quickly removed his posting from the swap site after it was pointed out that his chambers operates a rather strict mini-pupillage application process.

There has been mixed reaction to Christopher’s modern faux pas. Some maintain the new website is little more than the old boys’ network online. But others argue for a bit of human compassion — the silk was just trying to do the best for the fruit of his loins.

It strikes The Judge that commentators can’t have it both ways. It’s not fair to slag off recent mini-pupil Nabeela for trying to find an edge in a highly competitive market, while excusing silky-chops Christopher for trying to do the same thing for his son.

In just 50-plus years, Britain has gone from a country where no more than 5% of school-leavers went on to higher education, to a position where today nearly half of them do so. That is a lot more competition for professional jobs. So it is no wonder that students and their parents look for any edge.

Arguably, Nabeela would have been better off with a traditional thank-you card. But perhaps her character is a bit more effusive and enthusiastic. And perhaps she did want to make an impression. Aren’t those characteristics chambers are meant to admire?

Perhaps Christopher should have paused and glanced at his chambers’ website to remind himself of its mini-pupillage application process before embracing the new work experience swap site. But ultimately, he’s just trying to prise his son away from the PlayStation and into the world of work, even if only for a week.

In the end, both students — Nabeela and Master Christopher — have been let down by barrister elders who should have been more astute about the modern world.

Park Square Chambers should not have tweeted a photograph of Nabeela’s cake. The world of social media is all sorts of things, but first and foremost it is public. And Christopher QC should not have put his name — or chambers’ name — to his work experience swap site entry.

If nothing else, these incidents are yet two more salutary instalments in the ever-growing tome that is titled: Beware the Internet.

Previously:

Top white-collar crime QC entangled in online intern swap embarrassment [Legal Cheek]

Mini-pupil raises the bar with chocolatey chambers thank-you [Legal Cheek]