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Charlie Hebdo rant trainee qualifies as a solicitor and is retained by Clifford Chance

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Exclusive: Magic circle firm stands by its man

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Clifford Chance has decided to hang on to a trainee solicitor who caused national outrage last year when he took to YouTube to point the finger at the West for the Charlie Hebdo atrocities in Paris.

Aysh Chaudhry has qualified into the firm’s London capital markets team, where he will practise as a junior solicitor earning £85,000.

The refusal of the magic circle giant to sack Chaudhry at the time of his January 2015 diatribe drew mixed responses, with some praising the firm for its loyalty and others questioning its judgement.

Since then, Clifford Chance is understood to have shelved plans to send Chaudhry on secondment to Singapore amid speculation that the move may cause problems with the country’s legal profession regulators and damage client relationships.

With insiders at the firm believed to be split on what to do with the SOAS graduate, there has been much speculation about what would happen at the end of his training contract. This break point is a convenient time to get rid of problem characters.

But Clifford Chance seems to be of the view that Chaudhry’s YouTube rant was youthful indiscretion and that the rookie has learnt from it. By all accounts he is a talented junior lawyer with a bright future. It’s also worth noting that, unlike many corporate solicitors, he took no gap year and joined the firm straight out of law school, and so was just 22 when he got into bother last year.

Clifford Chance declined to comment.

95 Comments

Anonymous

There should be a section on the SRA application form alongside the criminal convictions question along the lines of, “have you ever been judged to be a complete arsehole by the Guardian?”

(26)(4)

Trumpenkrieg

Nothing wrong with that, most employers would consider it a boon.

(9)(1)

Looking for TC pls give

Classy by LC to always mention salary, even if not entirely relevant

(40)(4)

Anonymous

I swear no one cares about the idea of Freedom of Speech anymore.

(10)(6)

Anonymous

Shut up!

(16)(5)

Anonymous

Freedom of speech has never been completely free. In any society it is perhaps necessary and proper to limit free speech to some degree. The question then becomes, what to limit and how? I think in this country we have broadly got it right with offences in relation to inciting religious or racial hatred and similar offences. There is also the public order act offences such as s5 which whilst these might be considered too broad act as a useful tool whereby the authorities can limit the actions of those who it might seem have “crossed the line” whether it be the content or context of their speech. This can be contrasted with the Lèse-majesté laws which have been applied in some of our closest neighbours such as The Netherlands, which many might think goes too far.

(5)(3)

Anonymous

I am the geezer who you have just replied to and to be honest mate I ain’t got a clue what your going on about, I’m to stoned to understand it.

(12)(6)

grammar pedant

“too stoned …”

(5)(3)

Anonymous

You’re a right pagan

Uber Grammar Pedant

Your name should be Grammar Pedant with capitals as it is a proper noun.

Anonymous

Whoever you are. Thank you, that geezer was a virgin.

Al-Cliffordi LLP

“Clifford Chance”

(22)(1)

Anonymous

Pretty much

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Naaahhhh LC is cheeky for this post!!! HAHAHA

What happened to Freedom of Expression, Freedom of thought, belief and religion!

Did he incite racial/radical religious thought?! If not, but just a forum to discuss and debate, then why the big issue

(4)(19)

Anonymous

You defend him on the basis of free speech, when his comments attacked the very principle of free speech?

Yeah…

(17)(5)

Anonymous

He supports a Caliphate which by definition oppresses minorities, have you ever heard of the Jizya tax levied to “humiliate” them? If you support a Caliphate you incite racial hatred by definition.

(8)(3)

Jay Cartwright

He professed his extreme hostility to religions and worldviews not conforming to his own. Had any fundamentalist Christian made such remarks, we would have labeled him a bigot and marginalised his voice and opportunities to participate in a pluralistic economy. But since he’s one of the many embarrassments from SOAS like the White Widow, he gets a pass.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

He must have been pretty good at getting those floaters deposited by the managing partner in the pool to have been kept on

(11)(4)

Anonymous

The legal profession – where being a twat is okay as long as you’re good.

(21)(2)

Anonymous

He may have trenchant views but he was not convicted of any offences and I cannot see how this has affected the quality of his work.

(16)(14)

Anonymous

Bad judgement is bad judgement

(9)(3)

Jonny Bantz

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(13)(4)

Adam Deen

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(3)(0)

K

You, sir, are good. To echo someone above, being a twat can be okay, as long as you’re good…

(0)(1)

Anonymous

He didn’t cause “national outrage”. Those with too much time on their hands (and no TC or pupillage) decided to make a big deal out of a non story. CC and all reasonable people allow others to express views, even if they don’t agree with them.

I think this reflects very well on CC and this young man. Both came out of it a lot better than the envious failures at Legal Cheek and the Daily Mail.

(16)(26)

Captain Gordon

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(25)(6)

Anonymous

Yeah because that comment doesn’t sound like it was from a biased source at all…

(11)(3)

Not Amused

I’m relatively ambivalent about the whole thing. There was no obvious or easy solution. The only *good* outcome would have been for young Mr Chaudhry to somehow go back in time and not say the things he said.

It having happened, there is little to be done save for him to be apologetic and promise to not do it again. Calls for him to be sacked are too close to revenge for my liking and thus against my values.

But, however you look at this it is an entirely unnecessary mess which was entirely of the boy’s own making. It is wrong therefore for anyone to go too far the other way and start praising him or saying fatuous things like he ‘comes out of this looking good’. It is abundantly clear to anyone vaguely paying attention that the last thing he does is come out of this looking good.

I assume the right decision. I assume CC will ensure that his behaviour is not repeated. I assume he is apologetic and has repented. But no one comes out of this looking good – it should never have happened.

(16)(4)

Anonymous

I think you’ve milked this story enough LC – time to find another young lawyer to obsess over.

(7)(13)

Anonymous

Two stories spread over months? Yeah. Really milking it.

(9)(2)

Anonymous

Aysh is a disgrace.

CC is on the same level for retaining him.

“Poor judgement” does not even begin to describe it.

(19)(7)

Barry Banter

Compare and contrast with the fate of the solicitor who made some lewd comments in correspondence on a private email account to a client (I think it was the FA?). Dirty jokes call for sackcloth and ashes whilst expressions of support for a murderous cult attract bromides about free speech and statements having been made only in a private capacity.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Loving the Legal Cheek irony.

Basically this article is written by a collective bunch of failed lawyers hating on a successful lawyer.

And no, I don’t care about this chap’s views.

(15)(13)

Anonymous

Burn. 🔥💥

(7)(4)

Tired of the lame "haters gon hate" drivel

Damp squib, more like.

How can you possibly know the individual content of everyone’s CVs that reads LC???

How do you know that people who read this are a “bunch of failed lawyers” or otherwise?

You dont know anyones grades/ accomplishments / professions. Neither should that be a qualification for commenting – free speech and all that.

Satire = free speech.
Killing people because of hurt feelings from satire = wrong and indefensible.

(2)(9)

Anonymous

Erm, read the comment again – “this article is written by …”

The commenter was very clearly referring to the LC journos, whose CVs are well known, not the other commenters on the article.

Great attention to detail there. No need to wonder if you are a failed lawyer or not…

(4)(1)

Anonymous

If you had a proper look at the linkedins for the LC journos and their qualifications – AA, TC and in particular, KK – you will find that they are not “failed lawyers” in the slightest, where is your attention to detail?……KK in particular has a brilliant linkedin, hats off to her….

The point is not about LC authors or commentators – its about the content of Aysh C’s statements that are objectionable (to put it mildly)……

CC dont want to risk their middle east business, or enter awkward discussions with clients as to the political rights/ wrongs with ACs statements (a topic that is not their business purpose, that would be their nightmare scanario) – when their sole focus is to provide a service and reach deep into middle east clients wallets and extract as much cash as possible….. they have therefore taken the cowards way out and retained him…..

the legal market is full of kids with firsts and talent…. plenty more where AC come from, who have sound judgement and dont talk nonsense either…..

Anonymous

Hi Katie!

Anonymous

….they have therefore taken the cowards way out and retained him ***** whilst conceding at the same time that they cannot send him to Singapore, as a business risk arising from his comments….

US Associate

From a non-failing lawyer…

The views in his video were at best totally unprofessional. If it had been my call he would’ve been dumped immediately.

(12)(2)

Interloper

Quite. Many have ruined their careers by doing *a lot less* than this bulb did…

(8)(1)

Trumpenführer

Agreed. But guess what: he’s untouchable and you’re not. It’s the world we live in.

(6)(0)

Lord Harley

Agreed!

Cretins.

(0)(0)

Sguit

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(7)(1)

Trumpenführer

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

In a week that finally saw Anjem Choudhary finally get his comeuppance for always skating close to the line of extremist support and then finally cross it – I dont see how Aysh Choudhry is any different.

“22 years old” is old enough to know better. “Got into bother” is trivialising the content of his statements.

CC has lost its mind. The fact that they cant send him to Singapore off the back of his statements is enough of an indication that he is a business risk. That alone is enough to be let go.

Wonder what the office politics at CC are. Would it have just been too difficult to kick him out? A religious discrimination law suit perhaps? Too much negative press? Was probably easier to retain him and avoid it all. How is that right?

(14)(2)

Clifford Farce

If they sacked him (which they should have) – it would have upset their clients in the middle east and potentially lost them money…………………. it was easier to “absorb the hit” of tut – tuts and shaken heads from a liberal and tolerant western society (which would cost them no money) and spin this as a little boy-child who doesn’t know what hes talking about……

What a joke.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

Any fear of an employment tribunal on the basis of race, and further press stories about it as that dragged out, was probably enough for CC to keep him on. I bet there was a past instance of another lawyer being kept on in questionable circumstances which meant AC had a fairly decent chance of claiming race discrimination.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

I doubt it. His contract will include an express or an implied requirement to conduct himself in his personal life in a way which will not damage the reputation of CC. Posting an offensive video on YouTube implying that the Charlie Hebdo victims got what they deserved would be sufficient grounds for gross misconduct dismissal. Claiming discrimination on the grounds of race or religion would not present a strong case. I recall the case of City solicitor Clive O’Connell who was dismissed last year for referring to Liverpool fans as “Scouse scum …”. Offensive, but no worse than AC’s rant.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Maybe, although that is not what the internal rumour mill was suggesting back when it was decided he should be able to continue with his training contract. Suggestions that previous “similar” decisions within CC meant they felt their hands were tied on this occasion.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Thanks and I agree that would leave them in a vulnerable position if they had fired him. When I was involved in recruiting trainees, I always made it clear what standards were expected and that they would be invited to leave if they departed from them. Setting a precedent by taking action short of dismissal (I assume that CC will have at least issued a written warning informing a trainee of the consequences in the event of repetition) does limit your options when another person misbehaves.

Anonymous

Haters gonna hate. This chap seems to have proven a point to you chumps.

LC u defo need to go and start stalking someone else.

(7)(12)

Anonymous

What point is that you mullet?

(3)(2)

Anonymous

LC definitely do not “stalk” him – stop making him out to be some sort of victim, because he is not…

He is only a victim of his own vanity and utter stupidity…..and lack of insight…..

(4)(2)

reality check

making an international fool of yourself is nothing to “hate” on……

(3)(1)

Anonymous

He’s perfectly entitled to say what what he wants (within the limits of the law), but CC would have been perfectly entitled to get rid of him on the basis of those comments – it’s not like “free” speech allows you to say whatever you want without any consequences.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Agreed. I’m genuinely befuddled why would CC’s HR decide to keep such PR kryptonite on? It’s not like one’s job is guaranteed when transitioning from Trainee to NQ since the firm can literally blame it on anything a reason for not retaining you – be it Brexit or passing wind.

I suspect client pandering or some other kind of vested interests.

(5)(1)

Not Cassius Clay anymore

Clearly good lawyer

Said some stuff about free speech islam etc in a rant or whatever that wasn’t in line with the current view on global politics

CC right to stand by him and hes proved and done well and been recruited

(7)(10)

Comments are closed.