Interview

Meet the London Met law student who took the Government Legal Service to court over her training contract rejection, and won

By on
105

She’ll be applying again this summer

London Metropolitan University

Applying for training contracts has been likened to looking for one of Willy Wonka’s Golden Tickets.

These are all the more difficult to find now that firms — often with applicant to vacancy ratios in the hundreds to one — are becoming increasingly reliant on multiple choice tests to help them sift.

For some aspiring lawyers, like Legal Cheek author ‘Pissed-off Postgrad’, these tests are an inconvenience. For London Metropolitan University student Terri Brookes, they are an insurmountable barrier to securing a training contract.

Now a masters student, Brookes has Asperger’s syndrome, dyslexia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The cumulative impact of these means Brookes finds tests with a “social imagination element” (‘what would you do if…’) impossible. She explains:

These tests ask people to predict the future. If you ask someone without Asperger’s what they’d do in a given situation, chances are they could give you an idea of what they may or may not do. I can’t do that.

Imagine Brookes’ disappointment, therefore, when she went to apply for a trainee position at the Government Legal Service (GLS) back in July 2015. Tagged to the initial application form is a situational judgement test. If you don’t do the test, your application will not be submitted.

Studying for her Legal Practice Course (LPC) at the time, Brookes contacted the GLS in June to request reasonable adjustments for the psychometric test. These were that she could submit written answers to the questions. When her request was refused, Brookes gave the test a go, scored below the pass mark and didn’t progress to stage two.

“As soon as I failed the test, I spoke to a recruitment contact and made a formal complaint, which got escalated to senior management,” 33-year-old Brookes tells Legal Cheek. “I told them it was disability discrimination and explained I was trying to resolve this reasonably, but they were sure they were in the right. By November, I’d issued a claim to the employment tribunal.”

Pursuing it was a struggle. Single parent Brookes’ final year LPC exams inconveniently came around at the same time as the case. This — coupled with the David v Goliath nature of bringing court action against an organisation with 2,000 staff — meant there was no shortage of people trying to put the Sussex University law graduate off the idea.

“When I told one of my lecturers about the case,” Brookes explains, “she looked at me, put her hand on my shoulder and said ‘you’re very brave.’” Others said there’s no way Brookes was going to get the GLS to change its whole recruitment process for just one person. “People thought I was crazy, honestly.”

You might think the constant discouragement would prompt Brookes to instruct solicitors and barristers to help bolster her case, but it did the opposite. Fearing a lawyer may too try to dissuade her, Brookes — having experienced her conditions first-hand and researched them as part of her studies — felt she was the best person for the job. She says:

All I was thinking about was the difference I was hoping the case would make.

And she was right to think that way. The tribunal hearing came around in May 2016. The experts — Sussex professor Hugo Critchley and clinical psychiatrist Dr Pawan Rajpal — were on her side. And more importantly, so was the tribunal.

Brookes was awarded exactly what she asked for. Money-wise, this was the minimum amount of compensation stipulated by the guidelines, £600, plus expenses (“this was a case fought on principle, not for money”). The court also told GLS to send Brookes a written apology and to review its application process. Was she elated? Not really:

The government doesn’t want to lose anything. To come up against a student with no training contract and with multiple disabilities, to lose a case against someone like that, they’re not going to like it. I’d been warned the GLS would appeal the case and had expected it to do so.

It did. A year of waiting ensued before the case was heard at the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The judges deliberated for four hours (“I was praying, literally praying during that time”), before returning to give their verdict. The GLS lost. Permission to appeal was refused. It was over.

Months of prep work and messy litigation later, you’d be forgiven for thinking Brookes would want to confine her relationship with the GLS to the history books. You’d be wrong. She is planning to reapply for its training contract when applications open this summer. She’s “fully aware” they might not want anything to do with her, and has her plans to study for a PhD at London Metropolitan to fall back on. But:

I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was nine-years-old. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine, and believe me it’s been a lifelong battle to get where I am now… I still believe I could make a difference in education and disability, and I hope the GLS will give me the opportunity to do that.

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105 Comments

Anonymous

Congratulations Terri! Not everyone has the courage and confidence you have. You deserve to win on the issue of principle.

(71)(10)

MC Slave

Psychometric tests are bollocks and have very little if any relevance to one’s ability to be a good solicitor. If anything, psychometric tests are very good at cutting the time and workload for the lazy and self-important HR people, who’d rather spend more time gossiping and reading the Daily Mail than shifting through hundreds of written applications that people spent days preparing.

Traditional cover letter + CV + 1 or 2 rounds of interviews and a vacation scheme is probably the best way to recruit best candidates. That is why most American firms in London still prefer doing it that way.

(67)(0)

Anonymous

Pshychometric tests are bollocks, because if you do enough of them you’ll soon realise that there are just a couple of providers, and aren’t that many questions, so you’ll start getting the same questions again and again from different employers. So by the time you’ve done your nth test you’ll have done most of the questions multiple times.

I tried to point this out to one of the HR depts, they didn’t seem that interested.

(14)(0)

Anonymous

“If you ask someone without Asperger’s what they’d do in a given situation, chances are they could give you an idea of what they may or may not do. I can’t do that.”

Didn’t she just predict there what she’d do in a hypothetical future situation?

(18)(6)

Bumblebee

I am confused. Early in the article it says that the difficulty she was facing revolved around the fact that the QUESTIONS included a “social imagination element”. Later in the article, however, it says that the reasonable adjustment she was seeking was the opportunity to submit written ANSWERS.

Am I missing something?

(27)(0)

Anonymous

Her different “conditions” could warrant different types of adjustments. Its not all fixed to one thing.

(5)(5)

Anonymous

Good! Well done!

(8)(4)

Anonymous

(Correction in final quote) “I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was nine-years ago*/old”

(4)(0)

Katie King

Thank you – amended

(12)(213)

Anonymous

How about proof reading before publication?

(16)(21)

Anonymous

Don’t be a dick

(31)(13)

Anonymous

Being a dick is pretty much the raison d’être of this comments section.

(57)(1)

Anonymous

“Being a dick is pretty much the raison d’être of this comments section.”

* And of being a lawyer, especially on petty, meaningless grammar points.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

entirely legit ask, part of the job description of a writer. its like proofreading your document before sending it to the client. wait…most lawyers don’t even do that

(3)(1)

Toppsy Kretts

The venom against LC is unreal at times. We all make drafting errors.

(13)(4)

anonymous

get a life douche bag!

(1)(2)

Anonymous

There’s a reason why she didn’t get a TC

(3)(7)

Anonymous

197 thumbs down? Must be a record

(3)(3)

Anonymous

I think there’s a bot involved or something – there were 92 likes on a comment below 30 mins after it went up

(0)(2)

Anonymous

“I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was nine-years ago.”

Since 9 years ago or since she was 9? Great quote there LC.

(6)(6)

Anonymous

What if she’s 18?

(10)(4)

Anonymous

” 33-year-old Brookes tells Legal Cheek”

Learn to read before you comment.

(3)(2)

Batwam

Ca-pow. Owned! Hahaha.

(2)(0)

Anon

I would have thought being able to work out what you’d do in a given situation was a pre-requisite to being able to do that for others and isn’t that a big part of a lawyers job? How is she going to function in an office?

Also, she’s reapplying after suing them?! Yeah, no, neither they nor any law firm would want anything to do with her, though that was probably a given with a London Met degree. Just as well as she’s doing a PhD… although with a PhD from London Met (who knew they even did PhD’s?) I’m sure she won’t find herself in a job where she has to imagine or even think…

(39)(23)

Anonymous

Aside from snide comments about her university, I agree with this. Very often as a lawyer you are asked to consider hypotheticals, and often even when not asked a good lawyer will suggest how a client should deal with a situation that may arise. I wonder how she would be able to handle this if this is something which her conditions prevent her from doing.

(31)(6)

Terri Brookes

My competency in this area can be tested just simply not through psychometric testing or multiple choi e questions. These were only introduced by GLS in 2010 prior to that it was a ‘Challenging question’ written exercise. I did not ask not to ve tested I simply asked to be tested using a different format. I am happy to prove myself and I believe this in this case I did just that…..no test required!

(12)(21)

Bumblebee

Hi Terri,

I’m still confused by the question/answer distinction I make above. In the article you’re quoted as saying:

“These tests ask people to predict the future. If you ask someone without Asperger’s what they’d do in a given situation, chances are they could give you an idea of what they may or may not do. I can’t do that.”

The first commenter argues that this is a necessary skill for any lawyer. However, in reply you seem to be suggesting that you have the necessary competency (i.e. that you can ‘do that’), just that it cannot be identified with psychometric testing and/or MCQs.

I apologise, because the fault is mine, but I’m just really struggling to understand the situation.

(12)(0)

Terri Brookes

I have a degree from sussex and the rest of my education has been carried out at London Met. An institution that I am proud to be part of and who have allowed me to be who I am without predjudice and who have given me the confidence and skill set to be a great lawyer. I would be an even better one given the chance with the right firm. 75% average on the LPC and 77% average so far on my LLM. The GLS may not employ me, and that is ok with me, but the doorway is now open for others with my condition in all areas where psychometric testing maybe an issue. My PhD is something I look forward to not as a back up but as a hobby!

Put me in a situation and i will deal with it and all of the variables that come with it. Even a role play as the person in front of me is real. A lack in social imagination means it is difficult to pretend a situation exists when it doesnt. Which makes situational judgement questions difficult. Depending on the severity of the lack of social imagination will impact on whether a person with ASCs can or can not partake sucessfully in psychometric testing. However, working for charities and law centres I have proven I can cope in the environment as I did in the case. I also passed all my skills assessments first time on the LPC.

The questions asked are ambigous in nature, usually due to being long winded and not asking questions as directly as possible, which can be an issue…..Whats more of a problem for me personally, is that there are multiple choice answers adding to that ambiguity. Where as allowing free flow written answers will allow me to put down how I would deal with it rightly or wrongly without overanalysing what the employer may or may not want as an answer. For someone with an ASC and me that just adds to the confusion of it all. Does that help?

(33)(7)

Grumbling Hive

But Terri, what would Jesus do?

(49)(7)

Bumblebee

Hi Terri, thanks for your reply.

As I understand it, you seem to be saying that whilst you find it difficult to choose between hypothetical courses of action when the underlying context is hypothetical, you have the ability to choose between hypothetical courses of action (and select one) when the underlying context is real.

Further, you’re saying that the format in which the questions are asked, which includes giving hypothetical courses of action, makes the underlying hypothetical context even more difficult for you to understand?

Is that correct?

(3)(2)

Terri Brookes

Thats as close as I can explain without being a qualified psychologist, yes. SJTs and psychometric testing does not account for variables. Therefore a candidate could answer correctly on the test or even cheat as they are online but faced with a real issue ‘crash and burn’. With me I guess, in laymans terms, I am the opposite. I thrive in real situations and people interaction, dealing with facts and evidence and being able to clarify points as and when needed with clients etc.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Terri I wish you all the best but are you not concerned that being a lawyer often requires you to envisage and assess different hypothetical scenarios? “If the judge finds X as a fact, how will it impact upon Y?”

Genuinely interested

Hi Terri, I don’t really understand – isn’t the question still hypothetical if you give a narrative answer? Why can you deal with it in narrative but not in multiple choice? If you eg blocked the multiple choice answers, wrote your narrative answer and then compared it to the multiple choice options and picked the one closest to your narrative, would that work?

Anonymous

well that clearly strikes out disputes for her since that is essentially what is demanded

almosthippy

I am glad this was the result however, from a purely selfish point of view, I find it frustrating that these sorts of tests are allowed at all, regardless of disability.

I also took this test (about 6 years ago) and did not pass. From how Terri has described her difficulty with the questions and answers, I had exactly the same problems. There was not enough information in the question to properly form an opinion, nor did any of the answers actually reflect what I would do in a given situation. The advice to ‘pick the closest one’ is useless; either none of the answers remotely matched what I would do or 3 out of 4 half matched. When I took it the test was only 17 questions long, which is not enough to offset for randomly selecting one of the 2 or 3 better choices and hoping you’d got it correct.

I am not saying I have an ASC; I am simply saying that I don’t see how anyone with well-developed critical analysis skills could take that test and not experience the same problems, to differing degrees.

The test and the result completely put me off the GLS to be honest. (No sour grapes… I got a TC that year and have since qualified and love where I am.) Why would I want to work anywhere that placed any importance on such a ridiculous test? Why would I want to work for people who lack the critical thinking to see a problem with that test.

I actually re-took the test with both my parents helping out (a GP and a consultant occupational healthcare physician) because I’d ranted at them for so long about how stupid it was. Neither could believe that the test would be as bad as I said, but I don’t, as a general rule, cock up exams. (Had I passed on this attempt I obviously would not have proceeded with my application.)

The three of us, combined, failed it again. I had the great pleasure of hearing my mother tell me I was right (a rare occurrence!). As the situational judgment test is supposed to reveal your moral character, I have since just assumed that to work for the GLS, your moral character has to be below a certain level, rather than above it.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Some of these questions are ok, some ask you to make all sorts of assumptions. I remember reading an article that described what the model answers were to a particular question. Well, one of them said something like ‘the students wouldn’t have been talking about equalities isues because it is well known that students are lazy and not interested in such things’!?

I suspect that they somehow weren’t counting on law students doing this particular test – who may well be lazy, but may well bring the discussion aroundto equalities.

There was nothing in the text to indicate that ‘students are lazy’.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The situational judgement tests assess a combination of moral character and ability to take responsibility in a situation. So the answer isn’t always ‘I’d just refer to someone more senior’.

(0)(0)

Anon

Yeah, sorry that was unnecessary.

(1)(0)

Terri Brookes

I have a degree from sussex and the rest of my education has been carried out at London Met. An institution that I am proud to be part of and who have allowed me to be who I am without predjudice and who have given me the confidence and skill set to be a great lawyer. I would be an even better one given the chance with the right firm. 75% average on the LPC and 77% average so far on my LLM. The GLS may not employ me, and that is ok with me, but the doorway is now open for others with my condition in all areas where psychometric testing maybe an issue. My PhD is something I look forward to not as a back up but as a hobby!

(7)(11)

Anonymous

“Also, she’s reapplying after suing them?! Yeah, no, neither they nor any law firm would want anything to do with her”

If they turned her down on that basis it would constitute victimisation, so she would have a further Employment Tribunal claim she could (and should) bring. At this rate, I expect she’s getting pretty good at them.

(10)(1)

botzarelli

It might have changed in the intervening 25 years (it’s the civil service though, so it probably hasn’t!) but when I went through the application process for a GLS traineeship a big part of the selection board involved group exercises. One required the whole group to agree on the line to take in a piece of advice to a fictional minister in relation to an exercise of discretion. The other had each member of the group to argue for the prioritisation of a piece of proposed legislation against the others so that they would ultimately come to agreement on which two Bills should be promoted by the government in the next Queen’s Speech. I suspect that these tasks would be even more daunting than a written situational judgment test for someone whose Aspergers manifests itself in the way Brookes describes.

These scenarios were actually, from my subsequent experience in the GLS, pretty realistic. Even as a Legal Trainee both were things I actually did (although it had to wait for a change of government before my old department won the real life version of the second exercise and got the Competition Act onto the statute books!).

I think Brookes has done extremely well in winning her case and it shows that she clearly has the aptitude to become an excellent solicitor or barrister. But I’m really not very convinced that it demonstrates anything about aptitude for the actual work of GLS lawyers in central government or in any policy or advisory role.

It is also probably noteworthy that a situational judgment test is a significant part of the assessment process for the judiciary. Do we really want to appoint judges without having any idea of how they might approach cases they decide? That would seem to be a realistic prospect on the basis of Brookes’ case.

(17)(2)

World (mental ) Health Organisation

Once more, LC holds up the mentally ill to scorn and ridicule and utterly destroys her career. Terri Brookes is now unemployable.

(4)(14)

Terri Brookes

I wasn’t having much luck before the case so LC can not be held responsible for the negative and closed minded attitudes of those that may comment. I am more than capable of working in the legal profession or indeed any other with the right qualifications and reasonable adjustments of course. Anyone willing to give me a chance certainly would nit regret it. In the mean time i am happy to represent and speak out for those that for whatever reason do not have a voi e in relation to disability.

(22)(5)

Anonymous

Is a law firm really the best place for someone with “Asperger’s syndrome, dyslexia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)” and someone who can’t work out what they should do if given a hypothetical situation?

Not seeking to be mean, but I wouldn’t want such a person working for me in a million years…..

(32)(15)

Terri Brookes

Then you are discriminatory without reason. If you do not know how a disability affects an individual and do not take each disability on an individual basis then you tarnish a number of highly capable individuals, me included. You are dismissing a lot of the population who have mental health issues or disabilities. Every individual has traits and a skill set unique to them and if they have the right qualifications, have the same experience and can do the job then a test proves nothing. Which is pretty much what this case hs shown. If anything, based on that comment I pity any compay you work for or indeed may manage or own

(31)(13)

Anonymous

It’s not really being discriminatory without reason. Being a lawyer is a very stressful job. The daily practicalities mean that adjustments can’t always be made. It may be unfair but it is the unavoidable reality.

(12)(6)

Anonymous

unless you’re a Stephen Hawking equivalent…who shows his brilliance by being…brilliant

(0)(0)

Somebody from this century

Is it really the best place for anybody? Everyone will have something about them that prevents them from being perfect – be it a general sense of rudeness, inability to adapt to technology, being sat in a wheelchair, poor attention to detail, or otherwise. Albeit Terri’s obstacles are greater than those faced by others it should not be a reason for you, or anybody to automatically write them off. As I understand it, the selection procedure did this. Also not meaning to be rude, Terri’s obstacles probably do mean that, unless Terri is otherwise exceptional and can bring suitable skills and ability to the table, a career in law will be difficult. Terri like all of us deserves at least a chance to prove herself. To say that you’d never want her working for you in a million years is a pretty low thing to say.

(14)(2)

Professor Plum

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

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Lets be honest, who would want her as their lawyer with that list of problems. And what employer would hire her?

(11)(23)

Terri Brookes

I do not have a list of problems! I have a list of conditions. Which, manifest themselves in a psychological matter and have actually aided me in my education and my case. I have fantastic attention to detail, I can’t lie, I am very good at analysing a situation in front of me and problem solving. I am punctual, reliable, tenacious, ambitious and determined. I don’t get angered by negativity….in fact, I am used to it and I use it as fuel!

(12)(7)

Realistic commenter

You dont get angered by negativity? You written responses to LC comments would prove otherwise…

(9)(10)

Terri Brookes

There is a difference between anger and assertiveness! I am extremely assertive as I would hope anyone would be in my situation. If I was angry/ upset by negativity I would be all consumed and quivering in a corner 😁life is too short and its too energy consuming!!! Have a great day😁😁😁🤣😂

(14)(6)

Anonymous

Yasss drag them!!!

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Hate to say it but if you can’t lie you will be seriously in trouble as a lawyer. And I don’t mean the big moral points. A number of times I’ve had to tell white lies to a client to make them feel valued when in reality I just don’t have time to make their case a priority on that day. So much client care involves managing client expectations in a way that keeps the client happy with the service. How will you do that if you “can’t lie”?

(3)(5)

Anonymous

Your various posts on here show a complete and consistent lack of attention to detail.

(4)(5)

Anonymous

problems – conditions
apples – pears
it still means you’re issue-laden

(0)(4)

Anonymous

Has Terri ever actually worked, or has she been a perpetual student?

Maybe she would be better looking for a job in academia?

(7)(8)

Anonymous

It seems she can afford to just whack out these qualifications, including a PhD, “as a hobby”. I would be very interested to know whether she has/is working to financially support this compulsion of studying any qualification that takes her fancy (and if so, where I can find a job that pays so well) or whether the academic adventures of Terri are, in fact, entirely tax-payer funded…

(11)(4)

Terri Brookes

I have worked from a very young age up until I had my daughter. Sometimes 3 jobs at a time or more to make ends meet. I then took to voluntary work virtually non stop! You can’t be a perpetual student nowdays without doing something in addition. I would very seriously consider it.

(8)(3)

Realistic commenter

Regardless of her disability, Terri was always going to struggle obtaining a TC as she studied at London Metropolitan University. Harsh, but true.

(23)(4)

Terri Brookes

Well, I chose the institution that was right for me, not what suited everyone else. I am very happy with my choice and what I have managed to acheive whilst being a student there. 😁😉

(7)(3)

Anonymous

high street firms then!

(2)(2)

Doc. Ludvig Friedrich Von Lowenstein

Fascinating case study Doc.

(0)(1)

Professor Plum

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

(0)(2)

Terri Brookes

Only if I can use chop sticks!!!

(0)(2)

World (mental ) Health Organisation

There’s enough material here for an entire convention.
It does have to be said, though, that if her multiple conditions impell her to commit career suicide, one can’t wholly blame LC. But we would have thought, not posting the article would be a start and blocking her comments for seconders would be for her own good.

(2)(2)

Terri Brookes

My conditions IMPEL me to be a better person and learn from my mistakes including my dyslexia in relation to spelling….. 😁 Enjoy your day!!!

(3)(1)

Incognito

(I’m not taking a fixed position here, I’m articulating a view which many will feel, and inviting people’s comments).

Re. “…you are discriminatory without reason. If you do not know how a disability affects an individual and do not take each disability on an individual basis then you tarnish a number of highly capable individuals, me included. You are dismissing a lot of the population who have mental health issues or disabilities…”

We are a profession which is vastly oversubscribed. For example, last year at the initial application stage we received over 800 applications for each training contract. The imperative for our HR team is to rapidly reduce the thousands of applicants to a manageable number: online testing, CV sifts, et al are critical. We can not justify spending £thousands interviewing every candidate. Two questions, therefore:

1. Re. testing specifically, we want the most able candidates – those who are adaptable enough to do *anything* within reason. This includes a robust variety of testing methods. If some people are less able to complete those tests, then this is a relevant factor, surely? I read this case report: it seems to me that all Ms Brookes has achieved is to force up the cost of recruiting by limiting the extent to which we can automate the process, which means we need adopt shorter recruiting windows, and close applications earlier, because she has forced us to eschew perfectly sensible selection tools.

2. Re. law more widely, this is an extraordinarily competitive professsion. Given the many hundreds of people applying for each job, most people are not rejected because of any personal limitations or failings, but very simply because there are superior (more able) competitors. While frustrating, this is the reason why most of us have experience of being rejected numerous times early in our careers with the blunt reason, “Sorry, other people were better than you”, until eventually improving our CVs/experience, etc. Unless someone with disabilities has – for example – the intellect of Stephen Hawking, they are simply not credible compared to the vast majority of their competition. Most successful candidates can also evidence that they have “fantastic attention to detail, [don’t] lie, [are] very good at analysing a situation in front of [them] and problem solving” and who are “punctual, reliable, tenacious, ambitious and determined”. My second question therefore is: given the astonishing competitiveness, isn’t anyone with a disability, particularly cognitive disabilities as in this case, vanishingly unlikely to be competitive, and shouldn’t we encourage realism?

3. A barrister commented on a post recently (https://www.legalcheek.com/2017/04/diversity-isnt-working-says-somali-refugee-who-beat-odds-to-become-a-barrister/#comment-1015273):

“The BSB, Media and scorned students can whinge, whine, bleat and screech all they want, but sets of chambers will NOT start recruiting sub-par applicants simply because it promotes diversity in the profession. Unlike law firms, for example, chambers are far less invested in promoting a politically correct corporate message, and thus far more invested in recruiting candidates based on merit alone. Please abandon this relentless and myopic pursuit of ‘diversity’.”

Is is perhaps a fact that most people with disabilities simply won’t be as able as most of the competition, that ‘diversity’ is directly in conflict with merit, and that merit ultimately is what matters? Unpalatable to those of a left-wing political bent, but true?

(26)(9)

Left-is-best

You raise some fair points, then make yourself sound like a bit of an idiot by making that left-wing comment.

(8)(6)

Incognito

Mmm. Perhaps fair – why alienate people? I could have omitted that; thanks for the feedback.

You must concede though, surely, that the political right is – correctly or otherwise – traditionally in favour of a harsher, ‘survival of the fittest’, merits-based approach, generally speaking? Perhaps I’m wrong, but that’s my impression.

(10)(3)

Bumblebee

As you’re expressly inviting comments, and as I’m the person you quote in the above, let me provide my two cents.

1. I do not agree with this point. There is a difference between being ‘less able to complete those tests’ and being ‘less competent in the skill which the test is designed to assess’. No test is perfect and, if a competency can be better assessed by making a reasonable adjustment, it makes sense to make that reasonable adjustment.

A good example would be providing a numerical reasoning test where the questions are written in braille. As the name suggests, a numerical reasoning test is not designed to test one’s eyesight. Therefore, a blind student’s inability to complete that test is not a ‘relevant factor’.

I get the point that providing adjustments may drive up costs etc. But this is where the word ‘reasonable’ comes into play. If it’s a simple and relatively inexpensive matter to provide a test paper in Braille, just do it. That’s our duty to our fellow man – namely, to spend a little bit of time and energy on levelling the playing field.

2. I similarly disagree with this point for essentially the same reasons. There is no doubt that a blind employee will, all other things being equal, cost an employer more than a fully sighted employee. But, so long as that cost is reasonable, it is a duty we owe to one another.

3. I agree that often disabled people will simply be less-able than their able-bodied peers. But it just comes down to a matter of degree.

If a blind person is applying for a job which barely requires one to read, and the cost of translating a few materials to braille is small, then I say remove the cost of those translation services from the decision-making process. A firm which hires a blind piano tuner will only be marginally less competitive than a firm which hires a fully-sighted piano tuner.

If, however, a blind person is applying for a job as a proof reader, clearly the disability itself actually affects one’s proficiency. A firm which hires a blind proof reader will be far less competitive than a firm which hires a fully-sighted proof reader.

As for my original comment, I view blindness as an unfair and harsh disability, and so I think that, as a society, we should help to share the cost of that disability. I do not, however, view any one ethnicity as a disability, which I why I am so opposed to granting concessions on account of one’s race. If it costs an employer more to employ a black person over a white person then, all things being equal, the employer should employ the white person (and vice versa). The only people who take race into the decision-making process are racists and SJWs which, in one sense, are one and the same.

(9)(1)

Left-is-best

In general, yes. But for some like myself (I do in fact subscribe to the merits based approach, albeit with the caveat that existing merit is where somebody lies at the existing moment and that it is not necessarily the only indicator as to future merit), we vote left because of a number of other reasons.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

I think the right is only interested in the self, where the left is interested in the social aspect. So the right would think that it’s great to be ale to have a hideout in the woods and shoot anyone who comes near, while the left would think about how it’s better for the whole of society to have better healthcare and education systems.

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Terri Brookes

Well, the barristers I were up against were top of their game. Band C and B treasury barristers. As was the solicitor and the three members of GLS senior management. Yet, they managed to overlook the law that they help write and form as civil servants and lose the case. Yet as a disabled candidate I am deemed “sub-par”…. clearly not the case. Alternative methods of assessment do not weaken the assessment process! They simply widen the application process to those who are qualified in the field, but who maybe at a detriment, with regard to standard application processes.

In relation to automation of processing automated services are as good as the people behind it. It my cost less initially but when it goes wrong a human being is still required and cost is still accrued in its repair. Having an alternative mode of assessment on standby for those that request it costs very little extra in monetry terms or time…..if, you know what you are doing!

(8)(14)

Doc. Litevsky

Yes Doc, her dyslexia is plain to see.
How is she even going to be able to write a letter?

(2)(8)

Anonymous

Who writes letters anymore?

(1)(0)

Terri Brookes

Here is a letter I prepared for you earlier…..’A’.

Have a great day! 😁

(3)(8)

Real Employer in the Real World

As an employer and HR manager, I might have 300 CVs for one position. I don’t use any tests, except the waste paper bin test. I just whisk through the CVs; a cursory few seconds is enough to bin 250 CVs. Any hint of mental or physical illness creates an automatic flip of the wrist ejecting the CV into the bin.
Of the remaining 50, I might actually have to read more than the first page of the CV. The burden of this is lessened by the automatic binning of any CV more than 3 pages long. Again any soupcon of mental or physical illness and the autonomic wrist myoclonic jerk spasms the CV into the bin.
Thereafter I am left with 20 compos mentis CVs which I actually read. Of these I call 3 or 4 into interview.

(3)(31)

Anonymous

You’re a prick and you’re bad at your job

(28)(3)

Terri Brookes

Here’s hoping there is a law suit coming your way from a minority group near you! Preferably, they would win and ask for a lot more in damages than I did!!!

(16)(4)

Anonymous

I’m gonna go ahead and guess you aren’t actually an HR manager and are talking a load of bollocks

(18)(0)

Anonymous

Real Employer in the Real World, myoclonic spasms of such a regular occurrence as you describe are often an indicator of a neurological condition. On that basis, I think you need to throw yourself in the bin.

I’d say ‘jerk yourself into the bin’, to use your own terminology, but I’m sure that is a pastime you’ve already mastered while revelling in your own false sense of grandeur.

Either way, I trust you will follow the usual processes to remove yourself from the company that currently employs you.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

I recently got to the last round of tests on the GLS application before being cut. It is, in my view, a far more objective and meritocratic process than most law firms use. Anyone who does well on the tests gets a shot at an interview.

In this case it was just the situational awareness test which tripped her up, which is probably the least objective psychometric test going. It doesn’t really seem like a good way to test situational awareness. I would support making disability adjustments for that specific test and giving an interview, provided the candidate does well enough on the other tests.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Well done to Terri – although I wouldn’t apply again to the GLS!

I notice in the comments that a few people have made an attempt at a sensible comment but there are some serious issues with the underlying assumptions made that need to be challenged:

Assumption 1) that its’ too “hard” to change the recruitment process for one person – when you’re the GLS or big law firm, that’s rubbish. Moreover, my understanding of the case is that she wanted a reasonable adjustment, rather than refusing to be assessed on one criteria. This is aside from the fact that most psychometric tests don’t prove performance as a lawyer, there are plenty of other ways of testing the requisite skills.

Assumption 2) that because law is so hard/stressful/competitive, we cannot have people with issues. I’ve used the word “issues” deliberately as even smaller problems may cause people difficulty in getting into their careers. The problem with this assumption is the idea that those with any kind of disability/issue cannot hack it – they can, and we know (through LC alone!) of many solicitors and barristers who just need some form of support in one way or another (disability or not) and who then flourish in the profession. It’s not about competition nor wanting to be PC – if someone really has a condition that makes their job impossible that’s one thing (and my understanding is that this doesn’t applying in this case,) but when someone just needs reasonable adjustments, it’s another.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Further thought – I seem to be under the impression that under the Equality Act 2010, reasonable adjustments should be made for those protected under the act. I assume the kinds of disabilities mentioned are protected. If so, surely GLS were in the wrong from the start, and thought they could just get rid of this candidate who wouldn’t have the gall to challenge it? Unless I’ve misunderstood…

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Terri Brookes

I may reconsider but the reasonable adjustments need to be tested at the very least. Otherwise by law I can’t enforce the judgement. As I said this case isn’t and wasn’t just about me! Thanks.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Good for you Terri! Well done for effecting a change to help others – inspiring. I wish you every success with your GLS application and as a lawyer. The negative comments on this thread aren’t worth your time.

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Terri Brookes

Thank you for your support! Much appreciated.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Psych tests are useless. All they are is a good defence for recruiters for rejecting people they don’t really want. My department has an old school strategy that works – personal recommendations are weighted heavily, interview over a coffee with technical questions thrown in alongside common sense/commercial tests.

We have a heavily dyslexic lad in our team and it means nothing to us. He dictates a lot to get around this and he does all his deal by telephone with a senior paralegal seeing off the paperwork. Disability should not be a barrier in law.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

A quick read of the judgment indicates that the court had no evidence to suggest that the inability to answer the multiple choice test in that format was likely to be reflective of an Asperger’s candidate having poorer decision-making skills. It appears that GLS did not provide any. In those circumstances, it seems to have been the correct decision.

(6)(0)

Lord Harley

What happened to my reasonable adjustment case?!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Terri, you are arguing with idiots on the internet. They are never going to be talked around despite how much you respond.

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Terri Brookes

My last response of the day and in fact well to the article in that case goes to you…….😂🤣😁😆😂😂 Enjoy your evening!

(5)(0)

Tim NicebutDim

I initially felt quite a bit of respect for Terri, but after her comment section antics I can’t help but feel she has the touch of the self-righteous snob about her..

(5)(5)

Anonymous

She has to try and make up for her ‘education’ at London Met through using a façade of empowering comments to justify her self-worth.

(5)(4)

Anonymous

TBH, I skimmed very lightly. SJTs are a piece of piss and don’t really have any impact on disabilities. You have an unlimited amount of time to do them. It’s not about intelligence, it’s about common sense and work experience.
e.g. a basic question would be – you have a lot of urgent important work, you have a deadline of tomorrow and it’s going to be a struggle to complete. x asks you to do some more also for tomorrow, do you i) willing to please x, you say yes, you’ll manage because you’ll work very hard and later ii) suggest delegating it to y who isn’t very busy and prioritise your given work. It’s that sort of thing.

That being said, I don’t think STJs are a worthwhile challenge – and at the end of the day, if someone really doesn’t know how to respond to the questions, then they can be taught and can learn…which is what being a trainee is all about. I agree some answers are ambiguous but most aren’t…it’s the reading/comp time pressurised ones which are more problematic. Because they’re not based on what the passage says, but the (often subjective) interpretation of statements within the passage and where you have similar answers to decide between under considerable time pressure. It’s wholly artificial and you get better with practise.

I’ve done pretty much all of the ones run by law firms. Many firms/GLS etc. actually use the same test providers (I can’t remember what they’re all called) with the SAME questions!! I’ve done tests for Freshfields which were the same for Linklaters etc. and e.g. failed the first one, but got a whole bunch of extra time doing it again because I’d read it all before and knew the answers and which ones I should have considered more carefully.

I don’t think they’re a good mark of intelligence, just a lazy way of filtering applicants with no real rhyme or reason to get the numbers down. There is a lot of ambiguity in all psychometrics generally, but especially the ones law firms run. The LNAT used this. I scored 14/30 doing it, and got rejections from a whole bunch of first choice universities. I got 5 As and a B at A-level, and all A*s at GCSE…it is competitive to be sure, but the LNAT score was the big reason, and universities (at that time) really concentrated on the top 3 A-levels. I couldn’t get an interview at Oxford and I couldn’t get into UCL, but I got good A-levels and a top first. I couldn’t get interviews at mid ranking City firms, but I could get an American and MC firm. And the reason for that was largely psychometrics.

So I don’t think it’s something which affects someone with disabilities unless you have dyslexia with the time pressurised ones. I do agree it’s all a waste of time and proves nothing at all about innate ability, talent or skill. So yeah, fukk em.

(3)(0)

Real Employer in the Real World

I do make reasonable adjustments for the mentally ill. I put a sign up on my front window “No Mental Health or Disability law available here. Please go to Bloggs & Co 50 yards down the road”.
Bloggs & Co were my main competitors until I turned their practice into a mentally ill and disabled one.

(1)(6)

Anonymous

Asperger’s syndrome is no measure of intelligence.

There was a girl in my class at school who had Asperger’s. She got top marks in all the subjects and was off the scale in terms of literacy, but found interacting with people socially to be extremely difficult and still wore nappies as late as year 9 because her brain would become so absorbed in the task in hand that it could only concentrate on one thing at a time and would ignore her body’s signals. She also had to be reminded to eat and sleep.

She had intense (to the point of obsessional) interests and wouldn’t understand when not everyone was as interested in something as she was.

People didn’t make fun of her as it was a grammar school where difference tended to be accepted and there were a few quirky people around. Being conventionally attractive in spite of her disability probably helped.

She’s an academic now working for a respected university.

The law needs to get with the times!

(4)(0)

Charlotte

I agree! Still wearing nappies is no indicator of intelligence.

(0)(0)

Real Employer in the Real World

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

(1)(0)

Curious George

What did the deleted post say (or what was the gist of it?) I’m intrigued!

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Anon

No one is perfect for the job, but everyone has the ability to make sure they are suitable for it. Some people, like those with disabilities, just have to try a little harder to make it work.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brad_Cohen

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Well done Terri -Just ignore some of the snide and smug comments by a few of the above contributors. The public already think (according to the SRA) that solicitors are “intimidating disinterested and arrogant”. Things can only improve with a wider agenda!

Noli illegitimi carborundum

(1)(0)

Anonymous

If I’m honest I had a lot of respect for Terri before I started reading the comments. Terri clearly you are very clever and very able if you are able to win the tribunal without lawyers , however you comments are petty and childish at best. Take the moral high ground and be humble knowing of your success.
If you can pass the test with amendments then congratulations you deserve that but I find it hard to believe anywhere reputibke will want to hirer someone who is very obviously unable to maintain a professional manner.

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