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Secret trainees are revealing what City law life is really like

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Elitist partners, recruitment event fibs and shafted PAs

A trio of City trainees are riskily delving beyond the glossy graduate recruitment brochures and providing wannabe lawyers with an unfiltered view of life within corporate law.

Launched earlier this month, ‘The Secret Trainee’ is a weekly blog produced by three London trainees called Megan, James and David (Legal Cheek understands they work at different firms.) The authors stress that all posts are “substantially true”, and hope to “shine a light” on some of the more “outrageous” corporate goings-on.

And the City threesome are so far keeping to their end of the deal.

In one post a trainee (blogs aren’t bylined) describes in detail what he or she thinks about several of the firm’s partners. ‘Callum’ is described as a penny-pinching partner who despite earning £750,000 a year took trainees to lunch at a “local burger chain”.

According to the post, “silver fox” Callum is also “unashamedly elitist” and has said he’d like to see more “top, top people” from Oxbridge hired as trainees — despite having never studied there himself. Meanwhile, fellow firm partner and immaculate dresser ‘Leanne’ apparently “once shouted in a trainee’s face (“You stupid girl!”) when she inadvertently completed a contract over the phone a day before expected.”

Elsewhere on the site, one rookie lawyer reveals how they had to “effectively lie” to prospective trainees at an Oxford graduate recruitment event. They provide, among others, the following example:

Student: ‘How is the culture at your firm?’

Me: ‘It’s great — I find it very friendly, collegiate and open. People are really supportive — especially to trainees — and it’s very meritocratic, with a flat hierarchy.’

Reality: ‘My colleagues largely fall into two groups: boring people, and twats.’

Another issue that appears to grind the trio’s gears is how law firm support staff are financially “shafted”.

One trainee claims that a secretary in their department called ‘Jane’ earns far less than they do, despite having worked there for 25 years. Conceding that Jane doesn’t make important commercial or legal decisions like lawyers, our trainee reminds readers that PAs have access to “everyone’s email accounts” and “know where all the bodies are buried — literally and metaphorically.” Surely that alone is worth a pay rise?

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