Secret trainees are revealing what City law life is really like

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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Jones Day Trainee

Trust me, after experiencing many hard drives throughout my time as a trainee I would much prefer the option of a floppy.

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I know they are a couple of months in, but you’d think they would find something a little more interesting to talk about. But I guess anonymity means you can only go with the bland stuff that could happen anywhere, for fear of being found out.

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Frustrated Writer, Bored Solicitor

The reporter stood in the far corner of the car park, drawing on his cigarette. It was his second since he arrived. He was early, so as to avoid meeting Alex on the way in, but inside he was still a little irritated at having to wait for him, particularly as for the first time it was Alex who had requested the meeting. Also, he had to get dressed in his suit, tie and dress shoes. He was not going to let Alex see him scruffy. He had an image to keep up.

The reporter stubbed out his cigarette and reflected briefly with disappointment on how he had come to be stood alone at 10 o’clock on a Friday in the darkened, third floor corner of an east London multi-story car park, waiting impatiently for the owner of a down market legal blog to arrive. He’d been a somebody, fairly described as the hot property of Fleet Street in his youth. He’d been in war zones, painting with his words a picture of the horrors of war, watching men younger than him mowed down by machine gun fire, dying horrible deaths, screaming for the relief of a hasty departure from life as they lay in a pool of their own blood. He’d travelled all seven continents reporting on news that was on the front covers of broadsheets. He’d seen the depths of humanity, interviewing mafia dons, dictators, tyrants and Piers Morgan. Seeing the darkness of a human soul, talking to people who would think nothing of ordering genocide on a whim, getting under their skin, could only cause trauma to person, and that was why the reporter had gradually unravelled. The offers had dried up over the years as a reputation for a hedonistic personal life, an attempt to cover the trauma of what he had seen, had caused the initial torrent of enthusiastic editors fighting for the work of a potential Pulitzer winner to tail off to the a drip of a few sympathetic offers for puff pieces from old friends.

Now, three failed marriages and five estranged kids later he was here, waiting for a man he was ashamed to be associated with.

The reporter was stirred from his thoughts by the familiar distant rattle of an aging car engine, and a distinctive grinding as the clutch did not permit a gear change to quite go through. Sure enough, a yellow, rusting Fiesta appeared up the ramp in front of him, its headlights dazzling him as it reached the top of the slope, coming to a standstill in a spot next to where he was stood. Alex emerged, wearing jeans and a faded white t-shirt, the provenance of which was given away by the words ‘Legal Week Fun Run 2008’ appearing in large, faded blue font.

Alex instinctively extended his hand as he moved towards the reporter, stopping half way when he recalled that the older man did not do niceties. “Thanks for taking the time to see me, I know you must be busy”, Alex said awkwardly, not looking the reporter in the eye.

“Yes, very. Cut to the chase, Aldridge, what do you want?” came the gruff reply.

Alex looked at the floor in front of the reporter, his left hand clutching his right elbow like a school child talking to his head teacher, eventually speaking in a quiet, reverential tone. “Well, sorry again, but, unfortunately, you see, the hits on the site really need more Not Amused stuff. People are missing her you know. People like the gentle holier-than thou trolling and come back for more. I don’t suppose you could do some more?”

Alex paused as he saw the reporter’s expression change from disdain to exasperation.

“You do know how this works, right?” the reporter said, sarcastically, not waiting for a response. “You know, someone does work and you give them money? Not a string of failed deadlines, bounced checks and several boxes of Denning t-shirts that are worth less than the dog mess on my shoe?”.

The reporter sighed and looked at the ceiling briefly, returning to look at Alex, who was now hunched over, having slowly crept back three paces from him. “As I told you before. Pay me and the comments return. We’ve been through this before. You pay me and I write. I can do your articles one by one if you pay me, but if you want the comments, the good stuff, you pay me the regular fee every month. Remember the old times, when I was trolling the heck out of your site? I did that Occupy the Inns guy. The Nightowl Attorney with his wigs shtick? People hated that guy”. Alex nodded slowly, still looking everywhere but the reporter’s direction.

“You were going crazy for the hits back then. We all benefitted. But that was when you were paying me. I know you’ve tried yourself, but did you really think anyone believed Adam Dean was real? That nonsense with the DLA magic circle thing? Saying he was at Jones Day but also looking for a training contract? And don’t get me started on this Tim disabled troll. Pathetic.” The reporter spat out the words, and slowly shook his head.

The reporter was a hard man, with a tough shell grown during his earlier life making him not entertain fools gladly. But seeing a grown man cry was not on his to-do list for that day, and he could see that was a distinct possibility.

“Look, Alex, let me break it down for you, nice and easy”, he said, adopting a more gentle tone. “Pay me, I knock out those comments like you won’t believe. Don’t pay me, I won’t, OK?”.

Alex nodded again, a whimper escaping him.

The reporter turned to the nearby pedestrian exit. “I think we’re done here. Don’t call me, I’ll call you”.

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Corbyn. Symphathiser

I think your writing is rather good. I have certainly read best selling books in recent times with a far inferior style. While I don’t share your animosity towards the founder of this site, I was entertained throughout. Good job, my dude!

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For the unaware among us, graduate recruitment brochures are a crock of cold cat piss. City trainees will be routinely abused, and they’re expected to be grateful for the privilege. Don’t worry, though. If you get through it, you’ll be able to do the same to the next cohort.

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Top Secret Trainee

I was a secret city trainee. We were trained by the SAS, in covert reconnoitering, day and night.
We needed to master a rigorous physical fitness regime, camouflage, abseiling, assassination, micro photography , computer hacking, abduction and torture.
I cannot reveal operation details or even the top secret equipment we used.
But I can reveal the OP is pure fiction.

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I can usually spot an Oxbridge graduate by their enduring qualities of humility, self-deprecation, total lack of ego and amazing sense of humour


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Who gave the trio the impression that anyone gives 2 fxxks about the real law firm life?

I had an interview with 2 partners 2 weeks ago and when I mentioned Suits they thought I was referring to their lousy 1990s work costumes…
It’s the same guys who lie on their online profiles on how actual their firm is and forward thinking

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These millennial graduates all aspire to be egotistical wank stains only then to moan when they are given the opportunity to learn and be subjected to the wank staining ropes.

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