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Exclusive: Government’s favourite silk Sir James Eadie QC pulls out of controversial work experience auction

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Offer to sell work experience to the highest bidder in the name of social mobility pulled after Legal Cheek asks questions — but other lawyers stick with online auction

Sir James Eadie QC

One of the country’s leading barristers has pulled out of an online auction in aid of a social mobility charity after realising that selling work experience to the highest bidder was a strange way of encouraging social mobility, Legal Cheek can reveal.

Other lawyers involved appear to be sticking with the controversial scheme despite Blackstone Chambers ace Sir James Eadie QC — who was knighted on Saturday — bailing.

All proceeds from the auction go to Ufton Court Educational Trust (UCET), a charity which helps raise the aspirations of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The bidding on a week’s worth of work experience with Eadie had reached a hefty £300 before the ad disappeared from the auction website. Luckily, we’ve got the screenshots.

The highest bidder, according to the ad, would have had the opportunity to work alongside the top silk in chambers, read case papers and visit court.

Although far from the only lawyer to offer work experience as part of the fundraising drive, Eadie isn’t just any old QC. As First Treasury Counsel, he’s the government’s barrister of choice when big courtroom battles such as the Gina Miller case heat up.

The 2018 Chambers Most List

A spokesperson for Blackstone Chambers told us:

“This was a well-intentioned offer made by James Eadie QC to support a local charity, the Ufton Court Educational Trust, which aims to raise aspirations and achievements of all children and in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds. James nonetheless now recognises the offer does not fit with a commitment to equal opportunities and to encourage social mobility and as such has been withdrawn. He will instead be making a personal donation to the charity.

Blackstone Chambers is a strong advocate of social mobility and is involved in various CSR programmes; in recent years it has worked with organisations such as Lawyers in Schools, the Guy Fox Project, the Social Mobility Foundation and others.”

Littleton Chambers‘ Timothy Higginson, a commercial and chancery specialist, is still offering a week-long placement. You can, as things stand, snap him up for £200. Littleton Chambers declined to comment.

Law firms also feature on the auction page. South West-based outfit Trethowans is listed as offering a week-long placement to the highest bidder. Field Seymour Parkes, a full-service firm in Reading, is listed as doing the same. Again, all cash raised goes to UCET. Legal Cheek asked both firms for comment but neither had responded by time of publication.

A spokeswoman from UCET told us:

“The work experience auction is a straight forward fundraising event, 100% of profits will be used internally by the charity to support our charitable objects. Our aims at Ufton Adventure are simple, to raise the aspiration and attainment of disadvantaged children through programmes of repeated outdoor education. Successful bidders will not only be helping their own children, they will be part of Ufton’s story, helping less advantaged children to succeed in life as well.”

Earlier this year, commercial outfit Hill Dickinson withdrew a work experience placement it had donated to a charity auction, describing the auction lot as “a well-intentioned attempt by a partner to raise funds for a worthy charity which had not been thought through”. Freshfields and Allen & Overy performed similar U-turns in 2016.

UPDATE: 18:58pm — 12 June

Field Seymour Parkes has now issued the following statement:

“On reflection we appreciate that our participation in this particular fund raising initiative by Ufton could be misinterpreted and as a result we have withdrawn from participation in the auction but in order to ensure that Ufton Court Educational Trust and in particular the disadvantaged children that it supports do not lose out from our withdrawal we are making a donation direct to the charity.”

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66 Comments

Anonymous

Shouldn’t be allowed.

Full stop.

(19)(20)

Anonymous

Why not?

(2)(6)

Anonymous

Because it is insanely hypocritical? Encouraging work experience seekers to hand over hundreds of pounds, when MANY brilliant aspiring barristers can’t even afford the 12 inn dinners, in the name of raising money for kids who couldn’t afford to buy work experience to become barristers…

How about the Bar just gets their act together and focus on removing the nepotism, cronyism, and general archaic nature of the profession.

They should also sort out the insane shortage in qualification opportunities. Say what you want about solicitors, but at least the SRA is putting in serious efforts to get people to a competent standard through a variety of methods. Whilst dealing with the issues surrounding qualification they should probably deal with the predatory practices of private for-profit “educational” institutions delivering the allegedly regulated course.

Seriously, how is this not even common sense?

(17)(15)

Anonymous

You ok hon?

(7)(4)

Anonymous

What have you got against full stops?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

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

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Maybe they should do a reverse auction, the lowest unique bidder wins, that should help with social mobility!!!

(10)(4)

A trust fund with a trust fund

There’d be no unique bidder: everyone would bid £0, as there’s little no advantage to bidding any higher amount

(5)(8)

Anonymous

I don’t think you understand how a reverse auction works. God forbid you ever have to get your head around a Vickrey

(4)(1)

Big Dolla

Lowest UNIQUE bidder, you moron.

(3)(0)

Play the Game or Game Play You

Maximum 5 bids per person.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Morons

(1)(2)

Anonymous

That’s no way to talk to Katie and Tom

(2)(2)

Anonymous

What a disgrace. Well done LC!

(10)(4)

Anonymous

This should only be allowed if the money received from the auction is used to subsidise a free work experience placement for a less privileged student.

(31)(14)

Anonymous

Baffled at those voting negatively at thus proposal. Free work experience subsidisation seems reasonable.

(12)(9)

A trust fund with a trust fund

Because auctioning work experience places is inherently anti-meritocratic?

(8)(4)

Anonymous

Using the rich to fund the poor as proposed above helps to level the playing field.

(9)(0)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Capitalist scum. JC would send people like this to the gallows.

(2)(11)

Anonymous

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

(3)(3)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Says the fascist, rascist, anti Semitic, misogynistic homophobe.

Bugger off.

(0)(5)

Trumpenkrieg

Are you quite all right?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Anyone who disagrees is a fascist

(4)(7)

Ex Barrister

There is absolutely no reason why mini-pupillages should not be easily available if various chambers could just stop creating unnecessary bureaucracy. While they may be dressed up as a formal placement, they are usually just an opportunity to shadow barristers.

I would have been happy to have had someone shadowing me most weeks when I was at the Bar, but my set liked to have a formal process which greatly reduced the numbers we could accommodate. While these QC’s are scratching their heads about social mobility, they could simply offer unofficial work experience which would be just as valuable.

(17)(1)

Anonymous

Good person. I got out of the Bar too, it’s a general shit show at the moment and I was at a half decent commercial chancery set.

(3)(2)

Ex Barrister

It certainly is.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The whole point of pupillage, and now mini-pupillage, is to throw up barriers to entry and reduce competition. The QC /”silk” concept likewise has the main purpose to reduce competition for the better paid and more interesting cases. These are maggots in the dying body of a failing establishment that has let Britain down. Both should be scrapped immediately and a system of fair competition put in place.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I would pay good money not to do a work placement with Not Amused.

(8)(4)

Anonymous

Pay me £1,233.45 and buy me a toy Ferrari and I’ll let you shadow me for 22 hours continuously in chambers!

(2)(0)

Anonymous

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

(1)(0)

A parrot

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

(2)(0)

JD Partner

Done a fair bit of controversial pulling out in my time.

(36)(0)

Anonymous

I can’t imagine that paying for work experience will look especially good on one’s CV. Applicants should be awarded mini-pupillages on merit, and chambers should provide some basic financial assistance for travel.

I would be hesitant to afford any weight to a mini based on quid pro quo, and would question the judgement of any applicant including such on their CV.

(2)(1)

A trust fund with a trust fund

How would you know, unless the applicant told you themselves?

Also, presumably work exp is useful for finding out more about a line of work rather than just as a cv brownie point?

(3)(1)

Not the Secret Barrister

Broadly speaking:

1, You cannot call it a mini-pupillage unless there has been open competition;

2, It wouldn’t be with chambers but with an individual;

3, Barristers generally have a keen eye for detail and would likely infer something odd from the above;

4, The experience does have value, but it is at a net loss when you pay for it (as that would – personally – lower my opinion of their ability and judgment such as to outweigh the experience).

(2)(2)

A trust fund with a trust fund

presumably the applicant could simply not tell you about this work exp at all, while still benefiting from the career knowledge it would provide?

(2)(0)

Corbyn.Sympathiser

I would like to say a very sincerely held sorry for my earlier post.

I get carried away.

I just want people to recognise that not all people on the left smell or urine and have small pieces of feces stuck in their beards.

We do not all want to have naked cuddles with our friends (terrorist groups).

We do not all think that its unfair to shoot people who are trying to kill you and some of us recognise the rules relating to self-defence. We just think that if someone tells you they want to kill you, and then actually try to, including my use of loaded weapons, you should still try to talk. At least until the bullet is actually airbourne.

Oh silly me i digress…

Anyway social mobility is really good. We think this can be achieved by summarily executing anyone who earns over 32k and then giving their property to anyone who is too lazy to get out of bed before 11am.

(9)(6)

Anonymous

Naked cuddles ain’t so bad… you should try some, they might put you off summarily executing everyone.

(1)(3)

Dave Cameron (formerly Corbyn.Sympathiser)

You really are a tasty crumb on my beard!

(0)(1)

Corbyn.Sympathiser

This is one of my many, many, many, cosplayers again. I know I am some sort of god in their eyes, but I wish they would just set up a fan club or something and stop pretending to be me.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

You stole the original identity from the daily paper section you mug.

(5)(4)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Nazi.

(0)(1)

Dave Cameron (formerly Corbyn.Sympathiser)

Calm down peeps. It was me all along. This is how I chillax.

(9)(1)

Anonymous

I can’t believe this. Paying your way to a successful career when others who need it can’t afford to even have experience. Money talks.

(3)(0)

Dave Cameron

Don’t come here and say pointless stupid things. If you have something to say make it relevant!!!!!!!!!!!

(0)(2)

Dave Cameron (formerly Corbyn.Sympathiser)

Can’t believe it. My cosplayer has been cosplayed. Meta.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

So the barrister pulls out and the charity loses hundreds of pounds? Hmmm… not sure that the children who would have benefitted from the auction will thank you for the interference. Idealoogy trumps real tangible help. The world has gone mad.

(1)(3)

a trust fund with a trust fund

We don’t sell certain things these days, no matter what the money is used for.

Career advancement opportunities is one of these things.

This is ‘buying a commission in the army’ level anti-meritocratic

(2)(0)

Anonymous

There are so many ways to fundraise that it seems such a waste of the barristers’ and Chambers’ time to use it on someone who isn’t from the background the charity is trying to encourage and assist.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Mini pupillages are free.

(0)(0)

Oopsy

British judges don’t use gavels

(1)(1)

Anonymous

This sums up everything that is wrong with the old boys club industry that is law!! I’m sure mummy or daddy has the American Express to hand for those fortunate enough!! Jokers

(2)(0)

TheAcresOfFour

Blackstone is committed to social mobility…LOL, you are having a laugh…

Remind me which of the carbon copy clones, with their Firsts and BCLs you’ve recruited in the last 15 years is, on any analysis, disadvantaged?

Doesn’t anyone challenge these inane, meaningless, and demonstrably false statements? Talk about bringing the profession into disrepute, there are people stood on street corners with more integrity; and they have the decency to charge reasonable hourly rates unlike these scrotes.

(13)(4)

Anonymous

I spent 10 years in London chambers. The only people in society that think lawyers have integrity are lawyers. From what I saw, they’re all money worshipping, philandering, deceitful, back stabbing dregs of society.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

100% correct.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Blackstone once swung by the LSE to run a workshop and in the Q&A said that they are actively looking for non-Oxbridge candidates.

Blatant falsehood.

By all means measure candidates by your own, hyper academic criteria but don’t induce candidates to waste a Gateway slot.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

Of their last 2 years’ new tenants (7 in total), only 3 have oxbridge undergraduate degrees. Perhaps you should check these things before sounding silly online?

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Not sure why you would downvote this when it’s demonstrably true.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

True. I see one went to Glasgow. Little wonder that Blackstone is viewed as also ran to the Magic Circle sets, 20 Essex and 7 KBW. Why would you ask someone who went to Glasgow – who by definition is intellectually 3rd rate as well as badly educated – their opinion on the law, when you can head to another chambers and instruct an Oxbridge barrister? This is a question especially relevant to City solicitors, many of whom are Oxbridge themselves: why would an Oxbridge solicitor go to someone less clever than they are to obtain legal advice?

(12)(4)

Anonymous

Lord Grabiner is not Oxbridge, hasn’t held him back in being able to charge 30,000 a day.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Lord “Grab”-iner

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Grabiner would not get a pupillage at his chambers these days. Due to his non-Oxbridge education, he was always something of an anomaly at the Commercial Bar, but he started off at a time when solicitors were far less sophisticated and indeed the City litigation solicitor did not really exist, so he was able to get ahead. He was always considered the least able of his main competition, Sumption and Pollock.

(13)(2)

Anonymous

That’s nothing, I charge £100,000 a day, and then I appear in my own court! And I’m too blind drunk and corrupt to see the conflict of interest!

(1)(0)

Eye roll

Yeah Glasgow UG sure seems to be holding Shaheed Fatima QC back

(4)(5)

Anonymous

She is not very good and owes her career to political correctness.

(2)(4)

Deed U No

Oopss – Doh 😳

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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