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Exclusive: City law firm asks trainees to pull all nighter days after promising to support lawyers mental health

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Leaked email sent late on Friday tells trainees who said no that they must ‘provide evidence’ of their ‘inability to help’

sleeping lawyers

A top City law firm asked a group of its trainees to pull an all nighter just days after publically promising to support its lawyers’ mental wellbeing, Legal Cheek can reveal. The firm, which we have chosen not to name, then asked rookies who didn’t volunteer to “provide evidence” of their inability to help.

In an email leaked to Legal Cheek (pictured below), an associate requested urgent support with a document review task for the firm’s Tokyo office. The message — fired off at 4:43pm last Friday (ouch!) — asks that trainees who “have [the] capacity to assist” to get in touch.

A screenshot of the first email

In a follow-up email (pictured below), again leaked to us, a partner in the firm’s London office promptly responds to the request and tells trainees who decline that they will need to need to “be prepared to provide evidence” of their “inability to help”. This, according to the partner, includes “other business critical commitments this afternoon/evening and tomorrow morning, including details of those commitments.”

A screenshot of the of the follow-up email

Legal Cheek understands that the follow-up email was already being investigated internally before being leaked to us and that the partner in question has since been spoken to. As for the trainee volunteers, it is understood they were reviewing documents until 4:30am and were back up at 8am on Saturday to finish the job off.

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While accepting that long hours were part and parcel of City life, a source told us that the partner’s email was not particularly well-received given it came just days after the outfit publically marked World Mental Health Day by trumpeting its support for good wellbeing in the workplace. The insider continued:

“Trainees were terrified to leave the office as their plans were only to go home and see family or a weekend trip abroad. I felt pissed off that this follow-up request was only 20 mins behind the original [email].”

Wellbeing in the profession has become somewhat of a hot topic in recent years.

Last year, research produced by the Junior Lawyers Division showed that the percentage of rookie solicitors who have experienced mental health problems had more than doubled over the past year. This came on the back of a number of highly-publicised Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal cases in which solicitors cited mental health and stress-related issues.

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193 Comments

Anonymous

We are working too hard comrades!

Jeremy Corbyn will implement a four day week and redistribute greed of high earning partners!

FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW!!!

(2)(8)

Anonymous

There is no other way to make 100k at 25 without doing this or IB so that’s why people do it

(1)(1)

Well being a pr1ck at the Bar

ABSOLUTE B0770CKS…

You could be a prostitute.

£50 and turn. Twice an hour= £100/HR

25 hrs a week= £2500/week

= £10,000/month

= £100,000 working 10months a year

The other 2 months I spent in a delightful clap clinic in Phuket, where I also avail myself of a smorgasbord of lady boys…

(7)(0)

Insider

Have you seen the follow up?

The partners are demanding a meeting of all trainees with the expectation that whoever leaked this to LC fesses up!

If they don’t, all trainees emails will be trawled to find out!

(13)(3)

Anonymous

No way. More info plz!!!

(5)(0)

Anonymous

That’s straight up bollocks.

(3)(0)

Roman slave

I’m Spartacus!!!

(2)(0)

CC slave

I’m Fartacus!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Partners are such dicks. No leadership skills whatsoever.

(1)(0)

Insider

No-one fessed up.

The email trawl will happen and the leaker will meet with “serious consequences for their career”.

Watch this space!

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Stop spreading sh1te.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Any updates? Following these comments is better than anything LC writes!

(2)(0)

Anonymous

That’s so unfair. Conduct like this should be leaked so prospective trainees at least have some transparency over the life they’re choosing. Law firms are so condescending when they make these demands, claiming that well, you chose this, but nowhere in their graduate recruitment do they say that you’re subject to this kind of abuse. The partner’s conduct crosses the line, it’s completely unacceptable to intimidate trainees into doing all nighters. If this hadn’t been leaked, that partner would not have been held accountable for their conduct. Bullies need to know that their conduct carries consequences. This is precisely the information that should be published so that students know which firms to avoid when applying for training contracts.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

The pictures look like they were taken with a phone camera rather than being screenshots. I really hope they were and that the trainee in question sent it from their personal email account. It would be so sad if someone is fired for this. It’s also an argument in favour of revealing the firm — much easier for the firm to get rid of the trainee if it hasn’t been publicly identified.

(0)(0)

Wellbeing at the bar

Fancy a back rub???

(2)(1)

Anon.

If Legal Cheek supports the important efforts to improve mental wellbeing among employees in law firms, it would publish the name of this law firm.

(13)(0)

Oxford PPE

It’s an LC sponsor firm, so Alex won’t reveal the name. Alex is such a hypocrite.

(10)(0)

Wolverhampton Pee Pee E

Genius!

(0)(0)

CC Trainee (Corporate PE)

Clifford Chance. I’m glad a fellow trainee leaked this but extremely disappointed that LC didn’t have the balls to publish the firm’s name.

(6)(5)

Anonymous

You’re clearly not at CC given this email is not from CC. Back to first year public law you go.

(9)(2)

Anonymous

Shut up you fool. This was Bakers. Fact.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Project management is so fucking woeful at law firms. Doc review can never be this urgent.

Time for law firms to spend some money and invest in people to organise workflow. Partners are useless at any form of management, but too greedy to sacrifice a bit of PEP. I spent half my TC hoping I’d get a ‘quiet’ partner. Half of your cohort will be leaving at 6:30 regularly whilst the other half forget what sunlight looks like, all for the same money.

Either sort out work allocation, or pay those who have to deal with this proper bonuses.

(7)(0)

Insider

A trainee was spotted leaving with a cardboard box at 5pm this afternoon.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Oh no, how sad. That’s really very harsh.

(1)(0)

ABC

Hang on, a bit of perspective… being asked if you have capacity and it’s not even 5pm yet? That’s about as tame a request as you are likely to see once working somewhere truely busy.

If everyone available puts their hand up the job gets spread, rather than one poor soul taking all the work. If the majority avoid helping I can see why the partner wants to know why. If you are the only person left in the office at midnight on a Friday it’s probably because you already have too much to do. Can’t say I’d want many of the whingers on this forum backing me up when things get busy.

(0)(0)

Clifford McKenzie

Genius idea by LC to refuse to name the firm. That way there are 100+ extra comments compared to what it would have generated otherwise.

Can’t believe all the trainees didn’t volunteer anyway.

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.

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