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Exclusive: Tycoon tried to source City training contract for businessman’s daughter during multi-million pound property deal negotiations

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Fladgate, Macfarlanes and K&L Gates among firms approached without success, according to High Court judgment

One of New Zealand’s wealthiest men tried to secure a training contract on behalf of a business associate’s daughter, according to an incredible High Court judgment. A representative of multi-millionaire Eric Watson is said to have approached a handful of law firms including Fladgate, Macfarlanes and K&L Gates, without success.

The bizarre story is linked to a long-running legal dispute between Watson and fellow New Zealand business heavyweight Sir Owen Glenn. Glenn’s Kea Investments alleged it had been deceived over parts of a joint European property venture involving Watson called Project Spartan. Mr Justice Nugee eventually ruled in Kea’s favour and ordered Watson to make an interim payment of around £25 million following a 12-week trial.

In his 376-page ruling in Glenn v Watson & Ors [2018] EWHC 2016, Justice Nugee accepted that is was “entirely natural for a father” to wish to see his daughter pursue her chosen profession. He continued: “One cannot put a monetary value to the father on that, but for the law to take the view that it would therefore have been of no interest to him seems to me quite unrealistic.”

The judge eventually found that Watson’s offer could not be dismissed as trivial and was therefore “realistically capable” of “giving rise to a conflict of interest”. As a result, Justice Nugee found that certain agreements made between the parties at the time were “voidable”.

So just how did Watson’s offer to help a young would-be solicitor transpire?

The judgment reveals that as the deal was being thrashed out, Kea Investments director Peter Dickson asked Watson for his “kind assistance” in helping his 22-year-old daughter find a training contract. In an email to one of Watson’s consultants, Dickson explained how his daughter had completed a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and was now seeking a training contract prior to starting the Law Practice Course (LPC). In a follow-up email to his consultant, Watson, who was copied into Dickson’s original request, responded: “Make this happen”.

However, the hunt for a training contract proved more difficult than first anticipated — even for one of the world’s most successful businessmen.

The first port of call was Fladgate, a London law firm that had represented Watson in the past. The judgment states that Watson’s adviser contacted Richard Reuben, a partner at Fladgate who is now chairman of the firm. It continues:

“Mr Reuben said he could not help: in large firms it was virtually impossible to get people through like this and proper applications had to be made. He suggested a smaller firm might be easier, although this would only be work experience, not a training contract.”

The next firms to be approached were City outfit Macfarlanes and New York player Graubard Miller. Both said they were unable to help, according to the judgment. Macfarlanes declined to comment and Graubard Miller did not respond to our requests for comment.

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Fifty-nine-year-old Watson, who is worth a reported £250 million, then suggested reaching out to international law firm K&L Gates via a business contact. According to the ruling, Watson’s contact said “a solicitor at K&L Gates would be happy to spend a morning with her [Dickson’s daughter] to guide her through what needed to be done to get a training contract.” It’s not clear whether the daughter met with anyone at the firm. K&L Gates did not respond to our repeated requests for comment.

The judgment also reveals that Fladgate was reapproached, with Watson’s adviser stressing in an email to Reuben that the training contract hunt was “becoming increasingly material and it would help hugely if we could deliver something here.” Appearing to grow increasingly frustrated with the lack of the progress, Watson wrote in an email to his advisor: “We will definitely move the business. I want a firm that partners us.”

With Fladgate refusing to budge, the final role of the dice appears to have come in the form of Mayfair outfit Grosvenor Law. After some initial back and forth, including the suggestion that Dickson’s daughter “would be offered an interview,” this lead proved fruitless.

In his own evidence at court, the judgment states that Watson accepted that he had offered to help Dickson’s daughter, as it was “not at all uncommon for him to try and help people they were doing business with.” On the threat to remove work from Fladgate, the judgment says that Watson was “frustrated because he was not getting his own way; that he did these things for lots of people all the time, helping people if he had the ability to do so”.

Watson did not respond to our requests for comment. Legal Cheek was unable to reach Dickson for comment.

Read the High Court judgment in full below:

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68 Comments

Anonymous

Good to see these firms standing strong and refusing to dish out a TC on demand.

(111)(3)

Anonymous

If not quite surprising

(33)(3)

Anonymous

It’s Mr Justice Nugee, not Justice Nugee. (You have made this mistake before in relation to another judge.) If you want to be taken seriously as a legal journalist, get this sort of thing right.

(44)(10)

Anonymous

And that’s the one thing you took from this article…..

(32)(5)

Anonymous

Sorry Nugee, lad

(18)(0)

Anonymous

I thought it was Nuggy!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Fladgate? The daughter must have been so desperate to stoop that low

(25)(4)

Anonymous

What’s a Fladgate and where do I buy one?

(21)(1)

Anonymous

Disagree. It’s a great firm to work for. Lovely offices in Covent Garden. Good hours. Friendly partners. Interesting work.

(28)(14)

Anonymous

Must be another slow day for Fladgate’s graduate recruitment team

(47)(9)

Anonymous

Isn’t every day?

(10)(2)

Anonymous

Nice to see LC deleting articles willy-nilly again. Muppets.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Absolutely shocking. Deleting my comment about working for Fladgate and it being a great firm. Is it because they don’t sponsor this second-rate website?! What happened to freedom of speech?

People constantly talk on here about big salaries at “MoneyLaw”, call CMS a “sweatshop”, Ashurst a “boilerroom”, laugh about being paid in biscuits at Irwin Mitchell and Jones Day partners being sexual predators of the juniors but the second someone says something positive about a West-end firm that doesn’t pay for advertising on this website… out come the censors!

Consider this as having one less reader.

(20)(2)

Anonymous

You ok hon?

(4)(2)

Anonymous

Now you’ve said this, they’ve put the comment back. Laughable.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

How embarrassing.

Anonymous

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

(0)(0)

Anonymous

CMS do offer great secondments though. Mexico, China, Brazil, etc.

Anonymous

It’s easy to. Make it sound. Like you’ve got a solid argument. With lots of points. When you write like this. Making assertions. Without evidence.

(7)(6)

Anonymous

I worked there for a couple of years, that’s good enough evidence for me. I would recommend it in a heart beat.

Most opinions on here are students slating various law firms that they haven’t set foot in unless they are the “top Moneylaw firms” paying £100k+ as NQ.

Firms like Fladgate offer great training, with a genuinely good work-life balance and are actually a nice place to work.

(33)(5)

Kirkland NQ

LOL only 100+?

(8)(9)

Anonymous

Back to your first year law studies, muppet.

(24)(0)

Kirkland NQ

Why would you train anywhere else?

(2)(7)

Dumfuk

What are you still doing here, commenting and pretending to be a K&E NQ? Go do your seminar prep already, those first year grades count.

Kirkland NQ

You don’t know me why don’t you FUCK OFF

Anonymous

A West End firm. By definition, third rate and full of third rate people.

(2)(12)

Anonymous

Yawn. You must be a first rate lawyer indeed.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Actual scoop.

(32)(0)

Anonymous

Agreed – an original story which is actually interesting which – unlike most other articles – wasn’t directly lifted from RollonFriday. I’ll need to start being nicer to LegalCheek writers in the comments now…

(35)(0)

Anonymous

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

(58)(0)

A ghastly miasma

Meet the Nugee. Same as the Oldgee.

(6)(1)

ERMAGAWD

IS THIS ACTUALLY ORIGINAL CONTENT FROM LEGAL CHEEK?

(21)(0)

MegaLad 2.0

What are the NQ rates these days at Graubard Miller? Might submit a TC app myself.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Never heard of them. A titan like Greenberg Glusker on the other hand…

(4)(0)

Anonymous

LOL! Who is this person banging on about that pokey ball odd shop Greenberg Glusker.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

When I grow up I will work for a top firm like Greenberg Glusker.

(3)(0)

Pokey Odd Ball

“pokey ball odd”

Huh?

(0)(0)

Poké Ball

Eh?

(0)(0)

Law Student

Is Duane Morris a good firm? The prospect of a secondment to Philadelphia excites me.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Top top top

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Is your father a multi-millionaire?

Have you passed your exams, done well, studied hard?

The deck is stacked against you.

These jobs are not for you.

BREXIT

CORBYN

It’s the only chance you will ever have in your lifetime to blow the system up, for good.

You’ve got nothing to lose.

(5)(6)

Kavanaughkrieg

So what? It’s a training contract not a seat in the House or Lords. Some people have connections, get over it.

(10)(19)

Anonymous

And someone better qualified or more able didn’t get that TC

(8)(3)

Anonymous

Welcome to life, some people have advantages over others by virtue of being born into more favourable circumstances. You can either drown in bitterness and frustration or fight tooth and nail to succeed anyway. Choice is yours

(13)(8)

Anonymous

Lol I wonder what camp the above poster lies in then…

(4)(0)

Anonymous

This has the potential to open the fladgates to similar allegations.

(38)(0)

Anonymous

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

(14)(1)

Anonymous

If they actually said that during your interview they’re probably one of the very few honest people in this racket. Hats off to them giving you the heads up.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Excellent comment. I similarly ignored advice prior to starting at the Bar. Am still looking forward to being paid for a case I did 6 years ago.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

LC have now deleted the comment I said was excellent. It was about Fladgate allegedly telling a potential trainee that law is a terrible career.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This is so hopelessly unfair. Work experience through nepotism is OK but a TC?!

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Deleting my comments about working for Fladgate and it being a great firm? Is that because they don’t sponsor your website?

You call yourself journalists?! What happened to free speech?! You’re an absolute shambles.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

As if by magic they have reappeared….

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Oh for gods sake, surely a more likely explanation is that someone has clicked the ‘report comment’ button (there are a lot of unpleasant/silly people in these types of threads), they’re automatically deleted, LC has reviewed and seen that it shouldn’t be deleted? You think they’re sat there going back and forth deleting comments that actually add to the debate?

(2)(3)

literally every student ever lol

WHO THE FUCK IS FLADGATE AND HOW MUCH DO THEY PAY NQ

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Google it, pinhead.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

105 at NQ. Not sure about afterwards.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Chuck my chicky!

I call BS!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

It’s actually around £65k for a Newly Qualified lawyer. Which is a very decent wedge for working comparatively chill hours.

(3)(2)

Friendly ghost

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

(2)(0)

Anonymous

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

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You know that isn’t a sure-fire way of getting a TC? I had sex with 4 partners across the course of my 2 vac schemes and I didn’t get an offer after either.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

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

(0)(0)

Anonymous

BOOBS

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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