I considered crashing my car just to take a week off, says bullied junior lawyer

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Anyone who is ‘a bit different’ can become a target

A junior lawyer who was relentlessly bullied by her boss has revealed how she once considered deliberately crashing her car so she didn’t have to go into the office.

The young solicitor, using the pseudonym ‘Isabelle Fearne’, recalls how she once missed a colleague’s leaving party after her boss purposely gave her a “time-consuming” piece of research late on a Friday afternoon, the Guardian reports. Whilst this doesn’t seem an unusual request for a rookie to receive, Fearne claims that when she later told him the answer, her boss already knew it. “It was a complete waste of my time,” she says.

This, unfortunately, was just one of a number of examples of bullying that Fearne encountered during her time at the unnamed firm. In a further incident, she claims her boss told her to be in the office an hour before everyone else, but then didn’t turn up to let her in.

Describing the move as a “massive power play”, she reveals how things went from bad to worse, at one point even considering crashing her own car to avoid the bullying. The report continues:

“When he [eventually] got there he pulled me into a room, shut the blinds and barracked me [for using the internet too much]. It was absolute nonsense.”

Around that time Fearne considered crashing her car, “just to take a week off”.

Reflecting on her experience, Fearne, who has since moved firms, says that anyone who is “a bit different” can become a target for workplace bullying, including those who are older, overweight, quiet or don’t “ski”.

The shocking account comes just 24 hours after a global survey of nearly 7,000 legal professionals uncovered a shocking degree of bullying and sexual harassment affecting men and women. One in two female respondents and one in three male respondents reported bullying, whilst one in three females and one in fourteen males reported sexual harassment in a work context.

Feeling stressed? You can contact LawCare by calling 0800 279 6888 in the UK.



That’s got high street firm written all over it



That’s so patronising. Bullying occurs at all firms, including elite ones. This is such an important discussion and your comment trivialises an important issue. Immature attitudes like yours are the symptom of the underlying snobbishness that makes it acceptable to bully people who are a bit different.



If it were a city firm, she wouldn’t be locked out. We keep the doors open 24/7 so we can bill, bill, bill!



Hardly. You’re just sitting around until a moderately more senior associate gives you permission to go home.



It’s more that I have to be on call for the email from a partner heading to bed with an urgent piece of work for the morning that could totally have been passed on several days ago when it first hit their inbox.


How do you record your ‘on call’ time?


At HSF they call it alone time…..


“That’s so patronising. Bullying occurs at all firms, including elite ones. This is such an important discussion and your comment trivialises an important issue. Immature attitudes like yours are the symptom of the underlying snobbishness that makes it acceptable to bully people who are a bit different.”

Translation: I’m really anti-bullying and I intend to prove that by bullying someone who dares to disagree with me.



There was no disagreement. It was pointing out a condescending attitude.



Of course its a high street firm. I mean the fact they have to let her in says it all.

I’d rather be a paralegal at a top firm then a trainee at a shitty high st firm.



You’re an arsehole who will neither be a paralegal or a trainee at any firm.



Why, so you can document review?



… and proofread, and draft board minutes.



And play the skin flute.


If there was a real bullying problem then:

1. There would be lots of evidence from HR to back this up
2. There would be lots of Tribunal evidence to back this up
3. Lawcare would get lots of calls (when we know it gets hardly any)

Instead, what we have is certain interested groups trying to pretend there is a bullying problem in order to secure economic and political advantage.

This sort of behavior is highly manipulative and, sadly, like bullying, incredibly difficult to stamp out entirely.



That’s simply not true. I know loads of people, especially women, who’ve experienced bullying and we just have to cover up why we left our jobs because we do actually want to work again!



Yeah, all those thousands of female CEOs and world leaders out there with their ‘economic and political advantage’ rubbing their hands together in glee.

They are out to get you. They plot everything in those single sex bathrooms to personally ensure you will never, ever become Partner. They are possibly planning that harassment accusation against you right now.

Please don’t ever have a daughter…



Validation of the root problem.



The misogynist is the one infantalising women.



People do not complain, this is well evidenced.

You and attitudes like yours are part of tthe problem. ‘interested groups’ you racist and sexist.



Are you being deliberately thick?

As someone has said, this has high street firm written all over it. A lot of high street firms don’t have any HR staff, or if they do then it’s somebody like the boss’s sister.

Secondly, do you really think the function of HR is to record instances of bullying? It isn’t. It’s to cover up bullying and to create a data trail leading to the lawful dismissal of an employee who makes accusations of bullying.



That’s exactly what HR does, even at magic circle law firms that offer MoneyLaw salaries.



Such corporate insanity is very common place. I was told once that I walk too fast, seem stressed out and that is not a look trainees should have. Instead, you should appear calm and internalise your stress, even if you’re under a lot of pressure.

There’s only a finite amount of such bonkers nonsense you can listen to. After a while you just mentally check out and stop caring.



It could be worse: you could be bullied constantly, while also having to wear a gas mask to the gents traps to avoid the ass fumes. Fucks sake what do these people eat


Poo troll

🎼Everybody poos…🎶

Except you, it seems.


DAC Beachcroft

You haven’t experienced anything until you’ve visited the Pensions floor and gone to the gents traps around 10.00am. Holy mother of god



I would say that just about everyone has been badly bullied in a law firm. It’s wrong and simply unacceptable.

How much would you love a twitter-storm “metoo” moment for law, which blows apart magic circle law firms / US partners? We all know who they are? Turfed out on their own at 45?

We need a different culture in law, job security, valuing staff, making sure that fewer bullies get into positions of authority



Agreed, and remembering that bullying is not only limited to one gender.



Brothers! Sisters!

Corporate greed must end!







I work for a firm run by a grossly overweight woman from a working class background. A trail of P45s stand as testament to her prowess at bullying.



You have been Warned.



I still am, actually



HR works for the company to protect it and limit exposure. They are not your friends or on your side.



I worked for a firm (as a trainee solicitor) where the boss would consistently make power plays. He would come in three hours after the start of the working day and expect me to stay behind to assist him despite me being in an hour early. None of the work was time sensitive and could have waited.
I have had a stapler thrown at my head and was told that it was my fault (no idea how) that he had sent an email to the wrong person. I became depressed, woke up in the middle of the night with panic attacks and suffered the worst migraines of my life.
I fully relate to the story and I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to leave. I am now working at a fantastic firm which is wholly supportive.



It’s such a shame that the bully isn’t held accountable for their conduct and you had to leave the firm. So typical.



Thanks. To be honest it wasn’t worth reporting. As mentioned before HR are only there to protect the employer. If it helps it wasn’t just me that suffered. The manager refused to sign someone off as a solicitor until she agreed to work at the firm after qualifying and taking a pay cut! She had to threaten to involve the SRA before they finally agreed. Overall, although it was a horrible experience it has made me more aware of how to treat junior staff.



I’m glad you had such a mature response to a very unpleasant situation. I wish you all the best in your career!



Positive comments on LC seem so jarring. A bit like seeing the Queen have a dump.


Have an absolutely wonderful day!


Adult nappies help.


Biggest stress-reliever ever!





Sounds like your average day at SPB. Some people here got bullied nonstop by swivel-eyed cretins they unfortunately had to call colleagues. A firm where decent people get the shaft and brown nosers thrive, avoid



Have you complained?


SPB Slavedriver

Shut up and get back to work slave!



I’m tired of this sort of pathetic moaning from the spineless. If firm management and hard work are not to your liking find somewhere else to work. “Oh I missed my friend’s leaving drinks, the horror!”



As someone who’s about to enter the profession, I must ask: How does one handle such a situation? Of course I suspect the answer will be “It depends on X, Y and Z” but I’d love some pointers, just in case.




My number one pointer would be not to enter the profession in the first place. It is toxic.



Drink. A lot.



Be robust on day 1.

Don’t be the bitch in your cohort.



If it’s an established bully they usually have a reputation, so being connected with your colleagues helps with intel to avoid working with the bully in the first place. If you nevertheless end up working with the bully, behave with professionalism, take care of yourself, do what you need to do, and once the transaction/case is done, move on. If they do anything that crosses your personal boundaries, assert yourself and make it very clear to the bully that their conduct is unacceptable. If that results in negative repercussions for your career, just move firms – it’s never worth sacrificing your self worth to assuage the entitlement complex of a bully. I echo the previous comments about HR being a waste of time, they’re often bullies themselves.



My advice to all incoming trainees is the same: grab your ankles and think of England!



It is depressing to watch the bullying in the comments of anyone who dares to question whether bullying really is a problem.



Who is the bully of the bullies? Or is the bullied the bullier? What if a bullied person bullies a bully into bullying a bully? Food for thought.



Or we could just, you know, be a bit nicer



Fuck off, prick.



Totally agree about bullying and poor treatment of volunteers at the unit.

After what I saw there, I will never give them a penny.

SB wants the Twitter likes for posing, but never mentions doing any actual pro bono work there.



Bunch of lefties lol



I noticed too that whenever any volunteer mentions poor treatment or the support group that was set up, their comment disappears.

It really looks like they are desperate to stop people freely speaking out about bullying. I’m not comfortable funding them either.


Pro bono

Perhaps that’s because people like me report such comments for removal, as they appear to be anonymous, unverified and superficially unbelievable gossip. I have done some tribunals, and I thought it was a great experience. This isn’t the place for people to make unsubstantiated allegations. Speak to the SRA or BSB if you really have something to say.



Go to the office and ask a staff member how many volunteers have been through mediation with them. Go on, ask if you don’t believe me.

It is a fact and absolute truth that volunteers have gone through mediation with the charity after bullying.

Truth does not fear investigation. Go on and investigate rather than pretending no-one is ever bullied there.


Andrew Purdie

Whilst the legal profession has its fair share of bullies they are present in all businesses and no one should leave the law because of a bully.The bully is nasty to those who they perceive as equal to or lower in the pecking order than they . Meantime they are sycophants to those of higher rank or anyone that they think can further their career .
I have been chairman of a fairly large firm and must say that I have found it easy to spot the bully and deal with them . Good managers will spot a bully a mile off . They just have to have the balls to deal with them which is usually best done having a quiet word in their ear advising that they might want to further their career elsewhere .
I appreciate that it can be difficult to cope with when new to the profession but any firm worth their salt should be approachable and you should take the matter up with your line manager .If management can’t or won’t intervene (maybe because its senior management or partners who are the bullies ) then you should leave the firm as quickly as possible . Why would you want to be part of a firm with such a cancer at its root



Thank you. I agree that moving firms is a good option.

If however you are chasing a TC/pupillage, you are told that no one will look at your application unless you have legal voluntary work.

Volunteers are vulnerable as they feel they have to put up with the abuse to be able to gain advocacy experience and improve their CV.

It is shocking that no one on the paid side of the profession speaks up for them.


I was well aware of this issue before I entered the profession so on the first day of my training contract I knew I had to make an impact. It’s sink or swim isn’t it? Eat or be eaten. So during the introductory session I picked out the dweebiest, weakest-looking inductee and mercilessly ripped him all day. Everytime I made a jibe I’d nudge the biggest looking guy in the room and say ‘am I right?’ and invariably that dunderhead would agree that I was indeed right.


Why won't my comments publish?!

I worked as a paralegal in-house for a bank. The GC told me told me he would give me a training contract but that I would have to really show I wanted it. He pushed back my TC start date twice because I “wasn’t ready” despite him telling me the work I was doing, he didn’t get to do until he was 3PQE.

He said I had to “hold myself to a higher standard than everyone else working there because I was a lawyer”. In a place where the culture was that everyone worked 9-5, he asked me to be the first person there every day and the last person to leave every night, despite him leaving at 5pm every day.

He once bollocked me for leaving at 7pm to go swimming training for an upcoming triathlon. His response was that he had no life in his twenties and my entire life should be work at my age. I was told not to go out with friends in the week as work the next day is more important.

He told me to buy banking textbooks and would set me reading tasks of 100 pages over a weekend which he would give me exams on.

I used to get Sunday night fear every night of the week, fearing what nonsense he would give me the next day.

I eventually had enough of his bullying and called him out. Cue an enormous row and me leaving.

The last I heard he was off work with stress and had been for several months. I think he was a deeply unhappy man who was sad that he wasted a major part of his life at work and felt that because he did it, I should too.

Looking back I actually feel sorry for him. He had probably been bullied himself before becoming a bully.



The bullies I came across were insecure workaholics with no real talent. Because their ambition exceeded their native abilities, they sacrificed their health and relationships for law. Their power trips are the only source of emotional supply so anyone who works for them will be sucked dry and discarded for the next resource. Bullies don’t see you as a person, you’re just a resource to be used and replaced.



Yes. Look up ‘Narcissistic Supply’ and it’s easy to understand how it always comes down to the bully’s own inadequacies.

I think bullying is prevalent in the voluntary sector too because there’s always a ready supply of empathetic people to target. They are told to volunteer to boost their CV. Thus, the culture never changes because there’s always new people to target.

Easy to cover up too because people assume that lawyers or charity volunteers must necessarily be morally ‘upright’.



Yes, that was best part of the day.



No, he was really ugly and a total gimp.



Did they have you play the skin flute?



No, we played hoop la.



Is coke common in the legal profession? 20 marks- give reasoning to support your answer



Pics or it didn’t happen.



When I did pupillage at a northern superset I was told that I should be seen to be the first into Chambers in the morning and the last to leave at night, assuming I wasn’t in some far-flung court.

Given some senior practitioners were night-owls this made for some very late leaving times.

I was also set very long and numerous pieces of legal research, often at short notice with a “next morning” deadline that required work into the early hours.

I was also told to knock on the doors of other members of Chambers and say I was available to assist them. Some were only too happy to dump large and time consuming tasks on me.

Thing is, this wasn’t bullying. It was, for the most part, preparation for what life would be like as a tenant in Chambers to see if I could hack it.



Northern superset: contradiction in terms.



Did you exchange your Chambers for another one?



Another day, another bunch of moans by snowflakes.



Yeah those snowflakes get so angry about all those foreigners, Brexit and how the world had ’gawn maaaaad’


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