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‘Untrainable’ solicitor slated by employment tribunal over training contract behaviour

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Career changer ‘clearly unable to accept he was a trainee’

Is it worth winning a couple of grand in the employment tribunal if your reputation takes a battering in the process?

That’s the question solicitor Richard Attoe could be asking himself this week after an employment judge described him as “aggressive”, “disingenuous,” and “defensive” in a scathing published judgment — even though Attoe won some parts of his claim.

Attoe, a former journalist in his 40s, sued the firm at which he had been a trainee solicitor after the training contract went up in flames in less than a year, with his former supervisors describing him as “untrainable”.

The dispute went down at tiny provincial outfit KJL Solicitors, based in the Norfolk village of Blofield. Only two qualified solicitors work at the firm, with Attoe taken on as the sole trainee in March 2017.

But things almost immediately turned sour, with Attoe’s colleague complaining that she was “having trouble with training him as when I do try and explain anything he seems very reluctant to listen to me and sometimes seems to get frustrated if I pick up something that I am not happy with”.

Just weeks into his training contract, Attoe was raising concerns about the quality of his training and had begun sending out correspondence without it being checked by his supervisors. Employment judge Postle commented that “the claimant seemed to think that within a matter of days into his training that he should be dealing with conveyancing files from start to finish”.

By the end of April — still less than two months in — Attoe was complaining that having all his emails reviewed was “seriously impeding any degree of efficiency”. By that summer, according to the judgment, he had “had enough of conveyancing” and “simply would not listen or accept supervision”.

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In July, Attoe’s original supervisor gave up, saying that she was “no longer prepared to train the claimant as when she tried to engage him in joint meetings or for file reviews, the claimant would assert he was always too busy”.

When the other solicitor in the office took over, Attoe’s relationship with her became “tense” in turn. Judge Postle concluded that “it seems to be the case that the claimant cannot accept constructive feedback or supervision” at all.

After several unpleasant incidents, including a row about underbilling a client in which Attoe became “somewhat aggressive and confrontational”, the firm had begun to conclude that he was “untrainable”. Attoe sued following his eventual acrimonious departure from KJL, alleging that his complaints amounted to whistleblowing. He also claimed for various other breaches of employment law, including unpaid wages and breach of contract.

Giving judgment, employment judge Postle noted that the firm “were concerned that the claimant had become difficult to train, almost impossible and did not take criticism of his work as a trainee well. He would be defensive and confrontational without cause or reason”. Nor did he think much of Attoe as a witness, describing him as “evasive”, “disingenuous”, “obstructive” and “confrontational”.

While it was “patently clear” that the situation didn’t amount to whistleblowing in the legal sense, Attoe did win £120 in unpaid expenses, £550 in unlawfully deducted wages and one month’s pay for breach of contract. He also successfully qualified as a solicitor at another local firm in April 2019.

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23 Comments

Anonymous

Absolute bantah demon, 10/10 lad pointz

Anonymous

Mayer Brown upped NQ rates to £90k

Anonymous

prove it.

Anonymous

CMS UP TO 120k!

KonanK

I thought it improved his reputation. Imagine having all your emails reviewed.

Bad show for his ex firm

Anonymouse

Hardly. If he screws up (which, as a trainee, is a bit likely) then it’s on the firm to sort it. And he was only two months in!

Anonymous

At least he tried. He dipped Attoe in the water and now knows he’s not up to being a lawyer.

Donna from Archives

He did appear to Attoe-ne for his mistakes though, and is now a fully qualified solicitor.

Anonymous

Here’s hoping his career doesn’t plAttoe

Anon

He can celebrate his entry to the roll with a nice chocolate gAttoe

Anonymous

Any chance of seeing the judgment please lc ?

Anonymous

Linked in the piece

Anonymous

So this moron is now a solicitor…? Wow, SRA. Just wow.

Macfarlanes Future Trainee

Sounds like an alpha male, just like me. That’s how I’ll be when I do my TC. I don’t care who you are you’ll show me respect or I’ll call you out.

Anonymous

Yeah, good luck with that. Even in the most “bro” of the US firms, your colleagues would think you’re a prick if you take that approach. In a conservative firm like Macfarlanes you’ll crash and burn.

Annonympus

Yes there arwsolicitors out there that think they are so big . how he passed as a solicitor is something. And I would never want to have him as mysolicitor. There shody solicitors out there and are only out for your money and don’t do care about the client. I know I have had losing cheating solicitors.

Anonymous

Based and untainable pilled

Anonymous

Last two paras of the judgment:

85. Set that against the claimant who under cross examination was evasive, who had to be frequently warned to answer a simple and straightforward question put to him. He was disingenuous, particularly in the events leading up to the transfer of his training contract. He was clearly an obstructive and confrontational individual who appeared to have his own agenda in seeking compensation from the respondent.

86. It is clear that the claimant throughout his training with the respondentsdisliked being supervised and was over-defensive when mistakes were brought to his attention, he was confrontational. The claimant’s training could not have been as lacking as he maintained, ashemust have satisfied the Solicitors’Regulatory Authority as he ultimately qualified as a solicitor on 1 April only one month later than originally expected. Furthermore,if the claimant’s training had been sopoor thenon transfer to Madison andMorgan, either they or he would have suggested repeating part of his training in order to satisfy the necessary solicitors regulation requirements, and thatclearlydid not happen.

Does not sounds especially honest, tbh.

Disingenuous?!

“Disingenuous”? That’s Tribunal for “we thought he was a filthy liar” – it’s a pretty poor showing in terms of his duty to the court…

Kaplan

Top lad

Anonymous

1. Conveyancing isn’t real lawyer work.

2. This guy is gonna peak his “legal” career in the regions at ~£50-60k p/a but realistically wind up a professional negligence defence case well before then. The only people that should care about this lad are the underwriters.

Anonymous

Why do judges and regulators always say that claimants are evasive?

Archibald Pomp O'City

“when I do try and explain anything he seems very reluctant to listen to me”

His colleague’s grammar must have been s legitimate source of frustration.

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