Freshfields lawyers aghast after senior partner refers to ‘Blacks’ in firm-wide email

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Boss Edward Braham apologises and says he is ‘committed to learning from this’

The senior partner of Freshfields is facing a backlash after referring to ‘Blacks’ in a firm-wide email that attempted to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The controversial email came in response to the death of African-American George Floyd in US police custody, which has sparked protests across the globe and has seen corporate entities reaffirm their commitment to championing diversity and challenging racism.

In message sent across the magic circle firm, the Freshfields boss Edward Braham wrote:

“I have been shocked by the killing of George Floyd as well as the other recent killings in the US. I am not alone in being moved by the events that have followed and the solidarity shown by people around the world.”

“The last few days have been a stark reminder for all of us of the racism in our society and of the personal risks that so many Blacks face and continue to face. These events are made even more tragic be the higher percentage of Blacks falling ill or dying due to COVID-19”.

“This is a time for speaking up for our Black colleagues … In particular we need to increase our numbers of Black team members and put in the types of systems that will nurture these talented people to rise to more senior positions.”

As well as being uncomfortable with the use of the term “Blacks” to describe black people, Legal Cheek understands that staff took issue with Braham’s use of non-inclusive language that seems to unintentionally place black people into a separate category to white people.

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As first reported by RollOnFriday, it has emerged that a group of black lawyers in Freshfields’ US office looked over and redrafted Braham’s email before it was sent. In an email reportedly accidentally copied to the entire firm, New York-based partner Timothy Wilkins wrote:

“I take full responsibility for this and appreciate that language hits differently across jurisdictions and have an idea of how to diffuse tensions on our BAN call coming up”.

Wilkins reportedly sent another email across the firm addressing Braham’s reference to ‘Blacks’. He said:

“I appreciate that the term Black or Blacks hits out of tune in certain jurisdictions. And, I must admit I must just be an old school radical where the James Brown refrain of ‘I’m Black and I’m Proud’ — is just how I speak — especially at a time when people are marching in the streets to protest violence against the Black community”.

“So, thank you around the network for helping me understand better that adding ‘people’ and ‘colleagues’ after the term helps to humanize our experience to others in an important way,” he added.

Responding to the fallout, Braham said:

“My email was sent to express my deep concern for the situation in the US and I am very sorry for any offence that I caused. I am grateful that people have given me feedback and am committed to learning from this, as we continue to increase our commitment to diversity and inclusion across the firm.”

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incoming non-black people’s outrage over black people’s outrage over what they have a right to be upset about and further policing what is and is not offensive x



All lives matter, and at a time of pandemic proxy outrage over a US socio-economic issue a disgrace. The fact the police let the Hyde Park thousands gather at this time was appalling. And I am tired of black campaigners telling me what to think thank you very much. The police should do their job and stop this over indulgent silliness in its tracks.



Sure all lives matter, but right now lots of people (especially in positions of power) think that black lives don’t; hence the slogan.

Happy to discuss if you’re still unable to grasp the concept. x



Happy to discuss. When covid is gone. These nonsense marches are going to kill people, a lot more people than armed robbers that die of heart attacks from the consequences of resisting arrest.


Anonymous publicly funded barrister

George Floyd was not an armed robber.


4:36, yes he was. He was convicted of entering a woman’s home, pointing a gun at her stomach and searching the home for drugs and money and sentenced to 5 years. Which bit of that is not armed robbery? If the truth does not suit you, do you just cancel it? That is what fascists do.

Stop These Criminal Protests

7.10 if the truth does not suit the narrative of victimhood and racial prejudice these moaners “cancel it” and try to silence debate by calling those that disagree with them racists. Fascism at its best.


So you purposely wrote all lives matter to counter the black lives matter movement, right? This shows your failure to understand what the latter is about so any conclusion you come to may as well be void.

You think what’s happening in America is a socio-economic issue and not a race issue. OK, given the facts this shows your inability to observe long trends, research, analyse and come to a reasonable judgement.

Granted it’s not the best time to protest but is this really what you’re genuinely annoyed about? Because it seems that with the above and your lack of liking for black campaigners telling you what to think, you’re lying and using the pandemic as a tool to mask your bitterness over black people finally standing up for their human rights. This makes you … brace yourself for this … a racist.

Over indulgent? I think you lack empathy.

In conclusion, law is not the profession for you.

Btw I dare you to publicly write that comment on your linkedin.



I’d be careful with what I write online and not get too brave. Wouldn’t want to get exposed and have your career in tatters. But I hope it happens to you.



So you are happy to kill old people as a result of these illegal protests in London and elsewhere? If you don’t like “All lives matter”, which you don’t, a more accurate slogan right now would be “Black Lives Matter More Than The Old and Ill Our Actions Are Killing”?


Say It

Exactly! These SJWs swarming in their thousands in parks are the same ones who are moaning about BAME covid death rates. I suspect the more accurate slogan would be “Black Lives Matter More Than Bangladeshi Ones”.


I wonder why legal cheek is still allowing you to post considering the abhorrent comment you made yesterday?

For those that didn’t see, this anonymous referred to George Floyd as a ‘convicted felon who died of a heart attack after resisting arrest’ (I have a screenshot).

I apologise to those that will get hurt from reading this comment and add to the mentally draining time we’ve experienced these past few weeks. But this is just a stark reminder that these are the people that are in the profession and could easily be our colleagues in the office hiding behind Anonymous online to hide their real feelings, like some loser. Wishing everyone peace and love, except to the racists whose careers I hope come crashing down.

SJW xxx

Woah, SJW. Why censor truth in these times? Because it does not fit your narrative? In 2009 Floyd was convicted of entering a woman’s home, pointing a gun at her stomach and searching the home for drugs and money and sentenced to 5 years. Floyd resisted being handcuffed which led to his being subject to restraining methods specifically taught to the officers, perhaps shocking to us but understandable in a nation where so many carry firearms and use them. The post mortem considered his cause of death as cardiac arrest with potential intoxicants as a contributing factor. We need perspective, and the sort of silencing of discussion you advocate and the sinister threats underpinning it are abhorrent. Racism is wrong, it is evil, but silencing facts is the route of fascism and that is abhorrent too.

I apologise to those that will get hurt from reading your comment and add to the mentally draining time we’ve experienced these past few weeks. But this is just a stark reminder that these are the people that are in the profession and could easily be our colleagues in the office hiding behind anonymity online to hide their real feelings, like some loser. Wishing everyone peace and love, except to the fascists whose careers I hope come crashing down.

Many died for freedom to state truths in the face of bullying. You insult their memory.


And his previous case is relevant to this murder why? How exactly will that help the defence’s case in this instance? Please do tell.

I don’t think you actually know what you’re talking about doofus. The new autopsy says he died from the force of two other officers on his back and asphyxia from the pressure on his neck.

Didn’t want to resort to insults but you are truly so so dumb. There is clear video evidence and witnesses that say he did not resist. What a pathetic loser you are.


The comments about Floyd’s previous convictions are ignorant. Past crime doesn’t mean he deserves to die for allegedly using (accidentally or intentionally) a fake banknote. He reformed significantly (see posts from his gf and family in US press).

In the UK (according to PACE), police are not permitted to use previous convictions as a ground for stop and search. I’m intrigued as to why some think his priors justify his death…


lmaooo we see you’re spamming the likes/dislikes you know. what a sad person you are



The sad thing is it lags to like and dislike a comment so they must literally be sitting there for hours in the day just clicking a screen loool they have no life



Looool exactly but maybe I’m a sad one too because I saw how that comment’s likes were increasing so fast so I refreshed every time there was an increase and well… there’d be an increase again.

Thought ok coincidence. But nope, same pattern but in dislikes started appearing for the two comments that disagreed with ALM whilst the likes for that comment stopped. Meanwhile, no other comment below showed any changes.

Interesting how you can make such bold comments and then get triggered by just two counterarguments.

Who’s the triggered one?

You just know that they aren’t exactly sleeping with supermodels if they are sitting there hitting the ‘dislike’ button repeatedly.

I always wonder if their gf left them for a Black guy?


I wrote the post at 7.12 and don’t care whether it gets likes or not. What I do care about is that innocent people don’t die from COVID because of ill timed bandwagoning. The protests in UK were extraordinarily selfish.

@ anonymous

No one cares mate lmao you’re taking this thing way too seriously, you’re probably the one who spammed the likes and dislikes too you simp hahahaha


They’re that stupid they’re even spamming the wrong comments – they spam liked the first comment thinking it’s a dig at black people when it’s literally supporting them hahaha



Did you look at London parks and other spaces during ‘lockdown’? Clapham Common? Reduced tube capacity leading to sardine-like situations? No social distancing in many supermarkets and streets? Ridiculous VE day celebrations across the country? Packed beaches in Essex and other coastal areas? You are outraged by protests instead of all of these events happening during the suppposed peak of the pandemic…



Yes, the massed gathering in London today was patently illegal and will cause many deaths, particularly among the BAME community.



You are comparing that to the thousands packing Westiminster and those mindless thugs attacking our police? Really, get a grip. It would be an insult to the dead of covid and our NHS to let these miscreants “protest” again.



‘You are comparing that’. Yes. THOUSANDS flocked to the beaches during lockdown and continued to do so in the last week or so. Cheltenham went ahead despite every other major event scheduled cancelling as soon as the threat of COVID-19 became clear. Herd immunity? Remember that line of thought? Selective outrage, get a grip Anon.


So thousands spread out over a large area and over a long period to thousands packed into a small area at the same time. Yes, these are them same, I get it now. How racist of me to think comparative infection risks were a relevant consideration.


Look at the pictures of Cheltenham and the beaches ‘at the same time’. No one called you racist?


Cheltenham was before the lock down, doufus. The beaches have a far lower density of participant by area than the protests and that is what is critical. The white middle men who gathered to protest the lock down were arrested in minutes, these far greater threats to public health were left to grow and proliferate. Appalling. Call me racist again, idiot. It just undermines your cause.

Archibald Pomp O'City

What is your name? Stinking coward.



Nice steal from ROF, LC.



The issue isn’t just with what the Senior Partner said… what the partner said is just a small speck of a much bigger problem at Freshfields. I have attended a Freshfields presentation evening, open day, networked with the firm at the law fair and attended other Freshfields events and it’s not a coincidence that at every single one of those events, the representatives of the firm were very very very white private educated middle class individuals. There is definitely a Freshfields ‘type’ and this is coming from a white person myself (although I was state educated and not from that kind of background). 

[Paragraph removed by Legal Cheek]


Truth Serum

Why did you copy my comment Jack??!



It was my comment, arsewipe



These are very serious allegations and I would strongly advise you to remove them.


Get out of here you oppressor

Shut up


Or else what? Freshfields will send in their personal SWAT team?



Freshfields is the whitest firm going and this is coming from a white person. Just when you think they can’t get any whiter



I know of an associate who regularly got into trouble at his private school for badly bullying the Asian kids, but was always forgiven owing to his sporting successes.

When he was initially refused an Oxbridge place, the school phoned the college and got them to reconsider, again owing to the sporting success. Whilst there, he then went on to physically assault (you guessed it) an Asian, but once again the university needed him around for the sporting bragging rights.

I’m not surprised at all by the repeated, independent statements made over many years of people describing toxic working environment in the law with frequent racism.

I am inclined to believe they are true, because in no way whatsoever are there thousands of lawyers out there describing how the professional is the best thing to ever happen to their mental health and how they can’t wait to get back to the office. Whilst surrounded by the real ethnic diversity you have in a big city.


Name and Shame

Name and shame him!


All Lives Matter

Dominic Cummings.



Didn’t know your network can phone Oxbridge up to reconsider once rejected formally. When they say white privilege exists, this is what people mean.



White council estate boys obviously can access this “network” when black kids can’t … You see it is a class issue not a race issue, stop confusing the two.



It’s also an intelligence issue. Wealth and intelligence are genetically linked. So privately educated people will do better. That’s why they dominate the top jobs. Life isn’t fair. Get over it.

Laughing So Hard I Was Sick

‘Wealth and intelligence are genetically linked’

LMAO from every single private tutor in London making ££££££££ in an industry worth millions because thick kids with wealthy parents are their cash cow.

I know people who are paid to listen to 13 year old private school kids read, because it’s literally the only way their parents can make sure these kids open a book and stay off Counter Strike.

Guess that mysterious ‘intelligence’ gene also jumps out of someone’s DNA the moment the stock market crashes too?

Good grief, if you were privately educated, I hope your parents at least thanked your Biology tutor profusely for trying.


1.54, the science on this is very clear and the effect of genes in IQ is shown to be greater and greater and our understanding of polygenetic processes increases. Still, the overlayering of genetic impact on standard distribution would seem well beyond you since it would answer the utter fallacy at the heart of your comment. We may not like what the science is saying, but it is there and it is clear.


He was applying for a subject whereby almost half the applicants get places at Oxbridge and most will come from independent schools because of the particular combination of A Levels needed to apply.

I can believe it because they were not exactly turning down 10 other students to admit him and his sporting success was at national level.

For subjects like Law, Medicine or SPS/PPE, the competition for places is much more intense and I don’t think any school could plead an applicant’s case if they were turned down for a place.



Find it difficult to believe the school could have had the college reconsider his app on the basis of sporting achievement…


BAME Associate

You’ve got no clue, son, and are clearly a current or recently graduated student with no idea about what it’s like to work in a City law firm.

It’s also incredibly insulting for you to reduce BAME associates and partners to simple ‘diversity’ hires. Here’s some news for you: we exist, we’re working just as hard, are just as smart and are just as deserving of successful careers.


comprehension is a missing facet in todays society


He didn’t say every BAME trainee and associate is a diversity hire, but its naive to ignore the fact that many are treated as if they don’t belong there by other white colleagues in their cohort and by elitist superiors, despite the fact that worked more than twice as hard to get the same opportunities and positions.



Chegal Leek getting rid of the following paragraphs because it exposed the truth about Freshies is very telling


Too much time on your hands

Imagine someone was that triggered they sat there and spammed the like button 70 times. Get a life m8



You mean they spammed the dislike button right? I saw it shoot up from 10 dislikes to 70 in over 5 mins all at the same time. What a loser


Hope those dislikes make your heart happy bro

Loooool they just spammed it up to 80



Of course, it has to be spamming. Heaven forbid that someone might actually be disagreeing with your woke bullshit views.


Uncle Ben

Actually the other way around. People liked all the ‘woke’ comments no one spammed them cus you could see they went up gradually throughout the day but some r&cists behind a screen, probably you actually, spammed the DISLIKE button at night when everyone was asleep. Get a life


Quite. These “liberals” cannot stand it when people disagree with them. And it is clear from the voting that most people reading this article and the commentary do disagree.

What a sad little life Jane

They’re disliking all the comments which are in favour of black candidates. The same thing happened in the article about the hijabi woman who became a judge – someone sat there and disliked a comment over 1000 times just because it was praising her. There are some seriously messed up people behind these screens who spam dislike all the comments that are against their questionable views. I pity them that they have nothing else going in their life that it brings them joy to spend their time clicking a button on a screen for hours of their day. But then again, whoever is behind it is probably so f ed up in the head and is unhappy with their own life that it is the only thing they have control over in their sad little world



It’s so true, I’ve just noticed all the spamming of the likes. Even so, everyone knows which comments are talking sense and which ones aren’t. The likes/dislikes don’t prove anything



Exactly haha, they’re just wasting their time. Everyone, well at least most people who aren’t elitist whyte cultists know which comments are blatantly coming from R@cist people and which ones aren’t – the likes and dislikes don’t prove anything


As you well know, the voting means everything, as it determines who has won the debate. At the moment, the “liberal” fascists, peddling their BLM nonsense, are clearly losing.


I believe Harry defines “racism” as pretty much everything that does not agree with him. And it is OK to cancel “racists”, that is not fascism in the slightest when it is for the right cause, no not at all.


I would like this 100000x times if I could but I’m not a simp who sits behind a screen tapping a button for my own personal joy hahaha


Anonymous Mous

It’s so funny that they are never brave enough to put their names and firms to their “All Lives Matter” ravings.

I think they’d cry if they tried saying that to a Black colleague’s face.


Kyle Skywalker

Mr Mous, your pathetic efforts at emasculatory language show your lack of class. You’d never say that to my face, buddy.

Sir Simpness of Simpshire

Piss of Kyle you simp


They’ve spammed it wayyy more than 70 they’ve literally spammed every single comment what a saddo looool


Oh dear

Ed, how many BIPOC people do you have working at the firm?

Not as security staff or cleaners, but as associates and partners?

Don’t type an email because everyone else has – ask the uncomfortable questions and actually do something.



In a UK context what the hell does the “I” in BIPOC stand for? The Cornish? Be off with your crass Americanism.



I know one Black trainee a few years ago who was plastered all over one firm’s recruitment materials and speaking events, and then was promptly refused an associate position.


Name and Shame

Say the firm name or don’t say it in the first place



I know many, many more Black applicants with decent RG 2.1s, fluency in multiple languages, paralegal work and no invitations to TC interviews.

Racism at firms is real and yes, it should make you feel ashamed.



Name names or didn’t happen


Name and Shame

Lol I’m literally agreeing with everything you said. All I’m saying is expose the firm, it’s about time. I’m on your side bro, work on your comprehension skills.


MC Big boi

LOL, this doesnt mean the firm is racist you fool…firms like FF regularly get 10+ applicants for each place…



Tbh, a 2.1 at any university is not going to be that good anymore and will not be a sole reason why a firm will offer you a TC interview, especially as 70% of the students obtain a 2.1 anyway.

Whether you are BAME or not, if you don’t have anything else on your CV and you only have that 2.1, you are just going to be the same as 70% of all other candidates.



Firms need to be more open about the retention figures. Nobody seems to talk about those BAME candidates who aren’t offered an NQ position at the firm for no legitimate reason other than the fact they are black or Asian. Getting a TC isn’t the final destination, the traumatic experience for BAME candidates comes afterwards when they realise how difficult it is for them to fit into predominantly white corporate spaces



This happens with pupillage too – so many BAME pupils don’t get tenancy for no other reason than there’s only one or two BAME in the whole set.


All Lives Matter

Yes, that is the sole reason. Of course it is.



Racism is an open, uncomfortable secret at law firms. I’ve addressed it with HR on a couple of occasions and the first reaction is always disbelief – ‘well, I’m sure that’s not what they meant/they’re not racist/meant it as banter’.

Unless someone has straight out called you a by a racist slur, it’s initially always fobbed off. And you’re dismissed as being ‘sensitive’.

It’s only when you press it, question it and pull their defence apart that they start to take it seriously. And I cannot tell you how emotionally draining that is. You’re scared to press it because you worked hard to get to that position. And being BAME, the reality is that you had to work much harder than most to be one of the lucky few who get ‘selected’. You’re scared to press it because you don’t want to risk your job, damage your relationships, stress yourself out, ruin your hard work, be perceived as ‘playing the race card’.

How many times have you been asked at interview what your stance is on diversity and inclusion? Think about it. Probably never or very rarely. Surely, this is something an organisation would want to know about the people they hire in this globalised world with political leaders like Trump in power. But they rarely if ever ask this question, and then they act surprised when their figures of BAME representation at the top are low, and their BAME associates leave due to racism or, if you prefer the more palatable term, ‘unconscious bias’. If you want to address racism, diversity and inclusion in your organisation, surprise surprise, you actually have to ASK people within that organisation what their views are on it – black, white, asian, everyone, and weed the bad ones out.

The reality is that even when you’ve been born and raised in the Uk, got the grades, socialise with everyone down the pub as is expected, keep your head down, do your work – those pay rises and those opportunities sometimes just don’t come your way because of the colour of your skin. That is the truth.

We really need to stop pretending that everything is hunky dory because we have a 30 min online training module at the beginning of our tenure at a firm that says ‘racism is bad’.


Damn Right




FYI Diversity stats are listed on the LC firm profiles: e.g. Freshfields has 16% BME associates, Travers 10% etc.



You can still experience racism in an office with other BAME people too you know


Archibald Pomp O'City

Facepalm indeed, facepalm. The point of your non sequitur…?


One thing which those figures don’t break down is the fact that a lot of these firms are covering up the real BAME statistics.

I’ve done several vac schemes and at every single one I’ve come across the So called BAME trainees and associates they speak of and I can tell you for a fact they are Oxbridge privately educated middle class BAME individuals. They aren’t a true representation of BAME



The worst feeling ever is being excited when you see a trainee or associate or partner who is from your ethnicity but then you talk to them and realise they don’t speak like you, they come from a different background and are raised very differently from you and they have very different political and social beliefs as you. They are basically just the same as those white candidates


Why are they not a true representation of BAME? Are individuals who happen to have more affluent parents not also at risk of the same outright racism that working class or state educated BAME individuals experience? What about those that get into Oxbridge through hard work? Or those that attend private schools on bursaries or scholarships or because their parents have worked their asses off to send them there?

The whole point of the racist structure is that no matter how much money you earn, how you speak, how you dress etc, you feel like you’ll never be truly accepted because it’s based on the colour of your skin. It’s the reason affluent students from Africa, Asia etc. are still subject to racism regardless of the other facets of their background.

Yes, those of us from poorer BAME communities obviously suffer more and that’s where the structural racism point comes into play more but it’s absurd to carve out a load of BAME people just because they’re middle class, international or privately educated.

Get a grip

^Shut up anon

Anon is an idiot

^’They aren’t a true representation of BAME’.^
What an absolutely MORONIC COMMENT. Statements like this do a real disservice to the BAME community and just make it seems as though you are salty about each others success.

BY DEFINITION ‘BAME’ REFERS TO ETHINICITY. YOUR ETHNIC MAKEUP, primarily reflected by YOUR SKIN COLOURR. Just because one of the brothers and sisters studied hard, got into Oxbridge, changed their social group, and started speaking better, doesn’t mean they are no longer BAME, or can’t represent the community. What an absolute joke of a comment.

not here for white fragility

@anon is an idiot what do you mean by BAME people “started speaking better” lmaooo what in the possibly internalised and coded racism is that comment?

Archibald Pomp O'City

That’s a big assumption on your part fella.


They are not “true BAME”. Bless, a patent variant on the “appeal to purity” fallacy, known commonly among academic circles as the “no true Scotsman fallacy” from Anthony Flew’s writings and examples such as:

Person A: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person B: “But my uncle Angus is a Scotsman and he puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person A: “But no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”

That is exactly what Aaron and Oge were doing. “So called BAME trainees and associates they speak of and I can tell you for a fact they are Oxbridge privately educated middle class BAME individuals. They aren’t a true representation of BAME”.

You know what guys, all those posh privately educated Oxbridge white lawyers are not a “true representation” of the white community either….


How many are genuinely BME? Are they B or do they fit into ME? A wealthly privately-educated Singaporean will have a significantly different background to a council estate-born Londoner



This is what I was trying to say, you articulated it better.


To be honest, as someone who was born in London and moved to Singapore, Singapore’s “private schools” are not necessarily the same as private schools in the UK because they are very inexpensive (you are looking at £500/year for some private schools), so almost anyone can afford to attend there.


Shut up Lucy. People don’t even know when to recognise their own privilege


To be honest, in Singapore, there is not really a private school or public school segregation because the school fees are somewhat the same.

If we are talking about privilege, Singapore’s education system as a whole is just very tough, so I guess there is ‘privilege’ in that sense. Most Singaporeans end up getting 5A*/6A* at A-levels because of how competitive the education system is.

A Singaporean girl I knew had parents who were taxi drivers and yet, she got 5A* at A-levels because it is considered to be the ‘norm’ in many Singaporean schools. There is no socio-economic privilege there as much as you would like to convince yourself otherwise.

The system is just constructed in a way where everyone is expected to work very hard.


Lol, that’s so true! I went to an international school in Singapore, and found out (the hard way) that 3 A’s at A-levels was considered a bad mark in many Singaporean schools, and people look down on you if you fail to get 5 A’s.

That’s why I’m glad I left lol


Lol, that’s so true! I went to an international school in Singapore, and found out (the hard way) that 3 A’s at A-levels was considered a bad mark in many Singaporean schools, and people look down on you if you fail to get 5 A’s.

That’s why I’m glad I left lol


Loooool look at Lucy pretending to have interactions and people agreeing with her comment which she clearly just wrote herself in response.

What a sad little life bro


This is true for a lot of city law. People from disadvantaged backgrounds (not just ethnically diverse but also from lower socioeconomic groups) often think ‘yesss I got a tc!!!!’, and good for them.
But, once the firm have them on board as a ‘diverse’ statistic I have often heard the likelihood of them actually being kept on as an NQ seems very unlikely. Gossip in the corridors means ‘those ones’ get weeded out. They only want those likely to be possible partner material. Those will slangy accents or those that dont quite ‘fit’ the code, fair less well. I know people who have gone through this very experience.



It only makes sense for firms to hire “partner material people” – firms are a business and not a charity.

However, I do not see why people from lower socioeconomic groups / with foreign background (non British accent, no connections in the country etc.) are necessarily “not a partner material.” Yes, other trainees may have a slight advantage over you because of their background and accents but this can be overcome by hard work and good work attitude (I myself was an international student, struggled at first but overcame this).

Just show to the partners that you are bringing more value and they will take you on board. Firms’ clients are increasingly international and do not really care what about your accent. The partners are interested in having hard working employees who finish their work on time, not their accent or backstory.


It is what it is

They’re not saying that these people don’t possess the traits to become a partner, but in the UK class is a massive thing and how you speak/ how you sound definitely is a hugely important factor.

And I mean using slang or having a less ‘polished’ accent (I.e south/East London) in particular. Internationally toned accents I believe are still preferred over those who could accidentally slip into the slabs British use of ‘fam’ or ‘bruv’.



This comment misunderstands racism and classism in Britain. The two are inextricably linked.



Again coming from international background and working in a City firm – never encountered chauvinism / classism from the British people or colleagues. Probably once in a pub from an Eastern European person but even that person was just really drunk and soon come back to apologise.

UK so far is an extremely welcoming country. The attitude to foreigners here is way better than in most of the EU countries (not speaking about the countries like Russia / USA / Brazil).


But here goes the problem because assumptions get baked into what they deem or assume can be partner material. Firstly being a partner isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You are still a service provider and at the whim and bidding of clients which have tremendous pricing power particularly in this slump of economic demand. Clients are also increasingly diverse from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The problem though is the assumption that certain people have a look for what is considered partnership material and if they are a BAME person that does not totally assimilate in your presentation you are not partnership material, even though you are high on other criteria. Yet we see many white partners with wacky hair dos and dressing styles but it is acceptable for them. The Prime Minister, most powerful man in the country can get away with how he presents himself and be taken seriously because he is white.

The focus of ‘partnership material’ should be on the work you produce and your hustle and creativity to get business in. But for BAME people there can be a stereotype attached in terms of how you look when it comes to determining partnership material.



People are going to say the obvious expected excuse for this which is “wHaTz WroNg WiTh SaYinG ‘bLacKs’” and before any of you do… ask yourself… have you every been referred to as the ‘whites’?



Yes. Unfortunately, in recent years, I have been told my opinion somehow has less meaning because it is tainted by my ‘white privilege.’

It doesn’t offend me it just makes me fearful that this generation has discarded 300 years of western liberal enlightenment thinking and cloaked themselves with a quasi fascist post truth ideology without even knowing it.



“If you do not agree with me your view is void because I deem you a racist.” That’s the mind set. Part idiocy, part fascism.



Then why aren’t you big and brave enough to put your name and firm to your beliefs that only ‘idiocy’ uses the word ‘racism’?

Yes – people do in fact deserve to lose their jobs for their horrible views. You think the clients and the multinational firms they own are White/English/Middle Class too?


Maccies LLP

This is almost as bad as M@cfarlanes LLP inviting David Lammy and other influential black members of the community to speak at the firm and host BAME presentations and talks, host a diversity evening, get their black trainee to be the firms cover boy…..

And then they didn’t hire a single black trainee last year. And only hired 2 ethnic minorities.



To be fair qualification results of 30 people intake in just one year are not statistically representative and do not show any trends or conscious / unconscious biases. The team that those trainees wanted to qualify in could be quiet that time of the year (early 2019 was very bad for many City firms because of the Brexit fears, many deals were on hold pending March 2019 deadline) and not hiring etc.

Would be a totally different (and deplorable) case if this remained unchanged throughout several years (a pool of 100 trainees throughout 3 years would be much more representative).


U failed GCSE English language m8

You’ve completely missed the point.

Macs didn’t offer TCs to any black candidates And there’s only 2 ethnic minorities out of those 30 altogether who were offered TCs. Go have a look at their Instagram and twitter post with their new In-Take.

We’re not talking about the fact that they were trainees who didn’t get offered an NQ position for choosing a quiet department – that’s an excuse to talk around the issue. Let’s discuss this directly. Macs don’t equally distribute TC offers to BAME candidates



Probably you misunderstand the UK legal market. Trainees are hired to become associates, students are hired to become trainees. When you wrote “didn’t hire a single trainee”, you were clearly speaking about the firm’s retention rate, not its TC recruitment.



lol read the following sentence from Chambers:

‘Macfarlanes […] only recruits around 30 trainees each year.’

Do you read that as recruiting 30 associates? No harm in admitting a small fault you know. Taking accountability is a key skill after all.

Also, discrepancies between how a phrase is understood has nothing to do with the legal market. Maybe you failed to understand what the legal market actually is.


3% of the UK is black. 3% of the 30 TC offer holders is 0.9. Rounding that up, you’d expect 1 of the TC offer holders to be black.

8% of the UK is Asian/Asian British. 8% of the 30 TC offer holders is 2.4. Rounding that down, you’d expect 2 of the TC offer holders to be Asian/Asian British.

86% of the UK is white. 86% of the 30 TC offer holders is 25.8. Rounding that up, you’d expect 26 of the TC offer holders to be white.

Based on your figures, the actual trainee cohort makeup was: 28 white, 2 ethnic minority. Based on the figures above, I don’t think a reasonable person would conclude that it is grossly misrepresentative of the UK’s demography, although it is true that the cohort would be more representative if 1 of the white TC offer holders was black.

I’d be interested to know what % of TC offer holders was privately educated, as compared with the % of the UK population that is privately educated (7%). I’d hazard a guess that it is many multiples of 7%.


Dither and Delay

But compare to London stats where City firms are based. 40% are BAME in London. Most firms don’t even reach the national level of 14%.


The City recruits nationally. You point is idiotic.

BAME Associate

Rather than stating whether the figures represent the global population, it would make more sense to have the statistics reflect the people within universities, especially at top universities. For example, UCL and LSE has a lot of BAME students. Additionally, 18.3% of students at Oxford are BAME.

If a lot of BAME students are making up a significant proportion of the cohort at top universities, the trainee cohort of law firms should reflect that, particularly as there is some form of objectivity when it comes to grades.

However, the number of BAME students at most law firms are below 15%. They are filtered out, and that’s where the sad truth comes in – even if they did excel academically, systemic bias, lack of access to the profession, and lack of confidence (stemming from the fact that they are probably the first lawyers in their family) hinders their chances of success.

It is a vicious cycle in which recruiters tell them they are not good enough even though they have a decked CV and stellar grades to prove it (and sometimes much more so than the white candidate). I’ve always found it absolutely shocking how certain MC firms can offer TCs to white candidates from Oxford Brookes University, as opposed to amazing BAME candidates from Oxbridge, simply on the premise that the person has ‘confidence and drive’. However, your perception of whether that person has ‘confidence and drive’ can also be shaped by your implicit bias, and that’s what many fail to recognise.


Just say you’re r@cist and go. We get it, you hate black people and don’t want them at the firms. Guess what? We’re not going anywhere anytime soon and there’s gonna be more BAME candidates to take over these firms throughout the years. We’re coming. And there’s nothing you can do to stop us. So if it makes you feel better coming into the comments section to anonymously push your ignorant views then I hope it warms your heart and helps you sleep at night.

@ BAME associate

I agree with everything you have just said.

you can come with facts, statistics, point evident explanation But no matter how accurate of an argument you make – they aren’t going to listen to you for the simple reason that they don’t want to.

It’s not that they don’t understand how BAME candidates applying for these firms are disadvantaged – they just don’t care so they will come up with any excuse to avoid it.

You’re trying to educate the wrong people. We believe you and we know it’s true, we don’t need to prove it to random people in a comments section where anonymous keyboard warriors want to troll and can say blatantly offensive and ignorant remarks.

Enjoy your weekend. But I advise you to stop fighting with internet trolls, they have nothing better to do. I mean just look at the person who spammed all the likes dislikes, you can tell how much spare time they have on their hands. They won’t ever understand our struggle because they haven’t walked a day in our shoes and experienced it. We believe you and that’s all that matters.


Hmm reasonable analysis but misses a few things. As stated above, London is 40% BME. Someone claimed that ‘the City recruits nationally’. How many Northern accents do you hear at Macfarlanes? Most are from London or the Home Counties. The firms operate in London so they should be more representative of London not the nation as whole, none of the elite firms even have regional offices. Make it make sense.


How many Cockney accents does one hear?

By your warped mindset the place would be filled with lower class white Londoners. Stopping seeing racism when it is not there. Address the real issue, social mobility generally and by magic 90% plus of what you worry about would go away.


You think racism is ‘not there’? Where? Law firms or the UK?

‘Social mobility’ in law is flawed. The comments below tell you why.

Some students claim they are from low-income backgrounds.No, their parents are self-employed ;).

Some students claim they are a sexuality which they are not.

Some students claim to have been the first in their family to attend university. No, and a firm is not going to check this.

Some students claim that they have been in receipt of free school meals. No, and once again a firm is never going to try and verify this.

When you walk into a room, everyone is able to see your ethnicity and make judgements before they have even spoken to you. Look at the experiences of a trainee at FF in the comments below. Racism exists in the profession as it does in every other industry to varying degrees e.g. politics, banking, entertainment, sport etc.

Barry Chuckle (not)

Oh dear, oh dear.



By god, they’re pouncing on a plural and pretending they’re making a difference. But simultaneously to have a group of black attorneys editing the emails and having a more junior partner taking the blame for the email the boss personally sent out is also a complete joke.



As his quotes make clear, the more junior partner is African-American.



Didn’t say he wasn’t.



Sod this cancel culture



Shut up William. Go play croquet with daddy. Or head to the country club this weekend with your nanny. Whatever you do, get the hell out of these comments where you do not belong


Read the Riot Act

Now that’s not very inclusive of you, is it?



Shut up



Lauren and Craig, I value your contribution to the discussion and feel that it helps me understand where you are coming from.

Is the senior freshies partner your father??

Should we not cancel r@cist people? You probably don’t believe in cancelling such people because you are one.



The online echo chamber lets idiots like 4.06pm justify the censorship and crushing of debate and engagement on ideological labelling bases, and that is what fascists do. His logical fallacy is so common at the moment. “If you disagree with me, you are racist and your views are void.” It is disgusting. I find the idea of mass protests at the time of a deadly pandemic offensive and selfish. That does not make me a racist. To me the lack of identified specific aims of the protests risks being counterproductive to accelerated improvements in diversity and respect because the energy being expended is likely to be diffused, peter out and achieve next to nothing. That does not make me a racist.



Is the Senior … :”Should we not cancel r@cist people? You probably don’t believe in cancelling such people because you are one.”

This is how it goes:

1. It is OK to cancel racists.
2. Racist people are people I consider racist.
3. I consider people that disagree with me on race issues as racist.
4. People who disagree with me on cancelling are racists too.

That pretty much is the pathetic mindset.



This sums up 2020.
Man clearly trying to make a difference and wants to make his statement heartfelt sends it to African-American partners in the US for checking. In the US, different language is used which means it does not come across well in the U.K. people assume it’s just this old-white guy who doesn’t want anything to do with it.

When there is so much division in the world, people should be focusing on the real racists etc in this world rather than people like Mr Braham who, despite not 100% in line with 2020 terminology, clearly is not racist etc and deserving of criticism in this way



He IS an old white guy though. What we are NOT about to do is call someone who is white-passing ‘Black’ due to the ‘one-drop rule’. It is not the 18th century.


Carole Baskin

Firms will act like they are diverse by hiring a few rich singaporeans and a few suburban melts who pretend they are the first in their fam to attend university.

Real BAME representation is shockingly underrepresented.


Reality Check

This is so true! I would like this comment 10000x if I could.

Chegal Leek will probably delete this comment like they did with the rest of the ones which tried to address this same issue

They even deleted the paras off that jacks comment when he tried to say the same thing



In order to say a group is underrepresented, you have to know the size of the group relative to the whole population. Black people, for example, make up 3.4% of the UK population. Do you still think they are underrepresented?


Carole Baskin

Black people make up around 4% of the UK population, yet around 2% of solicitors are black. Therefore efforts need to be doubled.

Even worse is that around 17% of all law graduates are black, yet we account for around 2% of the profession.

Yes not all of this percentile will be applying for TCs and yes not all of this percentile will have received a 2:1 from a Russel Group… however, the gap is still significantly bad.



The resort to raw quotas misses why there is that disparity. Once one adjusts for socio-economic background, the vast majority of the disparity is cancelled out. That shows it is not race based, it is better explained by structural classism, and the drive you push for would just result in more entrenched barriers to advancements for non-black people from the same lower socio-economic groups, which is morally offensive.



Diversity in big law is a joke anyway. I know people who regularly, untruthfully tick the ‘bisexual’ box (particularly girls as it is more socially acceptable) just to tick a further diversity box, or people that constantly harp on about their attendance at ‘state schools’ when they in fact went to some of the best grammar schools in the country.

Whether people like it or not, big law services big clients. And by big, I mean wealthy, the richest of the rich, and predominantly middle/upper class. If you don’t easily slot into this type of ‘club’, are ethinically diverse, or go into an interview with anything but a North London/Home Counties accent, imo it immediately becomes just that little bit harder to impress the partners. Its a sad truth, but truth nonetheless



But most of the biggest businesses in the UK and the wealth to buy every home in London is not owned by nice Middle Class people from the Home Counties.

The people running businesses needing to hire those big London law firms are likely from Qatar, China, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Singapore, India, Russia, Nigeria or Hong Kong.

Surely it makes more sense to have some partners with backgrounds from those countries to help understand clients’ needs a bit more?


Jean Paul

I went to a top Grammar school after a rubbish state primary school. Am I privileged then? Grammar schools give boys like me a chance. I have the right to be proud of that, and the fact I was able to get into a good Uni thanks to my school. I was raised by a single parent but she wasn’t on the dole so I guess that doesn’t count.



This is the epitome of the so called white working class. You wonder why no one takes you seriously but gives extra consideration to BAME candidates.

Because you’re not really a true reflection of being disadvantaged.

Just shut the h3ll up



Well said Fred. ‘White working class’ and ‘BAME’ face completely different issues in accessing law. How many of these commenters vouching for ‘white working class’ associate with them? Class in general is a significant part of the debate but studies show that WWC underperform way before university. Those issues should be tackled at that stage rather than bringing up those WWC statistics in post-uni career conversations.


Jean Paul

Why did you assume I am a white guy. Whether you want to believe it or not, I am not. School I went to is well known to give working class boys a shot, and many travel one hour plus to go there in London.



Oh no you went to a bad primary school? That must’ve really set you back in life.

Get out of here you compete and utter cretin


Sympathy seeker

Get out the violin for this simp looooool


Donate £2 a month for this victim

Is somebody playing the violin or is this guy just simping lmaoooo



Yes you are privileged.


Kirkland Lambo Owners' Club.

It’s understandable that the use of the term “blacks” came across badly, but there are much worse instances of deliberate racism, especially with regards to pay rises and hiring practices. It’s easier to get offended on behalf of BAME people and show how not racist you are by piling on this dated phrase used by an older partner than actually doing anything to address more serious, systemic racism. I hate to be cynical (actually that’s bullshit), but I doubt all of this outrage would’ve occured prior to the George Floyd murder.


not here for white fragility

it would have. before or after, we don’t like being called ‘blacks’.



Bored of the virtue signalling now. We need to mop up the virus more right now than just generally moan without any specific agenda.



Shut up



So you are happy to kill old people as a result of these illegal protests in London and elsewhere? Shouldn’t the slogan be “Black Lives Matter More Than The Old and Ill Lives We Are Ending”?



Surely your indignance at the death of old people is better directed at the government’s failed pandemic response, is it not? Or have you only become indignant now that BLM protests are going on?


UK200 power rankings

Don’t go bringing Berrymans Lace Mawer into this.


I don’t know 8.20, maybe having missed a funeral of a relative out of respect for the safety of the old and the ill, I have an issue about thousands of ignorant idiots crushing together in illegal protests. Lol that buddy.



If that really happened, I am sorry to hear it.

I just find that equating the protests with ‘killing old people’ lacks nuance and is kind of disingenuous. Like if that’s really what you care about, you might want to hold the government accountable for their failure to come up with a serious plan early on. Those ‘old people’ didn’t just die because people went out to protest. That is highly misleading.

I think the BLM protests are confusing, in the sense that the UK’s problem is more one of class than one of colour. That is not to say colour is not a relevant factor, but I digress. The point is that what happened in the US is revolting. In the context of a US government that seems to be getting too close to autocracy, it is important to take a stand. ‘thousands of ignorant idiots crushing together in illegal protests.’ Really? That is all you have to say on the matter? I think this view of things is highly reductive and shows a lack of empathy I personally struggle to understand.

What are British values if we do not take a stand against what happened? Shall we watch on and say nothing? Do you find that acceptable? I take issue with the discourse of ‘protests bad cos pandemic’ so the ‘protests have absolutely no legitimacy.’ It is highly inconvenient that the protests are happening in the midst of a global pandemic, but I’m not sure that must lead to the conclusion that the protests should not be happening.

In the end, the government could also quell the UK protests by taking a stance. Saying what happened to George Floyd was wrong and does not represent our values. What has the government done instead? Nothing. On top of the weak pandemic response and the disastrous Brexit negotiations, the government is where ire should be directed, not the protesters. Weak, weak, weak.


There is no nuance here. Crowds spread the virus more widely and more effectively than anything else, and it will kill people. You are trying to minimise that fact and that is apologism.

We sit back and do nothing about police brutality in China, in Saudi, in Hungary and on and on. This is not a principled stand, it is jumping on a bandwagon. At least we agree that what they are protesting in the US has nothing to do with life in the UK.


“Braham’s use of non-inclusive language that seems to unintentionally place black people into a separate category to white people”

WTF? Isn’t this supposed to be all about black people belonging in a separate category? Being “colourblind” is now a hate crime, isn’t it?

“Antiracism” has morphed into a religion for anxious white people. Credo, confession, hierarchy, excommunication, crusade/jihad, magical beliefs, original sin, the collection plate, the duty to proselytise, hard-to-learn linguistic conventions/shibboleths… it’s all there.

The only thing lacking is the ruthless sexual exploitation of children, but I’m sure that’ll come in time.


not here for white fragility

@anon is an idiot, what exactly do you mean by “speaking better” lmaoo what in the internalised coded racism is that comment?



Freshfields’ type is blonde and blue eyed. Hmm.


Fed Up

I can assure you, having watch him turn the firm most of us who work there have loved into a cesspool of steaming hateful shit over the past x number of years, that he is a complete and utter dick who deserves all the bad publicity he’s getting for this. Because he’s manage to swerve way worse that’s happened on his watch. But, you know, that’s just “my” opinion.



Passed over for promotion again, then?



You’re probably the one spamming the likes and dislikes, what a troll


Still Fed Up

Uhm, no, I was promoted, thanks. Because my ability has nothing to do with anything? I used to love the firm, but now don’t, because of what he (and others in his mould, who are also entitled crusty white old men) have done to it.



So you take the cash, stay silent and remain part of the problem? Classy, bro.


Oh honey

Who said I remain silent? How do you think it ended up on Roll on Friday in the first place?


Not because of you.

Someone who actually works there

The email was co-written BY an African American. An apology and explanation that it was his American terminology that was incorporated was sent firm-wide of his own volition, accidentally as a reply all directly to the senior partner. It was actually a lot of white colleagues who complained, to then realise Tim is in fact black.

As someone who does not fit the Freshfields “type” described above, I can tell you the intakes are diverse and we are doing just fine thank you, so save your pity / horror stories.

There’s always work to be done, but to say Freshfields is a white middle class privately educated workplace is a gross misrepresentation, and I simply would not be there. Worth mentioning the firm’s involvement with the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship, Aspiring Solicitors, Rare Recruitment, non-RG open days/schemes, the donation they’re making to BLM organisations and the blind CV interviewing policy.

There are limitations to what one organisation can do in a society that is itself structurally racist.


Someone who also works there

Yes, but given that it was a statement to be sent across the network, do you not think it should’ve had input from black colleagues across the network, rather than just in the US, to avoid what happened?

And I don’t think the fact that some of the colleagues who complained were white has anything to do with it. Are white colleagues just meant to ignore behaviour that appears racist or inappropriate because it’s “nothing to do with them”? That kind of seems a bit counter productive.

And I’m speaking as someone who works there, is black, and was offended, and did complain.


Black Trainee at Freshfields

Easy for you say.

I’ve noticed my fellow white colleagues get better appraisals and feedback in their seats whereas I have to prove myself so much more and for what reason other than the colour of my skin? I do anything wrong and it’s scrutinised so much more than if Harry and Will were to do the same thing – and they have but get away with it.

Every day in the office all anyone wants to talk about is horse riding and expensive ski trips and ancient wine tasting events – all things associated with privilege with myself and other BAME trainees of low socio economic background have not experienced so we are automatically forced out of the conversation.

I know many of my white fellow trainees who have been given the heads up by superiors that are willing to keep them on after qualification and it’s almost guaranteed for them to be kept on as an NQ but once again myself and other BAME trainees do not have that privilege.

I won’t say any more but I could go on for a very very long time, you get the gist.


Diane Abbott

I’m sorry to hear that. i suppose all you can do is find solace in how far you’ve come. Even if you don’t stay on i’m sure you will find a home at a more suitable firm.



Lol some people really think talking about horse riding and expensive ski trips are adequate personality traits


They ain’t ever going to be sporting heros

It’s much worse at the Bar. The big tickets there for ‘respect’ are opera attendance and British Airways frequent flyer status.

I knew one barrister who flew ten times a year in business class for weekends to New York in order to impress his Head of Chambers, who also had the same frequent flyer status.

Jesus wept.



“Every day in the office all anyone wants to talk about is horse riding and expensive ski trips and ancient wine tasting events – all things associated with privilege with myself and other BAME trainees of low socio economic background have not experienced so we are automatically forced out of the conversation.”

You should have paid attention. You would have learnt something and therefore bettered yourself.



You should have paid attention to the comment.: ‘‘automatically forced out of the conversation’’.

No opportunity to learn, let’s be honest would those individuals invite those outside of that ‘set’ to partake in such activities? Unlikely.



Bollocks. You chose not to engage in the conversation on account of your own chippiness and self-defeating wish to be a victim. In the future, when the occasion arises for self-betterment, you should grasp it and learn from it.


“there’s always work to be done”

No there isn’t. This is just a meaningless line that adherents of the woke religion are expected to repeat from time to time, like “Amen”.


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