Walker Morris awards training contract to child of managing partner

By on

Leeds outfit says it operates ‘completely blind’ assessment process, with candidates securing positions on ‘performance and merit’

Walker Morris (image via Mike Beaver/Google Maps)

Walker Morris awarded a training contract to the managing partner’s child, it has emerged.

Malcolm Simpson’s offspring will join the Leeds firm as one of 15 trainees in an upcoming cohort, the website Roll on Friday reports. They are said to have secured a work experience placement at Walker Morris in 2014 and a vacation scheme with the firm in February of this year, before successfully landing the training contract.

Walker Morris says Simpson had no involvement in the graduate recruitment process at any stage, with successful candidates securing placements “based on their own performance and merit”.

A firm spokesperson said candidates’ CVs and assessments are reviewed on a “completely blind” basis, and the assessment team “was not aware of any existing relationship between any candidates and the firm”. They confirmed that Simpson’s child went through the same application processes as other trainees.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Some law firms have policies in place that prevent the offspring of partners applying for graduate roles at their firms, while others aren’t so prescriptive. Walker Morris did not disclose its policy regarding hiring the close relations of senior partners but did mention it recruits those with “the best experience and skillset for the role” and “work[s] very hard to eliminate bias in the treatment of all our employees and potential candidates at all levels”.

The spokesperson said the firm had recently launched an initiative to review its diversity processes, although this is not connected to Simpson’s youngster being awarded a TC. “[We are] currently re-looking at all our processes because there is always room to improve and we recognise that having a talented and diverse workforce is key to being able to respond effectively to our wide-ranging client base and that our success is a reflection of the quality and skill of our people.”

They added that the firm is a signatory to the Law Society Diversity and Inclusion Charter and has “developed an Equality, Inclusivity and Diversity Policy that explains in detail the firm’s commitment to promoting diversity in the workplace”.

Simpson, a commercial litigation and arbitration partner, has been at Walker Morris for just over two decades, and became managing partner of the firm in 2018.

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter



What a load of bull. Even if the assessment process is completely blind, the child of the Managing Partner would most probably have had vast amounts of help with preparation – something us mere mortals don’t get.


6 year PQE

I feel your frustration may be slightly off aim here – he would have had vast amounts of help with preparation had he applied to other firms regardless given his fathers role.

Although I’m genuinely unsure which way I’m leaning on this one re; nepotism. Do we really think his father had no input at all here?


Get Real


“Hi head of Grad Rec, I promise I will have no influence on your Trainee assessment process. On a completely unrelated note, in the coming days I will be deciding whether to promote you or make your redundant and outsource all HR and recruitment. Have a great weekend!”


Archibald Pomp O'City

Are you suggesting that a law partner should not help his child to secure a legal role because this is unfair to applicants whose parents are not legally qualified? If not, what on earth do you mean?



No, but there’s a difference between “They’ll want you to show commercial awareness, read up on why the Deliveroo float went awry recently” and “XXX, who of course works for me and relies on my patronage to climb the partnership greasy pole, is the training partner who’ll interview you. He’s a big Man Utd fan, so try to get onto football. His practice is mainly mid-market private equity so read up on these funds”.



So children of successful lawyers should be punished for having parents who are equipped to help them in their chosen field?
Does this extend to other professions? Should we prevent prevent the children of doctors from pursuing a career?

I suspect that won’t bother you as much because it is not that a person has gained something through support from their family, it is that you have not.



Barry, if said managing partner was so successful and awe inspiring in the legal community, you’d simply give your child some experience and knowhow to get a training contract elsewhere, probably using some connections. I believe that’s probably how things work in the medical profession, whereby you still earn the right to practice. Anyway who are we to judge? These smart folk are so subtle and smart about their business and gifts, no one seems to notice a thing. Seems like you need a reality check, but I’m guessing at least you’ve managed to get a few family members a training contract.



No, they shouldn’t be punished. But they definitely should not expect to congratulated for making it through a “non-biased” or “blind” process that is normally extremely competitive and a cause of much anxiety, depression and pain for many hopefuls desperately trying to enter the profession.

However, I very much hope this young Trainee is a bloody fantastic lawyer, as they will need to combat a lot of negative perceptions (from colleagues and clients) for as long as they stay at Walker Morris.



Signalling out a single person like this is really inappropriate, legal cheek. Low blow.

Anyway, has anyone ever heard of Walker Morris?



Calling out privilege is brave journalism.


Anon plus non

the one thing that seems inappropriate is the recruitment process and all those, personally involved. Questions should be asked?



Out of interest, assuming they don’t have an internal policy prohibiting hiring a close family member, why does the recruitment process “seem inappropriate” to you?


Anon plus non

Would depend entirely on the process. Presuming a second name is shared and partners (more specifically a Managing Partner)/ HR have spoken to each other in the last year, I think to call a process blind is most likely unrealistic, and in the most part unachievable. Hiding behind policy would be commendable and probably effective in the most part, but people still look silly, especially when calling your own process (presumably following own policy) “blind”.



They do a lot of grunt DD work as a junior partner to Kirkland on big deals.

Lucrative little niche for the partners who can charge London rates and pay Leeds wages, brutal for the juniors.



How common is this sort of junior work on big deals for regional firms?


Blind leading the blind

By “blind”, are they speaking metaphorically i.e. extraordinarilly ignorant? Well done to all involved, it is, comedy gold.


Archibald Pomp O'City

Your ‘joke’ isn’t comedy gold, self-proclaimed or otherwise.


blind leading the blind

Got to enjoy ones own content, otherwise, what are we here for?



Even if this was actually merited, everyone involved should be smart enough to know the optics of it would be fucking awful. The child is not going to be respected by their peers and it just stinks of nepotism.


Archibald Pomp O'City

“everyone involved should be smart enough to know the optics of it would be fucking awful”

Earth to Anon: THEY DON’T CARE. In other news, politicians are shameless too.



why do you keep replying to everyone’s post with the same thing? we’re not interested in your quirky cynicism; it isn’t a character trait


Archibald Pomp O'City

Oh yes they are. And oh yes it is.



Not the first time a partner’s child has been offered a TC – an acquaintance from university was hired the same way at a City firm.



How can the firm claim to be inclusive or diverse when they aren’t taking into consideration the contextual advantage this applicant was at?

Even if they have a blind recruitment system, not doing this makes this stink of nepotism



So people whose parents are able/willing to support them should be punished and held to a higher standard… that is not inclusivity or diversity, that is spite and vindictiveness that leads to the lazy discrimination of lowered expectations. Stop trying to punish others for your own mediocrity.


tradey o'tool

My builder’s company is called name & sons, because his sons work in the business too. Should he not be able to recruit his offspring or is it just law firms that can’t do it? It’s hard to keep up with what’s right and wrong these days.



what an awful comeback




That was an awful comeback!



I had never heard of Walker Morris until now. Why are the recruitment policies of a high street firm in Leeds worthy of comment?



Whilst I don’t hold any particular brief for Walker Morris, calling them a “high street firm” is more than slightly off beam; they’re a big deal in the Leeds market and one of the bigger names outside of London.

Playing the “I’ve never heard of…” card is often high risk, because it can make the person making the assertion look rather uninformed as opposed to suggesting that the target of their snark is not high-profile enough to merit their attention.


Fresh Gem

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Never fails to hold up truth.



What a classic move of a law firm.



Shocker, merit and performance =cronyism. That what are great country was built on.



Why does this matter. The firm belongs to the partners. It is not the civil service. They should be permitted to hire and fire as they please, for any reason at all, good, bad or indifferent.



This is true, but then the firm should not be claiming its recruitment process is blind and meritocratic. Can’t have it both ways



All these jealous losers acting like a private firm is supposed to act like a “merit” worshipping public bureaucracy.



This happens so often it’s barely news-worthy anymore. I’ve known of at least 3 children of partners at my firm getting offers. Nobody (including me for fear of looking like I’ve got a chip on my shoulder) ever calls it out though!


A brave new world

Ah the siren song of change: “But it’s standard practice” and fear of reprisals.

The yellow high vis jackets are being zipped up as we speak.



can we please stop making everything into a ‘diversity’ issue – there are serious diversity issues in the profession which aren’t helped by this apparent need to dress everything up as one


Comments are closed.

Related Stories