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Exclusive: Freshfields trainee jokes to fellow rookies ‘the poor are nothing’

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Spokesperson says misplaced remark in email ‘not reflective of the firm or its values’

A young magic circle rookie solicitor has discovered first hand there are limits to what constitutes office banter after an email in which they appeared to joke about poor people fell flat among fellow trainees.

Legal Cheek can reveal the crass remark came as a group trainees at Freshfields were attempting to synchronise their busy schedules in order to arrange a much needed social event in light of the lifting of Covid restrictions.

Responding to an email confirming a BBQ will be held later this month, the unnamed rookie made several amendments to the original message — and specifically the first sentence of the final paragraph — in what appears to be a misplaced (and slightly confusing) attempt at humour.

Post-amends, the sentence read:

“In case helpful, a reminder that I am rich in colleagues and the poor are nothing…”

A redacted screenshot of the trainee’s email

The original line, prior to amends and which does not appear in the screenshot above, read: “In case helpful, a reminder that I am rich in barbecues (there are 2) and so meat will be cooked on one and everything else on the other.”

Legal Cheek understands the edited email (redacted screenshot above) was sent to around half of the firm’s 80 or so trainees.

A spokesperson for Freshfields told Legal Cheek “the comments are not reflective of the firm or its values.”

The rookie’s tweaks didn’t go down well with some colleagues, with one insider telling us that it was a “shame” they appeared to have chosen to poke fun at people from “working class” and “less privileged” backgrounds.

The trainee’s “poor” joke comes as firms across the City continue to splash the cash in order to retain the very best junior lawyer talent. A host of top firms have upped salaries in recent weeks, with some 20-somethings now trousering upwards of £145k upon qualification.

Our Firms Most List shows a trainee at Freshfields earns £45,000 in year one, rising to £51,000 in year two. Upon qualification, rookie salaries almost double to £100,000 — a six-figure package recently matched by several of its MC counterparts.

Freshfields recently upped its efforts to support aspiring lawyers from lower socio-economic backgrounds, through the launch of new mentoring programme which sees sixth-formers take part in work experience and skills session led by the firm’s lawyers.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

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