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Legal Cheek was founded in 2011. It has grown to become the UK’s leading news source for junior lawyers and law students, and has been described by The Sunday Times as “Popbitch for lawyers” and The Telegraph as an “irreverent, must-read tabloid law website”.
Mouse droppings and risk of contamination cited in findings
A hygiene report produced by Camden Council and acquired by Legal Cheek has revealed why Mishcon de Reya‘s glamorous staff eatery was hammered by food safety inspectors.
The report (embedded in full below) shows that the City player’s in-house cafe received black marks for various hygiene no-nos, including “potential for cross-contamination of allergens”, “mouse droppings” and “ready to eat food held at ambient temperatures”. Overall, the firm chalked up a score of 50 out of 60 — 60 being the worst mark possible.
Responding to the report’s findings, a spokesperson for Mishcon de Reya said:
“Anything referred to in the assessment report has since been rectified with the help of our supply chain partners.”
On the cross-contamination point, inspectors found food containing peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts were not separated from other foods at the firm’s self-service breakfast table. Moreover, dairy milk and other types of non-dairy milk were prepared in stainless steel jugs that were not labelled or colour-coded to ensure that there was no cross-contamination.
“There was an isolated area of mouse droppings to the first floor kitchen next to the wine cooler. Mouse droppings were also found in the area of service pipes/cables to the ground floor catering staff room.”
The detailed findings come just weeks after it emerged that Mishcon de Reya had received a 1 out 5 food hygiene rating by Camden Council’s clipboard-wielding inspectors. At the time, Legal Cheek reproted that inspectors had found the Holborn outfit’s cafe lacking in “hygienic food handling”, “cleanliness and condition of facilities and building” and “management of food safety”.
Hygiene indiscretions aside, the two-office-outfit (London and New York) won the coveted Most Admired Law Firm 2018 at this year’s Legal Cheek awards. Its canteen won an A rating in the same survey.
Scottish comedian Iain Stirling, who provides the hilarious commentary for ITV2’s Love Island, is a University of Edinburgh law graduate.
On yesterday’s instalment of the show, the Islanders took part in a challenge called Hot Stuff, which saw the boys go head to head in strip tease-style rescue mission. Reflecting on the bizarre task he was providing commentary on, Stirling told viewers: “You know I’ve got a law degree?”
Thirty-year-old Stirling held aspirations of becoming a lawyer before he turned his hand to comedy in the final year of his LLB. However, the Scottish funnyman’s links to the law don’t stop there. In an interview with The Telegraph last year, Stirling revealed his father worked for a law firm and his mother is a researcher at his former law school.
Having caught the comedy bug, Stirling says his uni grades started to suffer, telling the newspaper:
“I probably wouldn’t be doing comedy if it wasn’t for the fact that I was doing stand-up and getting a few gigs, while I was also applying for law internships and getting absolutely nothing.”
Stirling’s pi**-taking commentary has made him a firm favourite among Love Island fans and has helped drive his huge social media following — over 300,000 followers across Twitter and Instagram.
Love Island goes from strength to strength as the government crumbles. Which house is the one full of idiots?
Stirling aside, we have witnessed not one, but two legally-minded contestants enter this year’s Love Island villa.
Rosie Williams, 26, from Rhondda in South Wales, left her job at Just Costs Solicitors in Manchester to take part in the show. Williams, who refers to herself as “Legally Brunette” in several of her Instagram posts, completed her Legal Practice Course (LPC) at the University of Law, and qualified as a solicitor earlier this year. She was dumped from the villa last month.
Like Williams, fellow love-seeker Megan Barton-Hanson has experience working in a law firm. She worked as a legal secretary for three years but, “struggling for money”, she started stripping on the side. “Then I realised I was earning the same money that I did in a month in two days,” Barton-Hanson said.
Magic circle firm’s bosses still on over £1.5 million
Linklaters has reported a slight drop in the average earnings of its mega-wealthy partners for the first time in nearly a decade as it announced a mixed set of financial results.
The global player has announced that profit per equity partner (PEP) had fallen by 1.9% to £1.538 million — putting it behind its magic circle rivals Freshfields, Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance.
Still one of the most profitable firms in the world, Linklaters cited tweaks to the way it counts its partners for the unexpected dip. The remaining magic circler, Slaughter and May, does not disclose its results, but it is understood to be the most profitable of the elite fivesome.
Partner profits aside, the Silk Street firm saw revenues jump to £1.523 billion, up 6% from £1.44 billion, and pre-tax profits rise from £664 million to £676 million, an uplift of 1.7%.
Magic circle 2018 financials
Profit per equity partner (PEP)
Allen & Overy
Slaughter and May
Gideon Moore, Linklaters’ firmwide managing partner, said: “The firm has performed strongly again this year, achieving a 4.8% increase in income at constant currency. Our performance has been driven by the efforts of our people, our deep client relationships and our sector focus.” He added:
“During the course of the financial year we rolled out the global implementation of our firmwide strategy refresh: increased focus on investing in clients, our people and technology. We’re already seeing the results of some of the initiatives we’ve put in place and I’m excited about how we take the firm forward this year, acting for clients as a united, global team.”
Linklaters is the last of the magic circle firms to announce its results this year.
Students from under-represented backgrounds assigned barrister mentors as part of myth-busting two-day workshop
Radcliffe Chambers, the London-based chancery set, has held its first ever law camp for sixth-form students from under-represented groups in the latest attempt to diversify the bar.
Earlier this week, Radcliffe’s Student Law Camp hosted a series of workshops giving a brief overview of the different aspects of legal practice — from advocacy to drafting wills.
Ten lucky students, chosen from 80 applicants in partnership with Big Voice London, a UK Supreme Court-backed charity aimed at engaging young people in law and legal policy, were given a whistle-stop tour of what is on offer in a career in law.
The programme, which took place over two days, aims to widen access to the bar by filling a knowledge gap which students from under-represented groups, without family connections, might have. As part of this, the camp emphasised the importance of interview skills, a strong CV and explained the various routes into the profession.
Perhaps the most interesting experience for students, however, was to be paired with barrister mentors during the camp. Not only were students able to chat with individual barristers over a Domino’s ‘Two for Tuesday’ lunch, but they were encouraged to approach their mentor again in the future with law-career related questions.
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The camp also intends to humanise the bar in the face of negative perceptions among young and under-represented groups. Sixth form student, Lorena, for example, said that prior to the camp her notions of a career as a barrister were that it was “for the high class — inaccessible and non-achievable”.
According to Radcliffe barrister Katherine McQuail, this was exactly the stereotype the camp sought to break down. She emphasised that if there is any hope to increase diversity at the bar, it needs to be demonstrated that “barristers are approachable, human beings and within reach”.
Radcliffe has specifically targeted sixth-formers rather than undergraduates because it is hoping to catch the next generation before they have made up their minds and cast their die in a particular direction.
Barristers in attendance were keen to stress that work ethic is as important as which university you go to. Senior barrister, Kate Selway, commented: “providing a student works hard, is passionate about their subject and gets a good degree”, they should not rule out the bar.
The camp is the first of its kind at the bar and Fiona Fitzgerald, Radcliffe’s chief executive, is optimistic about the programme’s future and she hopes that the camp will result in a “groundswell” among other sets. But even if it doesn’t catch on, Fitzgerald says:
“If the camp results in just one student deciding to become a barrister, then this will be a success in its own right.”
After wealthy anonymous benefactor spotted Brighton grad’s online appeal
Ebun Azeez pictured working at Burger King
A first class law grad has raised enough money to secure her place on a prestigious postgraduate course at the University of Oxford.
Ebun Azeez, who completed her LLB at the University of Brighton, was offered a spot on Oxford’s elite Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) course at Pembroke College. However, there was just one problem — aspiring lawyer Azeez couldn’t afford the hefty £31,000 in fees.
Still way off her financial target, international student Azeez was fortunate in that her appeal was spotted by a wealthy alumnus of Pembroke College, who came forward to offer substantial financial support. Digging deep, The Oxford Law Faculty then matched the anonymous benefactor’s generous gift through the Sants BCL Scholarship.
The upshot of all this? Azeez will be one of just 99 students enrolling onto Oxford’s BCL course this autumn.
It’s probably fair to say Azeez hasn’t had the easiest start to her legal life. She’s a first-generation uni grad, the daughter of small business owners and had to pull shifts in Burger King and the uni’s accommodation office to fund her LLB studies.
Speaking to Legal Cheek about her crowdfunding success, Azeez said:
“I cannot put the feeling into words when I recall the exact moment I found out about the scholarship. It was a mix of relief, disbelief, excitement and profound gratefulness — all at once! I am very thankful and overwhelmed by the support which I received from people all around the world.”
Solicitor turned diversity champion Yasmin Sheikh shares her story
Yasmin Sheikh woke up one day paralysed from the waist down — aged just 29.
Sheikh was a personal injury lawyer at international firm, Clyde & Co; she was fit and healthy, sociable, a non-smoker and a vegetarian, when a spinal stroke led, without warning, to the loss of the use of both her legs.
In the latest episode of The Hearing podcast, Sheikh speaks candidly to Child & Child partner Kevin Poulter about how her life has changed since then and how she wants to challenge the daily “microaggressions” against her and others like her.
A year in rehabilitation followed Sheikh’s injury and she soon found herself looking at the world differently. “I was surrounded by charities and other disabled people with these incredible stories. That’s what sparked my interest in diversity”, she tells Poulter.
The Hearing: EP. 06 – Yasmin Sheikh - SoundCloud (1841 secs long, 30 plays)Play in SoundCloud
Returning to work, Sheikh explains how she felt conscious of the way her colleagues perceived her : “I didn’t know who I was and felt as if I was a burden… by that point I ticked every box: I was a mixed-race woman and a wheelchair user.”
After 12 years working successfully in law, Sheikh decided to give it up to found Diverse Matters, a training consultancy firm specialising in diversity and disability.
Living with a disability day-to-day, Sheikh has dealt with her fair share of prejudicial incidents, or what she has termed “microaggressions”. She explains:
“They range from fairly innocuous things like someone asking whether I’m okay if I happen to look down at my phone for a while when out and about in my wheelchair to some pretty horrible things. To them, it’s just one incident, but for me it’s hundreds on a daily basis.”
It is incidents like this that Sheikh is working hard to combat. Diverse Matters partners with a number of law firms — including Mayer Brown and Eversheds Sutherland — to encourage staff to embrace diversity and disability through training workshops, tailored seminars and interactive events.
“Disability isn’t just sticks and wheelchairs”, says Sheikh, “it’s all forms we can’t see such as cancer, diabetes or mental health conditions”. Part of her role is to make sure law firms are attuned to this and understand how they can get the best out of their lawyers and support staff who may have less visible conditions.
Alongside her consultancy work, Sheikh has taken up a whole host of other projects. She is the vice-chair of the Law Society’s Lawyers with Disabilities Division and has taken to the screen and stage as an actress and stand-up comedian.
You can hear more about Sheikh’s life and campaign to change attitudes to disability in the workplace in The Hearing podcast.
Produced by the Social Mobility Foundation and Social Mobility Commission and backed by The City of London Corporation, the Index ranks the UK’s employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all backgrounds.
The index is based on a voluntary and free survey that assesses employers across seven key areas including the work they do with young people, their recruitment and selection processes and how people from lower-income backgrounds progress within their organisations. Over 100 employers from 18 sectors, who collectively employ over one million people, entered for the 2018 Index.
Sir Nick Clegg, chairman of the Social Mobility Foundation, said: “I’m delighted that so many organisations chose to participate in the Social Mobility Index this year. Improving social mobility across society is a collective endeavour — with government, schools, colleges, universities, families and businesses all pulling in the same direction.” He added:
“This year’s index shows that there is a growing appetite for employers to play their part — I warmly congratulate all those who did so, and I hope they will be joined by more employers in next year’s index.”
The legal profession’s strong showing on this year’s index comes despite recent research suggesting that privately-educated lawyers continue to dominate corporate law.
The stats, released earlier this year by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, show firms which mainly handle high-paying corporate work have the lowest proportion of state-educated solicitors, 56%. By contrast, 76% of lawyers in firms that mainly do litigation work are from state schools, while this figure is 77% for mainly-criminal outfits. Twenty-two percent of all lawyers attended fee-paying schools, the SRA data says, compared with 7% of the general population.
A handful of lawyers at City outfit Mishcon de Reya have had their billable hours slashed to encourage them to be more innovative.
The outfit confirmed a “small group” of associates in its London office have had individual chargeable hours targets cut by up to 20% to enable them to spend more time on innovation and technology projects. Mishcon, one of a number of firms not to disclose its billable target figures, said there are currently no plans to extend the initiative business-wide.
Mishcon’s chief technology officer, Nick West, said:
“We encourage all of our people to come forward with any ideas they have — innovation is not restricted to those who have dedicated time to allocate to it. We are constantly looking for ways in which we can deliver more for our clients through optimising technology and ways in which we can streamline our own ways of working. Our new ideas come from a collective enthusiasm for driving improvements and working smarter.”
Mishcon’s billable hours move comes just weeks after fellow City player Reed Smith announced a similar scheme.
Mischon was one of the first law firms to launch an in-house innovation hub. Now a hot trend across the City, Mishcon’s MDR LAB welcomed six start-ups through its doors last summer. The firm went on to make financial investments in two: Everchron (litigation management software) and Ping (a programme that automates timekeeping for lawyers).
It’s been an interesting couple of months for City lawyer pay.
US outfit Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy fired the starting pistol on another summer pay war after it upped the salaries of its London-based newly qualified (NQ) lawyers to £143,000. Not to be outdone, a host of US firms quickly matched Milbank’s big money move.
The focus now shifts to the top UK-headquartered outfits, most notably the fivesome known as the magic circle. Keen to preserve their elite status and keep their associate ranks satified, they too are likely to bump pay — but by just how much remains to be seen.
That said, one big City firm — albeit not a member of the magic circle — has already upped pay following the US rises. Herbert Smith Freehills announced last week that junior associates will now start on a £93,000 (salary and bonus), up 13% from £82,000.
Legal Cheek has produced a handy video (embedded above) giving you the lowdown on this summer’s MoneyLaw madness.
Football’s coming home… to a major gallery near you
A certain World Cup semi-final between England and Croatia in Moscow has obviously come as something of a surprise to many.
And perhaps a certain pang of pity might be felt for various chambers and law firms who organised events for 11 July safe in the knowledge that England was not likely to go beyond the group or even quarter-final round.
Elite commercial set Brick Court Chambers has risen to the challenge. Having sent out invitations some months ago for its annual party at Tate Britain this evening, it sent out a more recent reminder that “the members of chambers look forward to welcoming you to their annual party, which will include a viewing of the All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life Exhibition AND a screening of the World Cup semi-final match between Croatia and England.”
It seems the chambers couldn’t have chosen a more aptly-named exhibition for the party and the fixture — All Too Human — should the England players not make it to the final… or if they do…