Exclusive: A&O and Freshfields auction work experience to highest bidder
22 April 2016
Allen & Overy
have been found offering work experience to the highest bidders in a charity auction.
Partners at both firms offered the experiences as lots in an auction for The Duchenne Research Fund, which raises money to find cures for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Sandwiched between a "Luxury Bespoke Scarf
" and a "Private Jet Experience
", Freshfields donated two weeks' shadowing during half term or summer breaks. A&O was "delighted
" to offer one week's work experience in its M&A team, "perfect for 17-19 year old school or gap year student
". The auction has begun online
with minimum bids of £100 and will finish during a gala dinner to be held at the Lancaster London Hotel in May.
Opportunities for work experience at elite firms are as rare as hens' teeth and it is now widely accepted that, in the interests of diversity and basic common sense, candidates should be selected on the basis of merit rather than how much they can afford to pay. When RollOnFriday revealed last year that Norton Rose Fulbright had offered places to clients' children
, the Law Society responded that high quality work experience was "at a premium
" and access to it was "a major obstacle to entering the profession
". While the intentions of the Magic Circle donors are laudable, allowing students to burnish their CVs thanks solely to the size of daddy's wallet makes a mockery of the firms' diversity policies.
However, young Tarquin will now have to settle for VIP tickets for Loose Women or Charles Tyrwhitt cufflinks instead. Both firms have said they will withdraw their lots after being contacted by RollOnFriday.
A spokesman for Allen & Overy said, “this was a well intentioned offer from a partner to help a great charity
", but "we are vocal advocates of social mobility and as such have withdrawn the work experience offer from the auction to ensure our CSR efforts do not conflict
". Freshfields' spokesman said that it provided placements to over 150 students from less privileged backgrounds last year, but the auction lot "does not fit with what we are trying to achieve with those students
". A&O will make a donation to the charity instead, while Freshfields will also "reach an alternative solution with regards to their fundraising efforts"