trowers squat

They never covered this on the LPC.


A trainee solicitor at Trowers & Hamlins was assaulted this week after the firm sent him to serve notices on squatters in Hackney unaccompanied and after-dark, RollOnFriday understands.

Emails obtained by RollOnFriday show that a solicitor based in the firm's Birmingham office contacted all the Trowers trainees on Wednesday afternoon asking if anyone in London would be "willing to hop in a taxi" to East London that evening "and post a copy of the documents through the letterbox or see if you can get anyone to answer the door to hand the copies of the bundles to?" 

Trainees were told they would also have to tape copies of the notices to the front doors of the four properties which the “trespassers” had occupied.

The supervising solicitor appeared to recognise that a bailiff would ordinarily deal with the matter, asking for a trainee to "let me know if you are available asap otherwise we need to contact a process server". However, the email does not mention any potential risks.

On Wednesday evening the first seat trainee who volunteered for the job was abused, attacked and chased when he attempted to carry out his task, RollOnFriday understands.

Sources described their shock that Trowers had blithely dispatched one of its most junior lawyers to a volatile situation with instructions guaranteed to make it more hazardous.

"He was assaulted, harassed and followed" because Trowers "sent him there unaccompanied, in the dark and with no guidance, let alone supervision", said an insider.

The next day Lucy James, a Trowers & Hamlins partner and the firm's training principal, sent the trainees an email in which she appeared to recognise that something had gone dreadfully wrong.

"As you may be aware, there was an incident yesterday evening with a trainee who was instructed to serve some papers", she wrote on Thursday.

"Whilst the trainee involved is fine, that task is not one that they should have been asked to undertake", she said.

It is not hard to imagine the galactic bollocking the Brum office's real estate team received when partners discovered it had sent a besuited Tristan (not his real name) to evict a bunch of furious anarchists, with no training or assistance whatsoever, instead of a massive bailiff with a shaved head.

James said in her email, "The safety and wellbeing of all our employees is paramount and we are taking appropriate steps to ensure something like this does not happen again".

"If any of you are asked to do something which you have concerns about, please do not hesitate to bring it to our attention", she added in her message to the trainees.

The firm has been contacted for comment.

If you were ever asked to do something concerning by your firm as a trainee, let ROF know in the comments or write in.


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Comments

Anon 12 November 21 08:59

If true, this is a remarkably dire lapse in judgment by the supervisor and the firm. 

Anonymous 12 November 21 08:59

That's why it's always best to send big muscular chaps with bald heads to do that type of work! 

Anon 12 November 21 09:01

“The safety and wellbeing of all our employees is paramount”

no, clearly getting a potentially risky job done quickly and cheaply was paramount

London softies 12 November 21 09:12

Hah! Brummie bantz! We got youz good, Londoners!

 

While T&H trainees might not top the list of big dolla earners, pretty sure process servers are cheaper. Is this just laziness? Or perhaps a late realization that client was promised that this would happen "asap"?

A Harrow Man 12 November 21 09:13

It's character building. Tristan will come out of the other side all the better for it. 

Perennial Gen Z moaners taking offence and complaining on his behalf should be soundly ignored.

Nick 12 November 21 09:20

Just write the trainee time off as we are on a fixed fee for that kind for work ? rather than incur moderate costs. Classy 

SDT FODDER 12 November 21 09:31

(Some) Things I had to do as a trainee (in no particular order)

 

1. Buy tights for my training supervisor (I was an innocent boy from the country at that point in my life)

2. Ask a road digger to stop digging the road outside our offices (as my then training supervisor could not "hear herself think over the racket")

3. Board a ship whilst it was at anchor in the north sea to interview the crew of a vessel regarding the suspicious death of one of their number (the captain promptly asked me if I could procure women and drugs for him and then had a panic attack when I declined to assist).

4. serve (freezing injunction) papers on a man who had arranged the defenestration of an indonesian judge

5. taken two korean businessment to a "burlesque" show ( a genuinely unpleasant experience as they seem to get very over excited)

6. paid facilitation payments to a port official in Port Harcourt (was in actual fear of my life so think I am ok on that one)

7. flew to dubai and back again in a day to have documents executed on a ship sale contract (sorry Greta).

ummmmm that's it.

 

Furious 12 November 21 09:31

This is astonishingly reckless. This kind of wilful disregard for the health and safety of junior staff is totally unacceptable and a good sign that the solicitor who issued the instruction is absolutely unfit to be responsible for managing others. Absolutely rife in law, sadly! If someone from another office sent this to my trainees, I'd explicitly instruct them not to go and ask the lawyer on the other end what the fuck he or she or they was/were thinking.

The solicitor should get a bollocking and the trainee should get a personal injury claim in against his firm pronto.

Anonymous 12 November 21 09:36

I had to do this in my second week as a paralegal, many many years ago. Hopped into a taxi and went out into Essex to knock on some decidedly dodgy doors*. I imagine it's a task foisted on gullible new joiners all the time, in all kinds of firms up and down the country, regardless of the risk.

 

*Remember folks, living in a slum dwelling makes you a criminal, owning several of them and doing nothing towards their upkeep makes you an entrepreneur. 

CremeCaramel 12 November 21 09:40

"If any of you are asked to do something which you have concerns about, please do not hesitate to bring it to our attention", she added in her message to the trainees.

 

Yes, because trainees are obviously empowered to raise concerns with their seniors. Completely inappropriate to put the onus on trainees to police this culture.

The B.S.B. 12 November 21 09:41

Poor show.

One cannot help but think that a pupil barrister would have dealt with this with considerably more aplomb.

There's a clear difference in class.

Gobblepig 12 November 21 09:49

Presumably the firm did not comment because it was in the process of finding a trainee who'd be willing to have a wee friendly chat with the press on its behalf. 

Lydia 12 November 21 10:01

It possible they had no idea there would be trouble so it was more like a drop this through a letter box and stick something to 4 doors kind of task however.

Anon 12 November 21 10:04

I was once asked to personally serve an eviction notice on a group of travellers on the Mecca Bingo car park in Newcastle. It didn't go down well. 

Anonymous 12 November 21 10:16

It may be useful for trainees with black belt kick boxing or any other type martial art to do this type of work. 

pumpkin 12 November 21 10:19

Anyone remember Enforcer from the discussion board, years past - bailiff turned barrister, I think he was?  I remember his top tip being to use a pen to ring the doorbell in case there were pins positioned to dig into your finger. Just passing it on for any other T&H unfortunates out there.

Ex housing association head of legal 12 November 21 11:04

Aye.  Think of the thousands of housing officers who do just this every single day.  Almost always alone.  There will be a risk assessment somewhere.  Which will conclude that they'll be fine so long as they remain situationally aware, have been to a ten minute training on lone working and wield their "people safe" or similar tracking device which dials in to the office should they not report back in half an hour or so.  Not a lot of comfort in that.  Much less well paid.  

 

I do think this is very wrong but do be aware front line workers are walking into lord knows what every single day. 

Fred 12 November 21 11:12

There seems to have been no reason to think these squatters were dangerous. Most squatters I have known were perfectly nice people, though clearly these turned out not to be.

I served loads of court papers on people during my training contact, and you had to have your wits about you. But I struggle to see why this is a scandal unless some crucial facts are missing.

former prop lit trainee 12 November 21 11:24

The firm I trained at had a policy for trainees and paralegals serving notices/proceedings by hand. Any potential for an incident - use bailiffs or if not possible, send two people. A prohibition on sending out people from the firm at night. People going out to serve notices always need a fully charged phone to call for help etc. It’s really not that difficult. Shockingly poor from such a big firm.

 

Tristan 12 November 21 11:25

I had to serve squatters during my training contract, luckily my squatters were out so got away with taping a notice to the door. I have mixed feelings about trainees being asked to do this - my experience I was genuinely somewhat nervous / excited about doing it. But that said it is now probably the most memorable experience of my training contract and the story I tell when talking about my training contract experience. I think on balance it is OK for firms to ask for people to volunteer to do this (as was the case here), and make clear if they don't want to do it there is absolutely no judgment or pressure to do so. Some people will genuinely want to do it and enjoy the experience.

Anonymous 12 November 21 12:10

As a trainee in the mid 90's, it was par for the course to be put into potentially hazardous situations. I recall serving orders with penal notices/injunctions on a regular basis. My favourite was being met at a farm by a man threatening to 'set his geese' on me whilst waving a frying pan in my face

T 12 November 21 12:47

Unbelievably reckless! Lucky he wasn’t stabbed or seriously hurt sending him alone to that part of town. Let’s see what the SRA do about this…

YB 12 November 21 12:56

I was once asked to unblock the men's toilets with a coat hanger on my first day at a new firm. I'm a woman. No way was I doing that under any circumstances. Did stay at that awful, dodgy firm very long.

Brown brogues are fine 12 November 21 13:35

The trainee has a claim against the firm but what good would that do? They’d get a payout and would then have to find another training contract 

Toby Greenlord, Fremen on the Dune 12 November 21 13:44

I was sent for a long weight and a box of left-handed biro's.

It was sometime during my second day outside the Office Manger's office that I came up with the principles that led to the Freeman on the Land movement and solved the television licence crisis.

I sometimes wonder what innovations I might have brought to the profession if I'd decided to stay. Alas your loss has been the Magistrate's Court's gain.

I also wonder if my supervisor ever got her biros, but not so often.

Yikes 12 November 21 14:39

When I was a trainee at Slaughters, I was once asked to hand deliver a document to a non-Magic Circle lawyer.  

Anon 12 November 21 14:55

This is nothing.  As a trainee, I was made to go to Blackpool County Court.  I sometimes still wake up with night sweats thinking about it.

Slaughter 12 November 21 15:08

Sorry to see the plight of our neighbours.

Some things I had to do as a trainee:

1) go to the Rolls building with some bundles and deal with a snotty clerk;

2) agree who would cover the "evening to 3am shift" and who would cover the "3am to morning shift" (trick question - it was the all nighter shift and the all nighter shift);

3) receive a heavy mark-up on some poor drafting on which I'd spent hours;

4) eat over-buttered carrots in the canteen 5 evenings a week for a month; and

5) pretend a sociopath partner was funny and interesting during a  social event.

Anonymous 12 November 21 17:17

As a trainee they made us do the court counter runs.

The girl who worked there was gorgeous.

Best 6 months of my life.

 

Anonymous 12 November 21 19:54

Trainees are disposable. They're not even people. We must protect the partners at all costs.

Anonymous 13 November 21 01:04

Fuck me. And all we did at your age was risk our lives trying to stop ethnic nationalists, genocide, ba'thist psychopaths, tribal nutjobs and general fundamentalist maniacs from killing everyone around them and in their way.

I am truly humbled by your flabby white collar sacrifice.

Thank you for your service!

Been there…….. 13 November 21 09:32

I remember as a trainee ( unique in this era as I had a 10 year career elsewhere beforehand and a 4 year child). A partner said “ you live in #blah, would you mind dropping this letter off” as it was after 5pm I assumed he had merely missed the post. Hence relaxed summer evenings walk to said address with child n dog….. you know what’s coming! Never again errands for the real estate ( or then they were still property litigation team ) 🤦‍♀️

Anonymous 13 November 21 18:29

Delivering a complaint letter to a utility company addressed to the CEO to the registered office that was round the corner, I suppose it taught me how to get past building security etc.

Tolby Greenhouse, Fremen on the Worm 13 November 21 19:15

biro's?

Manger?

Think I've had too much White Lightening

Nell 14 November 21 08:59

 Totally wrong some idiot (but Note not authorised by a partner!) in Brum office randomly sent a trainee contrary to firm’s policies.

But tbh (1)”Hackney after dark” is probably exactly where same trainee would go to a trendy bar to meet their friends for cocktails and (2)my gen of trainees/articled clerks served loads of writs in the 90s but then maybe that’s legal industry equivalent of sending children up chimneys!
 

Really hate classist way RoF writes!

Pie 14 November 21 11:56

I don’t think the Real Estate at Trowers will be told off… they sent him there…this is classic Trowers. Poor trainee

Anonymouse 15 November 21 13:13

This is precisely the sort of thing that the SRA should get involved in. They are meant to be effectively monitoring the supervision and safety of trainee solicitors, especially in circumstances where the trainee is stuck between suing his employer and destroying his career or just ‘sucking it up’.

Instead they are more likely to prosecute the trainee for leaving the file unattended on the floor whilst he was getting a kicking.

Anon 16 November 21 04:48

On a general note, what is the RE team of Trowers Birmingham office like...in terms of current and previous leadership..is this conduct indicative of the culture and  partners (old and new) in the team?

incakenito 17 November 21 12:30

Poor guy. 
 

In my first seat I was told to get some documents signed by some construction bod at a well known sw**ky restaurant in Mayfair. I arrived and there were about five rich, fat and utterly battered middle aged men who told me to sit down and do shots with them before they signed the papers. They were crude and lecherous and after a lot of talk about their helicopters and private jets and a bit of nervous laughter from myself I got the documents signed and left. When I told the partner on my return he did say “with hindsight that was a terrible idea”. He apologised. 

Anon 17 November 21 21:52

Trowers' HR and General Counsel and Risk team downvoting the comments on here lol

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