Goose trainee

"There was no mention of this in Chitty on Contracts"

Lawyers have recalled the worst jobs they were forced to do as trainees, offering their experiences like a crappy corporate badge of honour.

The disclosures were prompted by a recent story about a Trowers & Hamlins trainee who was assaulted after the firm sent him to confront squatters alone.

One lawyer recounted an equally dangerous mission they were handed as a trainee: "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."

Another lawyer was instructed "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." 

One lawyer reeled off a list of humiliating, but possibly character-building tasks, that they had to undertake as a trainee:

"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) Take two Korean businessmen 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)."

And some tasks are beyond the pale, as one lawyer remembered: "When I was a trainee at Slaughters, I was once asked to hand deliver a document to a non-Magic Circle lawyer."

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Hackaforte 03 December 21 08:42

“Facilitation payments”? 

Surely you can think of a better euphemism than that?

Gobblepig 03 December 21 09:30

@hackaforte. Clearly defined terms are key. I would characterise this as a "bootleg remuneration incentive before engagement" payment. 

Anonymous 03 December 21 11:00

Was sent in to handle a 15 party litigation as third party.  Partner and senior associate were a pile of shit and hospital passed it to me. 

Liability claim and counterclaim.

We wanted 50k and walked away owing them 200k.

Great day. 

Alwyne 03 December 21 11:09

Cleaned the ice off a partner’s car windscreen (with my own credit card) during a rural planning inquiry.

Was the “Robust” trainee requested to accompany a timid client to a meeting with a debtor in Islington.  

Bogmanstar 03 December 21 11:33

Got a call early on a Saturday in 1993 to my apt in W2.  Equity partner.  "You live near the landowners office, don't you?   I wonder could you nip in and get a letter out of a file?  [Describes letter].  Fax it to me as soon as you get it.". 

Sigh.  Oh well, 20 minutes on the Central Line from Lancaster Gate, riffle through a file, extract letter and fax same.  Bonus brownie points etc. 

Get to firm's door.  Taxi waiting for me. Took me to a former WW2 underground bomb shelter in N central London.  Camden I think.  

A bloodless character ushered me to a service lift with metal bars.  When the lift stopped, he showed me several corridors. All stacked high with boxes of documents.  

The corridors were the "file" lol.  

In the end, I never found the letter, but I spent the entire weekend looking for it.  The dust. The sneezing.  The paper cuts.  

Oh the glamour

Anonymous 03 December 21 12:03

Any chance of crunching the numbers in this year’s ROF survey so we know the best / worst firm to be a trainee at? 

Anonymous 03 December 21 12:47

I once had to eat a whole poo with one of those plastic spoons that they give to toddlers.

They told me that it was an experiment to test the plausibility that something one of our key witnesses had said in their statement. But it transpired that it was all just a cruel hoax because they wanted to watch an innocent victim suffer. Also, possibly some kind of voyeurism angle.

The whole thing! With a spoon!


Anyway, I'm an NQ there now so the vast wads of cash help me to pay for the counselling. I still eat soup with a fork though.

Hackaforte 03 December 21 14:28


It could also be a Bilateral Agreement (Known Sterling Handler) Enhanced Effectiveness Surety Hedge payment

Eggery 03 December 21 15:18

Just one moment 12.47. I have some questions:

1. How much persuasion did it take exactly?

2. Why all of it?

3. What did it taste like?


Anonymous 03 December 21 16:27

Personal injury case - a client alleged that a petrol station in a remote part of Essex had failed to properly clear ice from the forecourt floor, and he had driven in, stepped out of his car and slipped over. The garage said that it was impossible for ice to form on the forecourt floor as it was covered. 

Partner emailed the trainees when temperatures below freezing were forecasted asking for a volunteer to go to Essex, stay in a Premier Inn down the road from the garage, and get a taxi down there at midnight, 2 am and 4am to take photos and see if ice formed on the forecourt. As a sweetener, he said he’d see about the lucky volunteer coming into work a bit later than 9am the following day. 

No volunteers (obviously), and the partner had the audacity to get shirty about work ethic when a female trainee pointed out that she wouldn’t be comfortable hanging out at a garage in the middle of nowhere on her own at 2am.


Anonymous 05 December 21 09:40

Was handed a case about 2 weeks before trial. It was a neighbour dispute.

The former fee earners was qualified but useless. I had to make an application to amend to include a case in nuisance and amazingly these amendments were allowed on the morning of the trial.

Worst part was the previous fee earner had agreed to a single joint expert.

The SJE was good friends with the defendant. Went to the same place of worship and from the same community. 

The defendant was hit with a bus and died shortly before the trial and the SJE saw this as some sort of legacy case to honour his memory and do his best. 

Our client was in and out of hospital caring for her dying father and had to fit court around visits. 

Took a hard L.  Lucky we only lost out on £17k of costs in hindsight. 

Partner and senior associate threw me under the bus. 

Anonymouse 07 December 21 20:44

Had to serve papers at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris. First class Eurostar ticket, day trip. I had just moved house and had mislaid my passport. Feigned illness for two days while the deadline loomed ever-closer, had panic attacks and nearly broke down turning my new home upside down before locating passport in laptop case where it had been put needless to say for safe keeping. I look back fondly of course, but it was HORRIBLE.

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