The traits Gateley actually specifies are: Ambition, Commerciality, Vision, Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and Strong academics.
Gateley has tapped into the power of family and awarded a training contract to the niece of its Chief Operating Officer.
The listed law firm offers 28 training contracts per year, but unlike many firms it does not place a bar on close family relations of its leadership team taking one of its sought after TCs.
Such a prohibition prevents a firm and the trainee from having to deal with perceptions of bias and nepotism, and from being dogged by questions around the legitimacy of their achievement.
A growing number of firms go further and impose a blind CV policy in an attempt to minimise the impact of bias, whether conscious or unconscious, in their recruitment processes.
Victoria Garrad, Gateley’s COO and an employment partner, would have been especially alive to the issues involved given her former role as the group’s HR director, which she held for five years before she joined the plc board last May.
Her niece has a CV which would impress at many firms. The trainee took a first in her law degree at Nottingham Trent University, and has spent the last two years working part-time as a paralegal at a smaller firm.
During her aunt’s tenure as head of HR, she also managed to get on two vacation schemes, both at Gateley.
A spokesperson for Gateley told ROF that their COO's niece “came through the application and interview process in the same way as all of our graduate applicants and Victoria was not, at any stage, involved in the reviewing, interviewing or selection process and this was undertaken in the usual way by an independent panel”.
Some may query how independent a panel can appear when tasked with assessing a relation of their boss, even if, as a source close to management maintained, the candidate “exceeded our baseline entry requirements” and was “selected entirely on her own merits”.