muslim law student

"Yeah yeah and I'm the King of Sweden, here you go, they won't mop themselves."

Freshfields has reiterated that it values diversity after one of its employees allegedly mistook a Muslim student for a cleaner.

The law student is from a BAME background and was visiting Freshfields' London office for a student event. Despite wearing Student Access ID she was "initially confused with being a cleaner", said a source.

She was then asked if she wanted to "take off her thing", in an apparent reference to her headscarf, and hang it up in the cloakroom, said a source.

RollOnFriday understands the firm did not receive an official complaint. A spokesperson for Freshfields said, "We take workplace inclusivity very seriously and all matters that are brought to the attention of the firm are considered in detail. The firm is committed to ensuring a culture of respect, where diversity is valued and people feel they belong and can thrive".

Freshfields wouldn't be the first firm to trip over its well-meaning embrace of diversity - in 2012 a schoolgirl on a Hogan Lovells work experience programme was found laying out tea and biscuits in a the meeting rooms after she got lost in the building and a catering manager mistook her for a waitress.

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Anonymous 26 November 21 09:40

This is very sad and unsurprising. At firms I’ve been at often the only people of colour other than me are the cleaning staff. Whom the bulk of the lawyers and secretaries will avoid speaking to or won’t engage. Not surprising that people will see another brown face and think “oh it’s just that cleaner”. 

Anon 26 November 21 09:48

And I was once mistaken for the defendant at a magistrates court. I got over it.

Anonymous 26 November 21 10:13

Without wanting to undermine Question Man's usual role - is this story one that actually happened?

There was a thread on the forum earlier in the week alleging it did (from an anon one-post account), everybody there said that it sounded very vague and in some parts implausible, and now there's an 'Exclusive' article which gives no details of the event in question, or the complainant, and which notes that no official complaint has actually been made to the firm.

It's an unusually extreme lack of detail or specificity, even for this kind of story.



Is RoF sure that it isn't being given the wind up here?

Gravy 26 November 21 10:22

10:13 I can understand why a student might not want to make an official complaint, especially if the staff member was apologetic etc. That's a big step to take against your hopeful future employer.

Anonymous 26 November 21 10:30

@Gravy - sure, but compare and contrast the reticence of the alleged complainant to make a formal complaint to their 'hopeful future employer', with their seeming enthusiasm for telling the press all about them (both directly to the editor, and to the forum of users). It's just another bit of the story that doesn't quite add up.

Anonymous 26 November 21 10:32

I think it's outrageous that anybody is doubting this poor, brave, young woman's account.

I was there and I saw it go down. So I can confirm that it happened. 

She was shooed out of the building and whipped with a string of sausages as she went. It was a disgrace!



Cannot be sure of the contents of said sausages, they may have been vegan, lots of them are these days, but the symbolism of the gesture was very clear.

Anonymous 26 November 21 10:33

But pretty wild to ask her to remove her hijab? Grossly offensive in any context.

Gannicus 26 November 21 10:35

I see the Abaya became a hijab…


Anonymous 26 November 21 10:38

It's entirely plausible some one in facilities clocked them for a cleaner. Why are people surprised? Young person in the corridor, too junior to be lawyer, looks confused - you can imagine how someone could make the assumption. 

Lord Lester 26 November 21 10:52

I've always thought that Freshfields was a top-notch firm myself...


By the by, but I thought I'd mention it.

Victimhood is not a currency 26 November 21 11:03

Key words are "allegedly" and "the firm did not receive an official complaint". I've been mistaken for a supermarket worker many times and I'm a qualified solicitor. I got over it.

Unwalt 26 November 21 11:05

If someone grossly misinterprets your role in a social context, the other person may not very perceptive and/or you may have dressed or behaved inappropriately for your role. Most of the time, it's both.

Apart from that, it is self evident that you should treat all staff with the same sincerity and decency as you would anyone else. If I were to mistake a cleaner for an equity partner during small talk, nobody would notice.

Anon 26 November 21 11:26

I've been mistaken for a partner at my firm for years now. I never made a fuss like some, although the money softens the blow I suppose.  

Lydia 26 November 21 11:27

Poor her. Everyone should be careful how they deal with others. I was only 21 and was married when I started my training contract and qualified at 23 having already had a baby during my TC. I was probably different from the others. I was often the youngest at everything although in my case having childcare, buying a house etc I had a lot in common with older lawyers so I suppose could bond over that. Anyway the bottom line is you never know if that person cleaning the floors is the CEO in disguise and even if it is not treat everyone well.


I have however often been asked where things are in shops as I must look like a member of staff and have even played along and taken people to where the goods are.

Wombats of Doom 26 November 21 11:33

This didnt happen

Managing partner of national firm 26 November 21 12:20

I often get mistaken for someone who is competent to tie his own shoelaces. God knows how I got away with it for so long.

blog 26 November 21 12:51

Some of the comments on here are quite astonishing. I flagged up the issue on the discussion board and subsequently to the news team. 

Yes it was my first (and possibly last) post. That doesn't mean it was fabricated.

The lack of detail was to try to keep the student out of the spot light given her ambitions but at the same time seeking to raise this serious matter.

She didn't complain but rather went to the toilets where she cried before composing herself and returning to the event.  

Plausible to mistake her for a cleaner? She was wearing an ID badge! Don't think it had the word 'cleaner' emblazoned on it. 

The incident was noticed by a separate Freshfields' employee of colour who was shocked at the treatment, but seemingly did nothing about it. 

Anonymous 26 November 21 14:22

Well this is all getting more plausible by the moment...

Good of 'blog' to chip in to tell us that this isn't even a story that we're getting first-hand, but rather it's one from an aggrieved bystander who has taken it upon themselves to take offence on the "victim's" behalf.

Also, and get this, just in case we were all a bit sceptical about the lack of corroborating evidence - a new eyewitness enters! Like, not one that was mentioned previously on either occasion that 'blog' brought this story up, and not one who actually took any kind of demonstrable action. But there was definitely another bystander, of colour no less, who saw the whole thing.

Yes, this is totally passing the smell test.

Anonymous 26 November 21 15:06

Freshfield's PR team earning their crust on the bulletin boards today I see.

US SA 26 November 21 16:08

Quite sad to see this comments on here. Being apologists for unacceptable behaviour. I feel sorry for this young lady.  What a welcome to the legal profession. Sadly, she will be very much an outsider in the legal profession (particularly as a Muslim woman), which has a long way to go. Not only at Freshfields, but the individuals commenting on here it would seem. Shameful.  

Anonymous 26 November 21 18:02

Quite right US SA.

Not only is this poor woman struggling to overcome the twin injustices of being both female and Muslim, she's also the victim of a more insidious intersectional oppression on top of that which I think a lot of people commenting here haven't recognised or thought of.

People commenting on this thread should put themselves in her shoes for a few moments and think how hard they would find it to attend a Freshfields event if they were totally imaginary.

It's called empathy.

Anon 26 November 21 18:12

Middle class generally racist 

T Pot 26 November 21 18:35

People often say I dont look like a solicitor.

Anonymous 26 November 21 18:39

@10.13 - it is quite correct to question allegations given the huge amount of false allegations made.

Anon 27 November 21 07:05

Anonymous 26 November 21 18:39: yes, important to question, but not in the perverse, bad faith manner in which you do so.

Anonymous 27 November 21 21:46

@7.05 - no questions are perverse or in bad faith when the aim is to determine whether or not an allegation is true. Sounds as if the one acting in a perverse and bad faith manner is you!! 

anon-y-mous 28 November 21 09:16

There are a lot of angry gammons in the comments...

Anon 28 November 21 09:17

Anonymous 27 November 21 21:46: but your aim is not to determine whether or not an allegation is true. That is why you ask peverse, bad faith questions.

Yes 28 November 21 09:19

Anon 27 November 21 07:05: you are speaking for us all. Question Man really is an annoying creep.

N/A 28 November 21 20:06

Not very surprising. Racism in law firms is pretty rife. Having been in practice for over 20 years you only have to look at the BAME representation at partnership and senior levels to demonstrate this. 


Anonymous 29 November 21 07:54

28th @ 9.19 - what's annoying about asking questions to separate fact from fiction?

Anon 29 November 21 13:15

Anonymous 29 November 21 07:54: nothing wrong with asking questions to separate fact from fiction. But that is not Question Man’s agenda - which is merely to spread a bad faith, perverse narrative.

Anonymous 29 November 21 15:25

Is Question Man the problem, or are the people who can't help themselves from compulsively engaging with Question Man's every single comment the problem?


You aren't stuck in traffic. You are the traffic.

Anonymous 29 November 21 15:27

@13.15 - but asking questions to separate fact from fiction can never be 'spreading a bad faith, perverse narrative'.

Anonymous 29 November 21 16:35

28th @ 9.17 - you want to make dubious allegations and not be challenged about them. That's why you accuse those who call you out of being 'perverse' and 'bad faith'.

What's a 'peverse' question?

Anon 29 November 21 20:32

Anonymous 29 November 21 15:27: but Question Man does not ask questions to separate fact from fiction. He asks questions to peddle a perverse, bad faith agenda.

Anon 29 November 21 20:38

Anonymous 29 November 21 16:35: anyone who makes dubious allegations should be questioned. But Question Man does not have a legitimate interest in exposing such allegations. He asks perverse questions to further his own bad faith narrative.

A perverse question is a question which is perverse: namely, a question which demonstrates an obstinate refusal to be reasonable. Like asking what is a perverse question.

Ted 29 November 21 20:39

Anonymous 29 November 21 15:25 - so true. We should all just ignore him. He’s clearly a weird loser.

Anon 30 November 21 06:53

Anonymous 29 November 21 16:35: what dubious allegations?

Anonymous 30 November 21 07:17

29th @ 15.25 - agreed, the real problem is not the questioning of allegations to see whether or not they are true. The real problem is Anti-Question Woman not wanting questions to be asked.

Anonymous 30 November 21 10:27

Personally, I would define a 'perverse question' as one that was asked with perverse intent.

So, something like, "What are you wearing?" followed by some heavy panting, for example.

On the assumption of course that the questioner was not involved in some mutually agreed game that involved guessing the dress of other participants in that game (possibly involving a blindfold, like in marco-polo, or some other similar schoolyard game) alongside the performance of light to vigorous physical activity that would account for the panting.

That would be a very good example of a perverse question.

I hope clarifies things substantially and puts the matter to bed.

Anonymous 30 November 21 11:18

Anonymous 29 November 21 15:27:but any questions about unsubstantiated allegations are questions to separate fact from fiction and can never be 'spreading a bad faith, perverse narrative'.

Anonymous 30 November 21 11:22

Anon 29 November 21 20:38: anyone questioning dubious allegations has a legitimate interest in doing so.

The question is what is a 'peverse' question, not what is a 'perverse' question?

Anonymous 30 November 21 11:31

@Ted - says Ted, not ignoring them and commenting. They're clearly a weird loser.

Anonymous 30 November 21 11:32

Anon 30 November 21 06:53 - unsubstantiated ones.

Anonymous 30 November 21 15:14

@10.27 - thanks, all that remains is to find out what a 'peverse' question is.

Anon 30 November 21 15:43

Anonymous 29 November 21 15:25: agreed. Best not to feed the troll.


anon 30 November 21 15:44

Anonymous 30 November 21 07:17: agreed that the real problem is Question Man and his perverse, bad faith questions. 

Every Commenter On RoF 01 December 21 13:40

I'm glad that we've all agreed that everyone else's posts here are annoying bad-faith spam, but that mine are intelligent and informative additions to the discussion.

Next week you can all just save yourself the trouble and can passively receive my correct opinions without feeling the need to tediously contradict them.

Which you only do in bad faith because you are a troll.

Not because I am a know-nothing moron who believes blatantly ridiculous things I hear simply because they accord with my worldview.

tofu 02 December 21 13:43

i have a double barrel chinese name and sadly more often than not, MC lawyers always misspell or only refer to one part of my name. rarely get this issue with other firms so idk if MC firms just need to force everyone to do D&I training

Yawn 02 December 21 21:26

Damn, white fragility is alive and well looking at these dumbass comments 

Anonymous 03 December 21 07:22

Anonymous 30 November 21 11:22 - spot on.

Anon 03 December 21 15:40

anon 30 November 21 15:44: exactly.

Anonymous 04 December 21 00:42

@Yawn - what is 'white fragility'?

And what are 'peverse' questions?

Anonymous 04 December 21 00:42

Anon 30 November 21 15:43 - says you, trolling.

Anonymous 04 December 21 00:44

anon 30 November 21 15:44 and anonymous 30 November 21 07:17: agreed that the real problem is Anto Question Woman and her perverse, bad faith attempts to shut down questions. 

Anonymous 04 December 21 00:45

Every Commenter On RoF 01 December 21 13:40 - absolutely right.

Anonymous 07 December 21 07:24

Anon 30 November 21 15:43 - says you, trolling.

Anonymous 07 December 21 07:27

30th November @ 15.44: agreed that the real problem is anti-question woman trying to shut down questions.

What is a 'peverse' question?

Anon 08 December 21 17:36

Anon 30 November 21 15:43: correct.

Anon 09 December 21 05:46

Anon 29 November 21 20:32: yes. He has not grasped an important rule of advocacy, which is not to let your personality get in the way of your argument. As a result, he is known as Question Man and people focus on that, rather than the substance of what he is saying. A massive own goal.

Anonymous 10 December 21 07:18

Anonymous 07 December 21 07:27 - spot on.

Anonymous 10 December 21 07:20

9th @ 5.46 - massive own goal to be known as anti question wiman for trying to shut down questions.

What is a 'peverse' question?

Anon 10 December 21 09:00

Anon 09 December 21 05:46: correct. Which is a shame, as he may have something convincing to say, but nobody pays any attention.

Nick 10 December 21 09:01

Anonymous 10 December 21 07:20 - what is a "wiman"?

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