pwfh ruse

They started to get cocky by the third lockdown.

Dentons has "taken appropriate steps" after discovering that one of its partners has been in a secret long-term relationship with his associate.

The pair have been a couple for several years, according to a source, and even own a house together. But they kept their relationship hidden from the whole department and the firm. RollOnFriday is protecting their identities.

"They are very much a normal couple but do not want the company to know", said an insider.

Lockdown posed a problem for the clandestine couple, but they managed to pull the wool over their colleagues' webcams by attending virtual meetings while sitting in separate rooms of their house. 

The charade fell apart when somebody snitched to the firm this week.

Using the pseudonym John Smith, the informant emailed the firm to say that the relationship's secrecy was "completely unethical" because the partner conducted appraisals for the associate. In the correspondence, seen by RollOnFriday, 'Smith' told the firm that the partner's high scores resulted in his girlfriend receiving pay rises, while others in the department who were of equal merit "may not have". 

But Smith only informed on the lovers after the firm began a redundancy consultation and they feared for their job. Smith told the firm that there was "no doubt" the partner would score the associate highly in the consultation, and that "I have no doubt that someone will be made redundant or pushed into a role that they do not want" because of the partner's scoring of the associate.

"This matter needs addressing", added the employee, as "I do not want to be pushed out unless this process is entirely legitimate". 

Dentons told RollOnFriday in a statement that it "immediately took steps to confirm the position with the individuals concerned" after receiving Smith's email. 

The firm said it also "reconvened" the partners, "excluding the concerned partner", to "conduct a final moderation of the scoring process relating to the redundancy exercise". The result confirmed the original outcome, and "as such we are satisfied that all of our processes have been robust and fair throughout", said the firm. 

Dentons also concluded that all of the partner's appraisals of his girlfriend, and her pay rises, were fair. Maybe more than fair!

"We have also taken appropriate steps to ensure that the circumstances are being formally managed in accordance with our policies", added the firm. 

Tip Off ROF


. 14 February 21 21:38

There will always be a presumption that the associate girlfriend benefitted from this relationship professionally at the expense of others. Both are tainted by this sorry mess unfortunately. 

I think the conduct of this couple crosses the line given the redundancies (past and present) and I dont their actions can be overlooked by senior management regardless of whether the partner is a rainmaker or not. 

Car crash tv. 


Pragmatist 14 February 21 22:45

Understand why people want to keep personal life private. It probably says a lot about lack of confidence in HR keeping the relationship confidential that they didn’t disclose. However, non-disclosure in the circumstances shows a lack of integrity - really Dentons HR and management how can that just be brushed away and not affect the review?

General anonymous 15 February 21 10:50

Fundamentally it’s quite disgraceful to continue a professional relationship whilst pursuing a secret romance on the side in the work place.

This is even worse in the context of one person being a senior partner and the other starting out as a junior associate and progressing off the back of her romance. Irrespective of whether she is good at job or not - it’s clearly unethical and unfair to be rewarded by the same partner you are pursing a relationship with on the side.

If either of them were decent people they would have admitted things early on so things could be managed fairly internally but they chose to hide it for their own benefit. There is a complete lack of regard for doing the right thing here. 





Anonymous 15 February 21 12:30

Surely this kind of thing could be ended by introducing a simple rule like: If you shag one of the juniors, then you have to shag all of them. No exceptions.


Job done.

Thank me later, Freshfields.

Anonymous 15 February 21 13:07

12.30 - makes about as much sense as a rule which says if you shag one of ghe partners you have to share all of them.

Anon 15 February 21 13:11

just says so much for integrity and honesty of Dentons and the two individuals who ought to be reported to the SRA. I wonder of that will happen. 

Anonymous 15 February 21 13:50

Easily fixed.

Sack the cheeky couple for their cowardly conduct. Then sack John Smith for telling tales... or rather manage them out given the presumably poor performance that led to him/her(they?) being worried about the redundancy axe falling near them in the first place.

Also, no one likes a snitch...

Anonymous 15 February 21 14:39

13.11 - reported to the SRA for what?

There's more chance of John Smith being reported to the SRA for reporting this.

A quartermiler 15 February 21 14:50

Wait til ROF find out about the mess in the Edinburgh office!!!!  
How much management and senior partner incompetence can one firm tolerate?

Anonymous 15 February 21 15:59

"Fundamentally it’s quite disgraceful to continue a professional relationship whilst pursuing a secret romance on the side in the work place."


Wait, stop a moment, what exactly is everyone else doing with their working days? 

I'm reading the words you have written, but it sounds like a broadcast from another planet. A parallel universe that bears almost no relation to my own.

Dentons Senior Assoc 15 February 21 16:45

Anonymous 15 February 21 14:39: there is no chance that John Smith would be reported to the SRA, given that, as I explained above (14 February 21 12:29), he was found by my firm to have behaved entirely properly and without malice.

Anon 15 February 21 17:43

16.45 - but didn't your firm also find "that all of the partner's appraisals of his girlfriend, and her pay rises, were fair" and "that all of our processes have been robust and fair throughout"?

Anon 15 February 21 18:08

The sad thing from this all is that I wouldnt be surprised if the girlfriend associate was infact capable. However, she will always be regarded by her team and others in the firm as the one who slept with her boss to climb the career ladder. That's just the nasty reality when things like this get out. 

She had everything to gain from this secrecy. He didnt. In fact he had much to loose - clearly. 

Anon 15 February 21 18:34

The couple could be reported to the SRA for the lack of integrity shown by deceptively keeping secret their relationship and thereby maintaining a situation which amounted to a conflict of interest.

Anon. 15 February 21 20:00

If it's fine for this couple not to disclose their relationship, as a few people seem to think, then what is the point of rules against conflict of interest? Don't many conflicts of interest involve an element of someone's private life that must nevertheless be declared? The relationship on its own isn't the problem - lots of people meet partners / have affairs at work. It's the context that makes it unethical. If you can't see that then you lack the critical thinking skills necessary to be a competent lawyer. 

It would be nice if we could all simply trust each other not to let any conflicts affect our professional behaviour, without requiring them to be declared, but unfortunately that isn't how things work. 

Dentons have determined that appraisals and promotions were fair. Assuming that their assessment is accurate, did they check whether the relationship affected work allocation (e.g. was the associate given higher-profile work by the partner than other associates?) and level of supervision? That could have indirectly led to better appraisals/promotions, which would be very unfair on other associates. 

If the associate is of sufficient calibre to succeed on her own then why couldn't she have worked for someone else? 

That said, from experience, this couple and their lack of scruples probably fit in well in Dentons. I'm sure they are trying to convince themselves that their sense of entitlement is warranted. 

Anonymous 15 February 21 20:32

Lovebirds, you're not doing yourself any favours with these sock puppet comments trying to deflect blame on the whistleblower.

You erred in judgement. You shouldn't have lied. It might well have been the case there was no actual bias, but your dishonesty has justifiably called this into question.

It's pretty hypocritical to be appealling to concerns about your mental health whilst at the same time attacking the person who called you out on your deception.

Own what you've done.

Gasping for air 15 February 21 21:59

This car crash sounds like something out of Eastenders. Well done Dentons, very entertaining!

Anonymous 16 February 21 07:42

Anonymous 12 February 21 09:39

Not the only firm this has happened at.


Cough. Sounds like a furniture store. 

Allied Carpets?

Didtheyreallydothis? 16 February 21 07:56

I am aware of these two individuals and now have zero respect for either.

Kept up the charade for years whilst the Dentons team has gone through numerous redundancies is unacceptable. You cannot justify or overlook that. If they are not subject to disciplinary action then it goes to show you can do anything you want at Dentons and get away with it. 

The integrity and honesty of your lawyers is more important than money. 

Anonymous 16 February 21 09:07

Have worked at a firm where this happened. 

Associate starts sleeping with the partner and she then got fast tracked through to partner before he managed her out and replaced her with a younger model. Later discovered he had previous for doing it. 

Anonymous 16 February 21 09:27

15th @ 20.32 - John Smith, you're not doing yourself any favours with these sock puppet comments trying to deflect blame from the malicious complaint.

A further malucious complaint doesn't make the first one right.

Anonymous 16 February 21 09:58

Just out of interest, what is it that people are proposing reporting John Smith to the SRA for exactly?

Which one of the code of conduct principles is it that you think he is in breach of? I'm genuinely curious.


"Dear SRA,

I have become aware that John Smith made a report to his HR department which contained entirely accurate and factual information. Worse still, despite being a solicitor, he made that complaint thinking that it would ensure that a HR process was carried out in accordance with the law (or, at worst, that it would verify that it had been carried out in such a fashion).

Perhaps most shockingly of all, he did all of the above while thinking that his employer's compliance with the relevant law would be in his own best interests as an employee, rather than irrationally making a complaint in the belief that it would cause him personal harm.

Clearly this is a scandal that requires your urgent attention. My view is that only a strike off is appropriate.


Toby Greenloop of Lester"

Anon 16 February 21 10:19

Would Dentons have had actually done anything if this did not break in the media? I doubt it. 

Anonymous 16 February 21 15:49

9.58 - John Smith could be reported to the SRA if his complaint was malicious. Honesty and integrity and all that. I wouldn't advise anyone to make a malicious complaint and think they can't be reported to the SRA.

Anonymous 17 February 21 07:27

This comes across as more John Smith's fault than that of the partner or associate.

Anon 17 February 21 10:43

Ok so john smith was in a relationship with the associate and was appraising her, overseeing promotions, pay, redundancy process and kept it that conflict of interest a secret from his team for years. Hu???

Did not realise that john smith was the equity partner in this situation!

Dentons Senior Assoc 17 February 21 11:39

Anonymous 16 February 21 09:27; Anonymous 16 February 21 15:49; and Anonymous 17 February 21 07:27: as I explained above (14 February 21 12:29) and later repeated (15 February 21 16:45), John Smith was found by my firm to have behaved entirely properly and without malice.

Lord Lester QC 17 February 21 11:42

Dentons should get in touch with me and I can arrange for the partner and his girlfriend to be given a peerage.

Anon 17 February 21 11:46

This comes across as more the fault of the partner and associate than that of John Smith.

Anonymous 17 February 21 13:42

John Smith would be well advised to circulate his CV to other firms as it sounds like that team has issues.

Anonymous 17 February 21 13:52

@15:49 - I'm struggling to see how making a factually accurate complaint to a HR manager, which related to a process that the employer had a duty to carry out in accordance with the law, could be construed as either dishonest or as demonstrating a lack of integrity in a solicitor.

Even if John Smith hated both of the individuals in question - how does that make him dishonest or lacking integrity for telling his HR team objectively true facts relevant to the perceived impartiality of the firm's ongoing redundancy process?

Could you break your reasoning down for me a bit?

Or, are there any precedent SRA decisions that you could steer me to to help me to understand your thinking here?

The SRA thing just sounds like a bit of a limp, empty threat that is based on nothing more than wishful thinking.

Anonymous 17 February 21 13:55

@09:07 - getting a little bit aroused just thinking about it.

That's a big league power trip fantasy that most of us will only be able to dream about.

Cleanup in Aisle 9 please.

Anon 17 February 21 15:20

What’s the latest on this then?

Presumably the partner at least has been escorted away from his virtual desk!!??

John smith junior 17 February 21 18:05

Anonymous 16 February 21 15:49

perhaps you misunderstand the meaning of the word ‘malicious’?

clearly John Smith reported something that was factually accurate. 

The ethics and integrity of both partner and associate are in question here. Not those of John Smith who (based on what we know) is honest and looks down on those breaking the standards that are expected of a solicitor. 

Dentons have no option but to let either the partner (or both of them) leave the company. 


Anon 18 February 21 10:37

John Smith is correct. The process could not have been legitimate if the firm has not investigated if others have not been affected by this conflict of interest. 

I dont think this is a gross overreaction. The Partner concealed important information over a long period of time and I suspect that Dentons will give him his marching orders in time as they should. 

Hardknocklife 18 February 21 18:15

Why on earth would a partner at a big City firm keep this a secret and continue to work with his girlfriend. Oh dear. Think their days are numbered at Dentons. I would struggle to want to work with either partner or associate if this happened at my firm. 



Anonymous 18 February 21 18:35

Anonymous 16 February 21 09:27

15th @ 20.32 - John Smith, you're not doing yourself any favours with these sock puppet comments trying to deflect blame from the malicious complaint.

Look at the syntax and volume of likes/dislikes to these posts.  This clearly isn't John Smith defending himself. The vast majority of rof readers think you have behaved badly in the first place. You are making yourself look worse and worse with every post.  

If this is someone doing it on behalf of the couple, just stop.  You are injuring their reputation further.

Sock puppet 19 February 21 20:26

@ 15.20   You would think that the head of dept might have tried to dampen the situation by at least advising the team that an investigation is being made and suitable steps taken. But alas, we have simply been pointed in the direction of a vaguely worded and non-committal guidance note on ‘close personal relationships’ and assured that all has been dealt with properly. Oddly, little satisfaction is felt about the accuracy of this. 

If I find John Smith, he will be receiving a (virtual) high five from me, for actually trying to do the right thing here. After all, aren’t we all supposed to be upholding the trust in our profession as honest, trustworthy people? Or has that been forgotten in all of this...

Anon 19 February 21 21:21

The partner concerned is now emailing the team bragging about his deals and asking if anyone in the team has capacity to help!! What bloody cheek. What cant you get your girlfriend to do your deals?? Why are you offering work to all others all of a sudden? Predictable sod - no class.  

Anonymous 21 February 21 07:49

19th @ 21.21 - don't you want to be offered work. Surely if he offered it to his girlfriend peoole would complain.

Anon2 21 February 21 19:12

As if the people who even undertake the “processes” are fair in themselves. Given the department is having to do redundancies demonstrates the team is struggling and I’m sure the “processes” are just based on who is bringing in work. Morals, ethics and being good at you job won’t count for anything in that place. Sounds like the partner and associate are a perfect fit for a pretty vile environment. Dread to think what their personal lives look like.  

Anon 21 February 21 21:17

Anonymous 21 February 21 10:54: but that’s not the point, as you well know. The process was objectively unfair as a result of a conflict of interest brought about by a long period of deception and non-disclosure.

Anonymous 22 February 21 12:38

21st @ 19.12 - you may well be right about redundancies in general, but what evidence do you have that this redundancy process was more unfair than redundancy processes in general.

Speculation about the partner's and associate's personal life don't come into it any more than speculation about John Smith's private life as a possible motivation for their complaint would.

Anon 22 February 21 18:10

I do hope (likely in vain) that Dentons management are paying attention to all of the comments on this article, and to the fact that the firm has placed nearly bottom of two recent Roll on Friday surveys about culture and Covid management. I know first-hand that there has been a great deal of unease about how the firm's culture and priorities have changed in the last few years, and a lot of the anger about this story seems to tie into that. Employees need to feel that they are being treated fairly and that they are being given a basic level of respect in return for their honesty and hard work. Dishonest employees who happen to bring in some money should not be pandered to. 

Anon 24 February 21 11:25

No. The redundancy and scoring process has been objectively unfair and is (another) employment tribunal claim waiting to happen. There is much to point to that. 

Ultimately the partner and his girlfriend deceived the firm and their team. The partner oversaw 5 or 6 scoring/redundancy meetings over a couple of years which involved his girlfriend which he did not think (as it benefitted the couple) to disclose! How can that be justfied? Are there really no consequences for clear and continious breaches of the SRA rules? 

The associate girlfriend really has devalued herself in the eyes of her colleagues and cannot think many will want to work with either given the elaborate deception. 

The other partners in the team quietly knew of their relationship. It has been an open secret at partner level so all are to blame for not addressing this sooner. They will of course deny any knowledge. Surprise surprise. 

The entire redundancy process from start to end has been a complete shambles and has made the team, the couple and partners a laughing stock. 

This is how to manage and run a large team in the biggest law firm in the world. Well done all. 

Administrator 25 February 21 10:17

Please be aware of our Terms of Use. 

You must not use the discussion boards to display any material which is:

  • in contravention of any relevant local, national or international law or which incites or encourages the contravention of any such law
  • racist, sexist or homophobic
  • pornographic, obscene, profane or vulgar
  • defamatory of any person, entity or organisation
  • abusive, threatening or otherwise likely to be harmful to those persons likely to use the Website
  • otherwise offensive in the opinion of RollOnFriday Limited
  • infringing of the rights (including the intellectual property rights) of any person
  • related to the conduct of a business; or
  • horrid.

What are you looking at Dentons 26 February 21 22:54

Dentons' HR and other staff have been sniffing around this page

Scared dentons employee 26 February 21 23:19

Dentons' HR team must've been on furlough for the last few years as they let this slip under the radar 

Anonymous 28 February 21 07:18

I doubt Dentons' HR team have anything to do with it. Some of the comments against the partner and associate are unfair. John Smith's complaint should be investigated to ascertain whether it was malicious.

Dentons Senior Assoc 01 March 21 15:01

Anonymous 28 February 21 07:18: I have already explained (14 February 21 12:29; 15 February 21 16:45; and 17 February 21 11:39) that John Smith was found by my firm to have behaved entirely properly and without malice.

Dentons Seniorererer Associate 02 March 21 07:27

1st @ 15.01 - you have 'explained' but that doesn't make it true and the firm don't agree with you. They have said the appraisal andcredujdancy processes were fair, so John Smith's complaint must have been either misconceived or malicious, so must be investigated.

btw, you don't own Dentons.

Dentons Senior Assoc 02 March 21 08:44

Dentons Seniorererer Associate 02 March 21 07:27: the firm do agree with me. The result of the firm's internal investigation were the following findings: (i) the appraisal process was subjectively fair, but objectively unfair due to the partner's conflict of interest; and (ii) John Smith behaved entirely properly and without malice, so his complaint was neither misconceived nor malicious.

Dentons Senior Assoc 05 March 21 12:20

Anonymous 04 March 21 16:14: the firm do agree with me. The result of the firm's internal investigation were the following findings: (i) the appraisal process was subjectively fair, but objectively unfair due to the partner's conflict of interest; and (ii) John Smith behaved entirely properly and without malice, so his complaint was neither misconceived nor malicious.

Related News