Slaughter and May is discussing the prospects of a future trainee with the Solicitors Regulation Authority after they were sent messages which he wrote on social media as a teenager.
The future trainee, whom RollOnFriday is identifying only as 'Jabo' because he has been completely done over, was reported to Slaughter and May and the SRA by a 'whistleblower', who called themselves 'Anonymous Source'. Anonymous Source sent an email on Wednesday evening informing the firm and the profession’s regulator that, "This individual has posted some seriously offensive material".
"I do not take sending this to a firm's Graduate Recruitment and HR lightly", wrote Anonymous Source. "As well as providing a link to his Facebook page above, I am also attaching some screenshots of posts he has made that I felt were particularly shocking", they said.
'Jabo' wrote the messages on his Facebook page between 2012 and 2013 when he was just 18 and 19 years old. He told RollOnFriday they were inside jokes which should be read in context.
In one of the six examples provided by Anonymous Source, a friend told Jabo, "'when a nigger like me makes it....the whole 'hood makes it' and i will be around from 9th august till 2nd of sept." Jabo, who is not black, replied, "why are you quoting B.I.G. to me niggahh and thats sickk you all finished now?"
In another of the messages, a friend messaged Jabo, "miss you bro, told your flatmates about the time you fucked a melon or wanked in a cinema yet man?" Jabo responded, "Miss you to bro, told your flat mates you got off with a girl with 5 different types of semen in her mouth?!"
Anonymous Source, who appears to have trawled through years of Jabo’s messages for material, also provided screenshots to the SRA and Slaughter and May of what they said were “deeply concerning” messages. In them, Jabo used the words "fresh meat", which is also the name of a popular Channel 4 comedy series, mentioned letting women "sit on our faces", and joked that a 50-year-old woman had lied about her age and was actually much younger. Anonymous Source claimed that Jabo's messages "degraded, sexualised and demeaned women".
"I am personally of the opinion that the material which [Jabo] has posted on his Facebook - publicly and therefore accessible to anyone including clients - is deeply offensive and brings the legal profession into serious disrepute, whether under SRA Principles or not", Anonymous Source told Jabo’s future employer and the regulator.
"I would question whether a reputable law firm such as Slaughter and May would want an individual who behaves in this way to represent it, especially given that many workplaces continue to struggle with a 'laddish' culture, sexism and, in some cases, racial slurs", added Anonymous Source. "This individual may already have brought the profession into disrepute, and could feasibly do so again in the future".
A shocked Jabo told RollOnFriday it was important to understand the context of what he had written back in 2012 and 2013. "All those messages are clearly an exchange of inside jokes", he said.
The future trainee explained that "sitting on my face" was a phrase his friend had used endlessly on holiday and which Jabo was turning back on him, while "the n word was in relation to a biggie song". Jabo pointed out to RollOnFriday that his comment about the 50-year-old was actually subverting the stereotype that women pretend they are younger than they are.
In a statement Slaughter and May said it was talking to the SRA. “We take this matter very seriously”, said the firm. “We are in dialogue with the SRA and therefore it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage.”
Hill Dickinson and RPC cut ties with members of Exeter University's Law Society in 2018 over significantly more disturbing comments made in a WhatsApp group.