A graduate recruitment assistant and trainees from Stephenson Harwood have been overheard on a train laughing at the awfulness of the candidates applying for jobs at the firm.

A lawyer travelling on this week's Thursday morning service from London Paddington to Bristol realised that the three women sitting nearby were a grad rec assistant and two trainees from the firm, on their way to man a stall at Bristol University's law fair.

Contacting RollOnFriday live from the carriage, the lawyer said the grad rec assistant was reviewing applications for training contracts or vacation schemes when one of the trainees "takes hold of one of them" and "reads it aloud". At which point "they all start making fun of it and laughing". 


All aboard the 9am to YOUR CV SUCKS

The unimpressed passenger said it seemed as if the trio, which RollOnFriday is not naming, had "forgotten that other lawyers might be on the train, from competitor firms, and how hard people still find getting training contracts".

"No wonder City lawyers have the reputation of being pretentious and arrogant", said the eavesdropper, "which is unfortunately unlikely to change if these are the actions of our future lawyers, and those choosing our future lawyers".

At least none of them was picking their nose.

A spokesman for Stephenson Harwood said the group's behaviour "falls below the expectations we have of our people and the expectations that our trainee applicants have of us". He said, "We take confidentially very seriously, and will be taking steps to prevent anything like this happening again”. Ubers?

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 11 October 19 08:39

I wonder if the firm will report this to the SRA. Would be a breach of integrity case if the rules were applied consistently.

ShootyMcShootyface 11 October 19 09:02

*clutches pearls*

Oh, the humanity!

Your anonymous caller sounds like a bigger squealer than 6ix9ine.

Mountain 11 October 19 09:11

They were daft, not malicious: the individuals weren't there to hear them. I'm unsurprised by the substance of the conversation, though: I helped with graduate recruiting a few years ago, and two striking aspects were the overwhelming number of applicants, and the dreadful standard of most of them. We take for granted the calibre of the people we work with.

The story says more about the person whose confected outrage caused them to complain about the matter.

ShootyMcShootyface 11 October 19 09:19

My first ever temping job was scanning CV's for a headhunting firm. This would have been in about 1992. High end executive and managerial roles. It was the first time I ever used a PC, and would scan the CV, then populate a database with key fields.

I managed to inadvertantly wipe the hard drive on day 4, after which I resolved to learn as much about computers as I could, but that's another story.

Anyway, even at that level, some of the CVs were appalling. My favourite was the one which said, I kid you not: "Likes: Cricket, being white" and referred to his children as "offspring". It came with a covering "letter" written in pencil on a lined page of a A6 torn from a spiral bound note book. "This might cause the OCR problems", I said to the lady I was sharing an office with. She took one look, laughed, said "bin it".

To this day, I wonder if I was handling 3 Dux's CV...

a perfectly normal human being 11 October 19 09:45

Yes, God forbid anyone have a joke while doing their job, or express honestly their opinion on the ridiculous. How much better life will be when nobody adopts any attitude other than fake and meaningless earnestness, or says anything but the Official Right Thing. 

Many job applications are ****ing ridiculous tbh. Take any pile of twenty and there’ll be two that make you chuckle and at least one that raises a belly laugh.

Anonymous 11 October 19 09:53

Classy.  I interviewed at SH about a decade ago for a TC and, after having a bit of difficulty with a speech impediment, was told by one of the partners words to the effect of 'we couldn't put someone like you in front of a client'. 

Anonymous 11 October 19 09:57

"n their way to man a stall at Bristol University's law fair."


Should it not be woman a stall?

Anonymous 11 October 19 10:04

What an utter weasel you have to be to report this to RoF and potentially cost people a job.  The three of them are idiots but they hardly deserve to have this splashed across the legal press.

Chuck 11 October 19 10:21

Stupid thing of HR and the trainees to do, but speaks worse of the snitcher who could at least give them a tap on the shoulder before they embarrassed themselves further. Seems the snitcher preferred to embarrass SH at the expense of the applicants though.

The Briz to Padders train is full of lawyahs which often gives much amusement, especially the London types who forget there are usually other lawyers also on trains. 

Chuck 11 October 19 10:40

really? that got a down vote? Is Jamie trying to incite some arguing on here by downvoting everything??

a perfectly normal human being 11 October 19 10:55

Advocating anyone being punished for a GDPR breach, good lord. GDPR is a cast iron justification for Brexit fgs

Anonymous 11 October 19 10:57

1) If the source of the complaint had such an issue, why not raise it with them directly?

2) Some people are, quite frankly, idiots and as such, there are terrible CVs out there. 

ShootyMcShootyface 11 October 19 10:59

Chuck: don't take it personally: I average a 3:1 up/downvote ratio for most comments, however innocuous.

There are professional downvoters out there. Dust your shoulders off, son, and rise above.

Anonymous 11 October 19 11:12



I don't think they were reading out people's names and email addresses... What is the breach and the damages?

Anonymouse 11 October 19 11:27

Depressing that people training to be solicitors think it's a proper way to behave though - cackling away over other people's attempts to get on in the world.  Not the people you want looking after your legal interests, I think. 

Anonymous 11 October 19 11:30

It shows a greater lack of integrity than some other cases I think of, but it shouldn't be an SRA matter. It should be dealt with by their firm in the form of training or something like that.

The problem the SRA have is that if they don't get involved in this case they'll look inconsistent and as if they only investigate lack of integrity on a selective basis. They've made a rod for their own back.

Anonymous 11 October 19 12:31


SH print out all their applications to mark and travel with them to law fairs. A few occasions where GR have 'misplaced' applications after a few post law fair tipples...


Anonymous 11 October 19 12:36

Some who got there forget how difficult it is for others to get there. It is not a hate crime, but they are just plain disrespectful and stupid.

Probably no harm to joke about it, but to do so in a public place and when people know where you are from, that is no good.

Gobblepig 11 October 19 15:30

What's really disgraceful about this is that they publicly admitted to being Stephenson Harwood employees. Someone should do something about it.

Irony 11 October 19 21:47

I would have thought employees at SH would know better than to throw bricks from their glass houses!

a perfectly normal human being 12 October 19 02:46

This does not show any “lack of integrity” fgs.

Lack of judgment, sure.

3-ducks 12 October 19 10:11

How appalling that someone should have "reported" this (albeit to Roll On Friday). Get a life.

Anonymous 12 October 19 18:30

Common theme 3-ducks, someone went to the media with the breast-feeding barrister story even although the problem was resolved.

Anon 12 October 19 21:02

Trainees at Stephenson Harwood are hardly setting the world on fire themselves.  I mean, it’s not as if they are high flyers and I suspect many were rejected by MC or SC or US firms.  


Singapore 13 October 19 02:29

I think they have bigger issues that they need to look into... like the hiring of unqualified "paralegal" in one of their satellite office who would not (or at least one would think so) have been hired in the London office.

Anonymous 13 October 19 20:52

It was both a lack of integrity and a lack of judgement. It's not serious enough to be an SRA matter in my view, but if they don't look at it they'll look inconsistent in their approach to judging integrity, an almost inevitable result of their recent actions.

a perfectly normal human being 14 October 19 16:23

EVERYBODY STOP SAYING "INTEGRITY" until you have learned what it means.


Anonymous 14 October 19 20:34

As someone who already knows the meaning of the word, 16.23, and therefore without needing to learn, the behaviour lacked integrity. Although more so than some matters that have come before the SRA recently, not a regulatory matter, but lacking in integrity all the same.

a perfectly normal human being 17 October 19 07:38

“Integrity” means honesty and truthfulness. There was nothing untrustworthy or dishonest about this behaviour. Hope this helps 

Anonymous 17 October 19 12:40

It doesn't help, 17th @17.38, because it is untrustworthy to read out and mock cvs publicly which have been submitted in confidence. It lacks integrity. The people who submitted them didn't agree for them to be used in this way. Hope this helps.

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