Cats may have nine lives, associates do not.

A lawyer at Travers Smith has been fired after he had kittens over some kittens, RollOnFriday understands.

The associate, whom ROF is not naming, was on secondment at Inflexion, an important private equity client of the firm.

An Inflexion employee posted on the company's internal messaging app that she had a number of kittens for sale and asked if anyone wanted to buy them.

The Travers Smith secondee said he would take two, but one week later he told the seller he wanted to return them because they had fleas, sources said.

She refused, but over the next couple of weeks the Travers associate repeatedly messaged her to say that she needed to take the kittens back and refund him because their fleas meant they were not sold as described, sources told ROF.

His requests culminated in an eight page letter which set out "all his legal and statutory rights" and demanded that the seller take the cats back and refund him or he would initiate court proceedings against her, said sources.

At that point it’s understood that the Inflexion employee reported the Travers lawyer to HR, which contacted Inflexion's head of legal, who called Travers' head of private equity. 

Inflexion told her what had happened and informed her that the company no longer wanted the secondee, and that Travers had to take him back. Unlike the associate with the flea-ridden kitties, Inflexion's request was granted.

ROF understands that on his return to Travers, the associate was hauled in for a meeting and instructed to apologise to the seller and told that, if he didn’t want the kittens, he should donate them to a charity shelter. He was also told to attend a meeting at the firm the next day.

At the second meeting, sources said, the associate dug in his heels and refused to give the cats away for free, insisting that he would only do so if Travers Smith refunded him the purchase price. Instead, he was dismissed.

“The kicker is that apparently after all of this he still has the kittens”, said a source. Which would make them a pair of the priciest moggies in London.

Travers Smith and Inflexion declined to comment.

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Tip Off ROF


Vet 01 March 24 08:35

Just take them to a vet and I'm sure there is a way to get rid of the fleas! I'm sure a Travers associate can just about afford vet fees. Sheesh.

Buster Gonad 01 March 24 09:02

Let's hope they end up in a good home, one with a fiver in the pot to buy some flea treatment. The thought of them living with an uncaring narcissistic jockey is horrible.

Anon 01 March 24 09:20

Not entirely sure what the ground for dismissal is here and suspect a rather large cheque was written.  Better that than lose a major client.  

Scep Tick 01 March 24 09:23

Travers dismisses employee for asserting legal rights.  Not sure how the ET is going to take that.

Anonymous 01 March 24 09:25

On the one hand, the associate was an ass for his behaviour over what is a fairly standard thing that happens to cats and is something he would need to deal with a bunch of times in their lives were he to keep them. 

On the other hand, sacking seems pretty extreme as the solution to this. Unless they wanted to get rid of him for other reasons, it's absolutely brutal (and the speed at which he was thrown out suggests there might have been- Travers is rumoured to be downsizing by stealth, for example).

On the third hand though, everyone write down 100 times: "Your law firm does not care about you". They will throw you under the bus and then reverse said bus over you if they perceive that you've done something even slightly bad for the client relationship or that sacrificing you will win them even a half-smile of approval from a client. Doesn't matter how much you bill, doesn't matter how much work you secure (the partner will take the credit for those things anyway and saddle you with the blame when those metrics are less good). You might imagine a trainee being this naïve about such things, but an associate should know better.

Anon ex TS 01 March 24 09:27

Travers has had a bad run of personnel issues. Various stealth layoffs. That Senior Associate with the inappropriate conduct that the firm refused to ever explain or define, multiple partner exits.


Anon 01 March 24 09:31

The truth is when your income is so low (ie. <£110k NQ) every penny counts. I don't think this poor bloke has done anything wrong.

Anonymous 01 March 24 09:35

Oh COME ON. How on the spectrum do you people have to be to think that badgering an incredibly important client over a cat with fleas, to the point of threatening legal action, is at all appropriate? Of course he should be fired, on the spot! He showed the commercial nous of a yoghurt pot. 

Anonymous 01 March 24 09:39

Oh my god, I can't believe they sacked him for this! Like, all he did was cause a diplomatic incident with a major client, fail to see the issue with that when spoken to by his employer, and then demonstrate absolutely zero ability to de-escalate a dispute. How could anybody think that the firm was right to conclude that he was one of England's most lawtistic men, who was clearly more trouble than he was worth, and best off out of the building (with a pamphlet about a potential career in Auditing) before he managed to fall out with every single person around him over trivial minutiae?! It's like so unfair!

clubman 01 March 24 09:42

If that's an example of his judgement around legal issues no wonder a law firm sacked him.

OldFart 01 March 24 09:46

You really shouldn't threaten to sue the employee of a client.  But if you do, not over fleas.  You will run the risk of looking like a prize berk.

Topsy Turvey 01 March 24 09:49

Man with no common sense and judgement gets sacked from his role as a lawyer.

Catman 01 March 24 09:49

While the associate may have been heavy handed in his comms to the seller, there’s no way on Earth that alone can reasonably constitute grounds for a sacking by TS (or Inflexion for that matter)? Unless there’s more to the story, this guy needs to finesse both of them for everything they’ve got at an employment tribunal because they would surely rule in his favour

3-ducks 01 March 24 09:51

The poor guy. Not only does his employer fire him for daring to assert his employment rights, but he's probably still got the b****y fleas! 

Topsy Turvey 01 March 24 09:54

What was the original price of the kittens - context is everything. Must have been really pricey for him to be so insistent, cos surely he has a sense of proportionality. 

Anonymous 01 March 24 09:56

Whilst I feel sorry for the associate (who was a proper chump, to be fair) this is still one of the funniest things I have ever read on RoF. 

Cat owner 01 March 24 09:57

In years someone will incorrectly cite this as the origin of the phrase ‘having kittens’

Anonymous 01 March 24 10:12

"I've never sent an 8 page letter. Rookie." - I know! What a schmuck! Everyone knows that you produce correspondence in factors of 10 so that you can easily calculate how much time to record. Like, 10 page letter, 15 units per page, 150 units on the file. Bosh. No further questions your honour. Stick that in your detailed assessment and smoke it.

mmmmmmmmm 01 March 24 10:14

I'm concerned that this individual is not fit to be a pet owner. Most importantly, the welfare of the animal trumps any concern about money, especially if you're a lawyer at Travers. Second, flea treatment is neither expensive, uncommon or difficult. Can someone do a welfare check on the kittens? 

What legal rights? 01 March 24 10:15

@Scep Tick - Caveat (cateat?) emptor. I don’t know the Latin for ‘cats get fleas’ but whatever it is is probably an equally sound legal principle. 8 pages to say what? And this isn’t even in the States…

@Anon 9:20 - I suspect no cheque was written to him. Obv interesting if this gets to the Employment Tribunal. Watch this space!

Anonymous 01 March 24 10:30

I recall the time, seven or eight years ago, I was seconded to a PE client. I sat next to a junior in their legal team who would casually make racist comments (about black people in particular) which were just laughed off by others within earshot. After a few weeks of this, I called her out on it. Not in an overly confrontational way - I had to be mindful that she worked for the client, after all - but just letting her know I didn’t think it was cool.

A few days later, I got called into a meeting back at my firm. Word had gone up to the GC and back to the client partner that I had stepped out of line. It was made very clear to me that I should never raise so much as an eyebrow at anything anyone there said ever again.

The point of this little anecdote is this: even had this Travers associate’s behaviour been justified, the outcome for him would likely have been the same. Law firms will happily end your career if they think there’s the slightest client advantage to be obtained by it. Morality isn’t even a secondary consideration.

Anonymous 01 March 24 10:44

A client without a lawyer is still a client. A lawyer without a client isn't a lawyer.

8 page letter writer 01 March 24 11:17

Ah, the mistaken belief of the "recently emerged from legal training" that strenuously asserting your legal rights is the best way to achieve your desired outcomes ... hold onto that golden feeling for as long as you can, dear ... 

Flea bitten cats 01 March 24 11:52

Why won’t the miserable fecker buy us some flea powder? We are scratching our arses off, here. 

Verbose 01 March 24 12:02

@Anonymous 10:12 - Indeed. Memo to self: if Crick and Watson could write their original paper on DNA on one sheet of paper, what do I have to say about a nickel and dime issue that needs more?

scratchy 01 March 24 12:33

Sounds like a pretext tbf; I may not have done what he did but is asserting legal rights a sackable offence? I get it's damaging to the client relationship as he was declared persona non grata, but have a word with him privately and tell him in this case his assertion of rights is undermining the client relationship, in which case offer to compensate him and make the issue go away; don't chastise him like a little child and dictate what he should do and then sack him for not doing what you want him to do; I hope he sues. 


Hope the kittens are flea-free now :*(


PS. Free Palestine, mfs, cos I know a worrying amount of you are reactionary sociopaths simpling for western imperialism and resultant zionist crimes

Really M8? 01 March 24 13:21

@12:33 well done for mentioning Palestine in a story that has literally 0% relation to the conflict, that’s your daily dose of slacktivism completed

Mr Wise 01 March 24 13:46

"His requests culminated in an eight page letter which set out "all his legal and statutory rights" and demanded that the seller take the cats back and refund him or he would initiate court proceedings against her, said sources."

At least he's now got plenty of time on his hands to reflect on the wisdom of that course of action. And to buy some flea powder (a fiver on Amazon).


Spotty Lizard 01 March 24 14:03

I actually ran into this guy in the street earlier today while he was carrying one of his cats, and I asked him where he had found the bothersome pussy. "Oh he found me, while he was on secondment" replied the cat.

Deals & Business LLP 01 March 24 14:29

A Travers [...] associate should have known better and negotiated a clawback...

Nightstalker 01 March 24 14:34

Let's assume that the story is not a-month-early-April-fool joke.  So often, it seems, that those who are sent on secondment are sent because their firms don't want them in their offices.  Clearly the secondee exhibited very poor judgment but  there is likely more to the reasons for his peremptory dismissal.

Another point: to draft an 8 page letter must have taken the kitten owner a number of hours - longer than it would to have popped into a vet or pet shop and buy some flea powder.

Anonymoose 01 March 24 15:19

@ Nightstalker

Why would you send your worse associates on secondment? 

At my firm, you send your best associates on secondment - as you want your client to be impressed and build relationships with important members of your team.  

Sending someone crap to do a bad job would not be a good look.  

MusicallyLegal 01 March 24 17:37

I think it was in poor taste that the individual who sold him the kittens did not offer to pay for the Vet costs in good faith.  

DigOl'Bick 01 March 24 18:27

We send our worst associates on secondment because we need the good ones to do the work the partners can't be bothered to do.

Friday 01 March 24 19:15

Meanwhile, those poor kittens are still suffering with fleas.  Travers should have reported him to the RSPCA as well as sacking him.  I am not sure whether it is safe to put chemicals on pregnant or lactating females so there is a risk of the mother catching fleas and passing onto the kittens but he should have just got the kittens to a vet and had them treated.  Less then £100 and all good within a week or so.  

They were right to sack him.  He was a liability.  I just feel sorry for anyone he is in a relationship with.  

Anonymous 01 March 24 23:06

@Anon ex TS - how do you know that the behaviour was inappropriate if it was never defined?

Anonymous 01 March 24 23:24

I just bet this tool left the poor creatures with fleas while he negotiated the ‘settlement’ (because it’s all about him of course).

Cat owner 02 March 24 01:29

 "an eight page letter which set out "all his legal and statutory rights" and demanded that the seller take the cats back and refund him or he would initiate court proceedings against her,"

How much is flea powder?

Contract lawyer 02 March 24 01:31

What lawyer worth his salt doesn't include a put option in his purchase contracts?

Proportionality 02 March 24 08:15

I do not like what he did - but this is a private matter and dismissal is disproportionate.

Anon ex-TS 02 March 24 21:12

@ Anonymous 01 March 24 23:06 

I referred to it as inappropriate conduct because that is how the firm described it internally and externally when explaining the dismissal

Just stop farmers 03 March 24 09:45

If the secondee was conducting private business in company time then he was rightly dismissed.

Just stop farmers 03 March 24 09:46

If the secondee was conducting private business in company time then he was rightly dismissed.


Any Mouse 03 March 24 12:34

Are the kittens okay with this guy?  Kittens get flees? Who knew?

Dismissal is perhaps disproportionate, but he did show an appalling lack of respect.  This is probably not the first, or second, problem they have had with him.





NC 04 March 24 18:44

"donate" to a shelter? "DONATE"? As if cat rescue charities aren't already utterly overwhelmed by the volume of abandoned, neglected and mistreated kittens, Travers Smith consider rescue centres should be grateful for a "donation" of kittens? 

Cynical Bastard 05 March 24 00:56

On the one hand, this is clearly insanely stupid behaviour.

On the other, though, it's pretty standard client relationship skill levels for a Travers Smith associate.

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