tips

To be sure of avoiding trouble he had the advice tattooed.


The 26-year-old trainee who laughs at your jokes? She doesn't actually fancy a paunchy, moon-tanned 60-year-old man.

That's the advice a law firm has for partners tempted to make a move on a junior lawyer, along with 14 other tips to prevent them from wrecking their careers by behaving inappropriately.

Following MeToo, firms and the SRA have given male partners increasingly short shrift when sexual assault or harassment claims have been made against them, and CM Murray says its "plain speaking" guidance is borne of the numerous sexual misconduct investigations it has been instructed on by firms.

The guide, "15 Self-Preservation Tips for Partners to Avoid Sexual Misconduct Risk", warns partners against consuming alcohol at work events, and reminds them to watch out for junior lawyers who are are plastered, too. "Someone who is too drunk to stand or get themselves a taxi, can’t make sensible decisions", it advises.

Ryan Beckwith's career at Freshfields imploded when he took a cab home with an inebriated junior lawyer. Beckwith eventually overturned the SDT's fine on appeal at the High Court, but not before his reputation was battered.

"No matter how interested and attracted they may seem to be in you at the time, the best thing you can do for their safety and wellbeing will usually be to step away and simply ensure they get safely into a taxi and send them home", suggests the guide.

Partners are advised to "keep your hands to yourself", which, as a former Clyde & Co partner discovered, includes resisting the urge to provide "a friendly arm around the waist or the shoulder". 

There's also a sobering message for lonely lawyers who become partners and suddenly find themselves feted by underlings paying attention to them: "They’re just not into you in that way", insists CM Murray.

"That eager junior colleague who works hard for you, smiles and laughs at your jokes, is not interested in you romantically, repeat, they are not into you – they just want you to give them great work and help them progress in their career."

Drumming it home for the dinosaurs, the firm emphasises that locker room talk about a colleague's attractiveness "can easily be misconstrued" and should be avoided: "It's not the 90s anymore".

Even if a junior is genuinely keen on a relationship, CM Murray recommends that partners resist getting their jollies where they get their pay. "Do not date junior colleagues – and be very circumspect about dating peers too". Any suggestion of an imbalance of power will count against the accused partner if the regulator comes knocking, and if the relationship ends, "there is high risk of the fallout spilling over into work, especially if it is acrimonious", suggest the partnership specialists.

One reader told RollOnFriday they were "horrified" to see the tips, asking, "How about partners don’t sexually harass anyone?" Another remarked that it was "hilarious that this even needs to be written", unaware that in 10 years time he will be sacked for trying to woo a trainee by draping his coin purse over the mezzanine.

Tip Off ROF

Comments

Lord Lester 14 October 22 07:37

I don’t approve of this guide! Groping people is one of the perks of being a senior lawyer!

Anonymous 14 October 22 07:59

@7.37 - who is this senior lawyer 'Perks' you speak of? Why do you think he groped somebody?

Anonymous 14 October 22 08:17

A lot of trainees do fancy partners though. And some of the trainees may be paunchy and moon-tanned. And some of them may be women.

Anonymous 14 October 22 08:26

The advice is more against someone else wrecking their careers by accusing them of behaving inappropriately whether they behaved inappropriately or not, which is in itself behaving inappropriately.

Hackaforte 14 October 22 08:45

To avoid murdering people, try not to stick knives into them, shoot them or strangle them.

 

Anonymous 14 October 22 08:47

Some of the suggested tatoos might be appropriate for trainees too, and one can think of a few more.

Anonymous 14 October 22 08:50

@Hackaforte - yes, and to avoid being unable to stand, get into a taxi or do something one will regret later, try not to drink too much.

Anon 14 October 22 08:51

@08.17

Errr no “a lot of trainees” do not fancy partners. And even if they did, what’s your point? That partners should go ahead and grope them? Get in a massively power imbalanced relationship with them? How about these tragic partners just pick on people their own size for their extra-marital affairs? 

Anonymous 14 October 22 08:51

I see it a bit like billing. 
 

Each month I meticulously do my billing. Each month I meticulously don’t grope junior staff. 

Anonymous 14 October 22 09:14

@8.51 - errr yes, lots of trainees do fancy partners, that's well known. Of course that doesn't mean they should grope the partners or vice-versa. There is mutual power inbalance in such relationships if a power imbalance exists at all, it doesn't always. If the trainee fancies the partner then the partner is hardly 'picking' on them if they have a relationship, whether or not the trainee or the partner is married or otherwise in a relationship.

Anonymous 14 October 22 09:16

This is going to come as an awful shock to our managing partner.

He may be 65 but he still thinks he looks hot in his skinny jeans and tight fit T shirt.

And his quips and jokes are absolutely hilarious. 

Anonymous 14 October 22 09:29

The issue is more that firms and the SRA were giving people 'short shrift' when claims were made against them, rather than when they had actually done anything wrong. The Metoo hysteria has calmed down a bit, so this is not quite so prevalent as it was a couple of years ago, but still happens and perhaps a 'guide' is needed on this. And one would hope that law firms and the SRA would understand the difference between sexual assault and 'harassment'.

Anon 14 October 22 09:37

Loooool @ 09.14. No it is not “well known” that “lots of trainees” fancy partners. You are living in a fantasy land. It is only “well known” in your head. Read this guide carefully my friend - this guide was written for you. 

Anonymous 14 October 22 09:44

@9.16 - how do you know he thinks he looks hot? What other staff do you think think they look hot, including female staff?

Anonymous 14 October 22 09:46

Top tip to any partners in their 50s or 60s who are delusional enough to believe they are still sexually attractive to youngsters in their 20s. 

Strip off naked and stand in front of a mirror. 

If you aren’t horrified by what you see then seek immediate medical assistance as you are seriously delusional and in need of intensive therapy. 

Anonymous 14 October 22 10:00

@9.10 - perhaps firms and the SRA need to keep their minds out of the bedsheets and focus on the other type of massaging.

Anon 14 October 22 10:03

Yes, some trainees do fancy partners, in much the same way that some 16 year old kids fancy their teachers….

anonanon 14 October 22 10:06

I don't know what all the fuss is about. When I was a trainee, I let loads of partners touch me. As a result, I got the seats I wanted and qualified into my team of choice. Sure, I was slipped the occasional pickle that was less than ideal, but I'm now firmly on partnership track, have clawed back a decent amount of respect from my peers and am pretty much left alone by the partners who have moved on to touch associates younger than I am. Circle of life.

Anonymous 14 October 22 10:18

9.37 - it is well known that lots of trainees fancy partners. That's their business and you shouldn't be jealous of either the trainee or the partner. The guide doesn't say partners should avoid trainees who fancy them.

Anonymous 14 October 22 10:20

@10.03 - since law firm trainees aren't 16 year old kids it not much the same way at all. Maybe treat female trainees with a bit more respect...

Anonymous 14 October 22 10:27

@9.46 - a lot of partners would probably say the same about some 'youngsters' in their 20s who believe they're sexually attractive to partners!

Anonymous 14 October 22 10:29

 "Someone who is too drunk to stand or get themselves a taxi, can’t make sensible decisions"

nah, fixed that for you:

"Someone who is too drunk to stand or get themselves a taxi, cannot consent to your tomfoolery"

Anonymous 14 October 22 10:31

@9.44. It’s the way he rubs his thighs under the desk and strokes his nipples when he thinks no one is looking. Unfortunately we work in an open plan office so everyone else has to watch. 
 

Anonymous 14 October 22 11:00

@10.06 - if true, you're not the only one - some trainees do this to get promotion. Did you make use of the other money making opportunities from this? If, years after you get promoted, you say that the partners you let touch you acted inappropriately (remember to talk about 'power imbalance') and threaten to sue the firm, you'll likely be offered something called an 'NDA' in return for you not publicly repeating your claims. A good lawyer should be able to get you a six figure sum per partner. Then, a few years after that, you can say you were coerced into signing the NDA ('power imbalance') again, break the NDA with no consequences (don't give back the money you received of course!), get money from the media for talking about, possibly more money from the firm, and have the partners you let touch you be referred to the SRA. If you play this right you could be quids in for years to come.

Anonymous 14 October 22 11:02

I doubt the authors of the guide had Beckwith in mind. He was inebriated, his anonymous accuser wasn't junior, and he was a victim of sexual harassment. The resultant High Court case slapping down the SDT makes much of the advice in the guide redundant.

Anonymous 14 October 22 11:04

@10.31 - still not clear why you think he thinks he's hot. Has anyone spoken to him about it or conplained? And not sure anyone 'has' to watch.

Anonymous 14 October 22 11:13

@10.29 - I'd fix it like this:

Someone who is too drunk to stand or get themselves a taxi shouldn't have drunk so much at work. Doubly so if they're in a position where they cannot consent to their or anyone else's 'tomfoolery'"

Anonymous 14 October 22 11:18

As an unattractive middle aged man, when the attractive trainees are being nice or laughing at my shit jokes I know they are just protecting their career. 

 

Stop deluding yourselves chaps that they are sexually interested in you.

Anonymous 14 October 22 11:28

@11.18 - how are they protecting their career by laughing at your jokes?

Please don't feel pressurised into thinking that you are unattractive just because you are middle aged. Plenty of trainees are sexually interested in older men, a lot of people who say they aren't are just jealous because the middle aged men aren't sexually interested in them.

Anonymous 14 October 22 11:41

If they're interested and attracted at the time then its up to the two of them what they do about it, its nobody else's business. 'Stepping away and ensuring they get home' is nothing to do with their safety and wellbeing. It may be to do with the 'safety and wellbeing' of the partner, in case the trainee regrets what happened the next day or for some other reason decides to make a false accusation. The firm should perhaps focus on preventing false allegations. What they're suggesting is like advising people not to go out in case they get mugged.

MC Associate 14 October 22 12:42

It’s not just the creepy male partners that should be told this, considering the high number of people who have willingly slept their way up the career ladder - especially at my firm…

Anonymous 14 October 22 12:47

Plenty of attractive young women end up with rich men 20-30 years older than them, so this is just a variation of that really. The bigger point is that there shouldn't be relationships between people at materially different levels in the same hierarchy. In normal enterprises it's absolutely forbidden.

Anonymous 14 October 22 13:18

@failed in London - and not just rich older men.  Its no problem if it doesn't impact their work and they're both mature about it if the relationship ends. Not many companies try to forbid it, would be very difficult to.

Anon 14 October 22 13:30

“The bigger point is that there shouldn't be relationships between people at materially different levels in the same hierarchy. In normal enterprises it's absolutely forbidden.”

Agreed.

Minsent Pasons former employee 14 October 22 14:47

At my old firm, I've disguised their name so no-one will know who the firm is, an old male partner was leaving and a female senior associate was in bits.  I thought this was a bit much until I was told that she had been having a 20 year affair with him since she was his trainee.  It does happen.

 

Anonymous 14 October 22 15:17

They do forbid it. If I started a relationship with anyone that works for me, I would need to disclose it and the lady in question would then need to be assigned to another team. Failure to disclose would be a disciplinary offence for both of us.

Anon 14 October 22 15:29

Many organisations forbid work relationships as between people in different hierarchies and this is sensible. Appearances matter. 

Anon 14 October 22 15:32

Anonymous 14 October 22 14:40: it isn’t, though. Many organisations forbid relationships between senior and junior people. That is to avoid at the least the perception of a conflict of interest.

Anonymous 14 October 22 18:22

@15.29 - doubtful that any organisations forbid relationships between people in different hierarchies, this would make no sense. Don't see where appearances come into it.

Anonymous 15 October 22 00:10

@20.29 - good to hear from you, Ryan's anonymous accuser. Hope all's well with you!

City 15 October 22 07:36

Anonymous 14 October 22 18:22: 

"Don't see where appearances come into it."

Why do you think appearances don't come into it?

 

shafted 15 October 22 08:46

What advice would you give a paunchy trainee who eventually lost out on work and partnership prospects to an associate bumping uglies with the boss and after moving firms was told to consider doing the same with a partner who was also blocking the route to partnership...the legal profession for an ethical professional can really suck sometimes

Anonymous 15 October 22 09:22

14th @ 15.32 - do you mean senior and junior in age or in hierarchy? How is it forbidden? Are you saying you would declare to HR if you had a snog with someone younger than you after the Christmas party? I can't see how their could be a 'conflict of interest'.

Anonymous 15 October 22 16:50

@Lydia - that's up to the individual. It needn't be complicated if the people involved are mature about it and other people mind their own business.

Anonymous 15 October 22 16:54

@City @ 7.36 - I didn't say I think appearances don't come into it. I said I don't see where appearances come into it.

Anon 16 October 22 00:03

As one of those older partners who likes to bang the young ones, I steer well clear of anyone in my firm or field.  It’s not worth the risk, and if they’re actually attracted to you (which indeed A LOT are), you can find plenty of gorgeous young women outside work.

Anon 16 October 22 03:15

Anonymous 15 October 22 09:22:

”I can't see how their [sic] could be a 'conflict of interest'.”

Why?

Anonymous 16 October 22 06:50

Tbf after years of being groped without benefits, attractive young women sleeping their way to the top at least has some benefits.

Shame it detracts from the actual good work most are doing. There will always the stigma of 'she slept her way to top' around attractive young partners but it's largely jealously and prejudice.

Anonymous 16 October 22 07:29

They don't know they are old because they are in denial. Sad.

A groper is still less toxic than a loser, ie an obese man or an underclass woman. Their anger towards you do not extinguish for hate or kindness. 

Don't work for losers, boys and girls.

Anonymous 16 October 22 08:29

The Clydes partner put his arm around a trainee to comfort her. The SRA were forced to be involved, but the small fine handed out showed they didn't think it was a serious matter. Most people didn't think the partner did anything wrong and if it happened now its unlikely the SRA or the firm would do anything. I doubt this is the type of person the 'guide' is focussed on.

Anonymous 16 October 22 21:16

How does the partner know if they're into you in that way or not? Sometimes they are. And not just lonely partners.

What happens in Hong Kong and Barcelona... 17 October 22 02:20

That a firm can build a practice based around investigating and defending allegations of sexual misconduct, and produce a guide based on some fairly common sense principles, really makes me concerned for the future of the profession in the UK.  

Any partner who thinks commenting on a trainee or associate's appearance, let alone touching them or trying to shag them, will have a fairly short lived career in any reputable firm.

As for me, I have had a trainee come on to me in quite overt ways.  Was she attracted to me?  Probably not, it seemed to be more of a form of self-help in terms of qualifying into her seat of choice and I was one of the grad recruitment partners.  The result, a fairly awkward moment on the street flagging down a cab, inviting her to get in first and then shutting the door and running in the opposite direction lest she get out and try and kiss me again.

And let's not forget about other forms of pressure, like the time when as a Magic Circle associate on a business trip to Barcelona a partner insisted that I go to a "club" with him that turned out to be a brothel.  It was very generous of him to try and "treat" me to that kind of experience and pay for it, but I had this odd feeling my wife would take a different view so found an excuse to head back to the hotel and draft a document for him... 

Anonymous 17 October 22 08:37

A colleague, whether, junior or not, who smiles and laughs at jokes may well be into you romantically, especially if the act flirtatiously.

Reflecting 17 October 22 19:44

The adage, "don't stick your pen, in the firm's ink" is and has - always been relevant!

Anonymous 17 October 22 21:49

@theirsic - because it doesn't say why their is a conflict of interest. If something is not there then it can't be seen.

Anonymous 18 October 22 07:56

@What happens in Hong Kong and Barcelona- what happened when you reported the trainee that you put in a cab to stop trying to kiss you? Did she keep her job?

No romance at Shoosmiths 18 October 22 15:44

The levels of delusion on this thread are mighty high. Young attractive associates of either sex generally aren’t interested in paunchy, overweight middle aged men (or women) with receding hairlines (usually the men). If they pretend to be, it’s 99% down to the fact that you can easily fuck up their careers. The 1% have some kind of kink. If you disagree with this, ask yourself why they aren’t pursuing ordinary middle aged men and women, who are bin men, taxi drivers, secretaries and can do sod all for their career progression & pay. 
 

 

Anonymous 18 October 22 16:43

I think a lot of female employees would feel 'uncomfortable' at being described as 'company ink'. They have minds of their own and don't belong to the company.

Anon 19 October 22 07:18

Anonymous 16 October 22 08:29: his evidence was not that he put his arm around her to comfort her, but as a friendly gesture (which the trainee claimed, and the SDT found, to be inappropriate and unwanted behaviour on his part). If his position was that comfort came into it, he would have undermined his case, as that would have amounted to an admission that he recognised that she felt ill at ease, when a major part of the SRA’s case against him was that it was improper for him to be in the venue with the trainee precisely because she felt uncomfortable. The partner was rightly found to have committed professional misconduct and most people think that was the correct outcome. 

Anonymous 19 October 22 07:48

Not everyone who talks about colleagues' attractiveness is a 'dinosaur'. A lot of them are young and a lot of them are female. And almost everyone does it.

Anonymous 19 October 22 10:59

@No romance at Shoosmiths - there are many attractive (and unattractive) associates who are attracted to unattractive (and attractive) partners. Its deluded to think otherwise. They don't pretend to be, and the partners have no power to 'fuck up' their careers (actually the associates have power to 'fuck up' the partners careers, hence the guide and hence the examples given in the article). Far more than 1% of associates are attracted to partners, for a variety of reasons, and we shouldn't fall into the trap of thinking something is a 'kink' because we disapprove of it or wish that partners or associates were interested in us. There are many associates who have had or will have 'romance' with partners - that's their business and there's nothing wrong with it. If they weren't 'pursuing partners, many associates would be in relationships with middle aged men and women for a variety of reasons. That's their business and their choice.

anon 20 October 22 09:00

@Anon 14 October 22 15:32

Yes, important to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest.

City 20 October 22 10:00

There aren't many associates who are attracted to partners. It's deluded to think otherwise. One of the reasons for this is that partners have the power to 'fuck up' their careers (whereas the associates have no such power - which is why the guide is aimed at partners). No more than 1% of associates are attracted to partners, and those who are tend to be motivated by some sort of kink based on power play. There are not many associates who have had or will have 'romance' with partners: they realise that it isn't appropriate in hierarchical organisations where perceptions matter. What they do in their personal lives is of course their business, but that doesn't apply at work.

Anonymous 20 October 22 20:00

@City- There are many associates who are attracted to partners. It's deluded to think otherwise. One of the reasons for this is that associates have the power to 'fuck up' their careers (whereas the partners have no such power - which is why the guide is aimed at partners). No less than 99% of associates are attracted to partners, and those who aren't tend to be motivated by some sort of jealous kink based on power play. There are many associates who have had or will have 'romance' with partners: they realise that it isn't inappropriate in organisations where it is nobody else's business. What they do in their personal lives is of course their business, and that does also apply at work.

Anonymous 20 October 22 21:01

@11.32 - some of them do want shag partners. Just because they or the partners don't want to shag you is no reason to get jealous!

Anonymous 20 October 22 23:46

@[email protected] - same thing if it was to comfort her or as a friendly gesture. How did he know it was unwanted? Both of them didn't know what the venue was until they were inside, this isn't disputed, not even by the SRA. What does 'uncomfortable' mean? How was she 'uncomfortable'? This wasn't professional misconduct and wasnt a serious matter but the SRA felt forced to do something, hence the small fine. If this happened now the case wouldn't be pursued. Most people felt this was a trivial matter undeserving of the attention of the regulator, as was reflected in the comments and voting on the article about it posted on here.

What happens in Hong Kong and Barcelona... 21 October 22 03:11

@Anonymous 18 October 22 07:56 - The following day I discussed the incident with three other partners, more as a form of self-insurance than making any formal report.  It's nearly impossible to terminate a training contract in HK, so the issue was dealt with by letting her only qualify into a far-flung office, a long way away from HK.  

Anonymous 21 October 22 07:01

Not clear why accusations of 'imbalance of power' count against partners and not associates when there is a mutual imbalance of power.

Anonymous 21 October 22 08:42

@What happens in Hong Kong and Barcelona - did you report it to the regulator?

Anon 21 October 22 08:43

City 20 October 22 10:00: I agree. It is delusional to think that lots of associates are attracted to partners. A core reason for that is the power which partners have to make or break associates’ careers; that power plainly doesn’t obtain the other way around (which is why, as you rightly say, the guide is aimed at partners). A tiny percentage of associates are attracted to partners, and I would agree that some sort of power play-based kink is involved. Of course, what people do in their private lives is one thing; but at work, where perceptions matter, associates avoid having relationships with partners because they rightly realise that such relationships are inappropriate.

Anon 21 October 22 08:49

@Anon 19 October 22 07:18

A correct analysis of the decision. Professional misconduct was found because he put his arm around her twice when she didn’t want him to do so, in an environment where he should never have been with her. He made it clear from statements made after the SDT’s decision that he recognised his failings and learned from them. The voting and commentary on the RoF article dealing with this showed that people agreed with his conviction. 

Anonymous 21 October 22 08:54

Its horrifying to see the guide. Why don't people stop making false allegations, mind their own business, and stop being jealous.

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