Slaughter and May has banned work ski trips after a female lawyer accused a male lawyer of sexual harassment on a firm skiing break. 

The male lawyer (let’s call him the inappropriate snowman) allegedly sent the female lawyer a series of sexual texts during the firm-subsidised getaway. The female lawyer also refused to share a hotel room with the randy snowman following an apres-ski drinking session, according to The Telegraph. 

The alleged victim complained to the firm, which resulted in the snowman being moved to another team. The accused lawyer has now left Slaughter and May and moved to another City firm. The female associate remains at the firm. Both lawyers are mid-level associates.


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When the allegations were made, the elite Magic Circle firm was already carrying out a risk assessment on behaviour that included social events. The review concluded that staff ski trips ("partner-funded booze affairs" as described by a source to RollOnFriday) were high risk and should be scrapped. Other firms have had to cancel ski holidays for less racy reasons

Slaughter and May is not alone in arranging a trip that has gone down a slippery slope, as ski breaks by other firms have ended up with nude piggyback rides and honking breasts

Slaughter and May's ski ban is "part of a general directive...to protect the firm against becoming embroiled in a scandal" a source told RollOnFriday. This was also evidenced in some "very tame" group Christmas parties at the firm, according to the source, where (with all the celebratory joy of an Amish funeral) some male partners abstained from drinking and "refused to dance". The source added that "other groups are carrying on as they were, so it's very much a team by team approach".

Firms have been cracking down on the behaviour of its lawyers at boozy events, particularly after partners were found to have acted inappropriately at drinks events at Freshfields and Baker McKenzie. Recent measures at City firms to keep staff in check include fines at Freshfields and launching the sober police at Linklaters

A spokesman for Slaughter and May declined to comment.

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Comments

Dearie 17 January 20 08:25

It's not the sober police, it's just that some people's bad behaviour (and others tolerating it) means that now no-one can have nice things. 

Anon 17 January 20 09:08

8.35 Anon - really?  Uptight and miserable because someone complains about being sexually harassed on a boozy firm event?

The tone of the article is really poorly considered.  Tame, sober police, all the joy of an Amish funeral?  Why, because they were expected to moderate their drinking and behaviour like decent human beings?  You tell that to any woman who's had the fend off an old lecherous senior male fee earner at a firm or client event (read pretty much any female lawyer anywhere).    I sort of hoped that things had improved in the 15 years since I was sexually assaulted at my old firm's Christmas do, but clearly not.

 

Anonymous 17 January 20 10:15

09:08 Anon - If one person drowns another in a swimming pool, should we ban everyone from swimming?  It doesn't excuse the drowning (or make up for it).  The response would be disproportionate.

Anonymous 17 January 20 11:31

If this was the real reason, harsh to punish the whole firm for something which may or may not have happened.

Anon 17 January 20 11:57

I think I was on that ski trip, and the “snowman” couldn’t have asked the female lawyer to come to his room for the night because all the associates were sharing rooms with each other.  So if that bit of the story isn’t true, how much of the rest is b*ll**ks too?

Alcyhol the real reason 17 January 20 12:14

I wonder if any statisticians/data analysts have conducted a longitudinal study on correlation between "alcohol" and "sexual harassment" in the general population?Suggest the trend would be towards +1.0.

Therefore, shuddering to think, are law firms simply falling into the normal distribution for these awful incidents?

Agree that its not acceptable to sexually harass anyone but banning work events where harassment might happen surely has other motives (eg cost reduction). 

A couple of decades ago in Australia, a tragic incident occurred at a law firm party where a lawyer had a couple of drinks before leaving the party and lost her life while driving home. Law firms responded by providing a range of options (taxi vouchers, designated drivers etc) for everyone leaving their parties, regardless of sobriety. Nobody banned the parties.

Anonymous 17 January 20 14:10

Total support for you Anon 9.08. The sooner the residual old boys' club mentality can be eradicated from large law firms, the better. I fully understand why Slaughters have taken a strong stance on this- it's about overall culture (not to mention reputation) as much as it is the individual incident so it's not obviously a disproportionate response. 

 

Human 17 January 20 14:44

What is wrong with all you people? Why do you have to get drunk and behave like 15 year olds to enjoy yourselves? Seriously, you really can't enjoy a work event where everyone behaves in a perfectly friendly way while in control of their own faculties? Is it really so much fun to loose control? Do you hate the person you are when your not drunk that you need to drink / snort / grope yourselves into this state? Where I'm standing, the miserable gits are you.

Anonymous 17 January 20 15:46

A ski trip wouldn't seem indicative of an 'old boys' club's mentality as both sexes attend. Seems a little OTT to stop it for everyone, especially since the incident was only alleged.

Anon 17 January 20 16:01

As is often the case with RoF, this story has been written with the junior side of the profession firmly in mind. Here, that means people who might have been subsidised attendees on a firm ski trip and now maybe will not. As a partner at the more senior end of the profession, I thought it might be relevant to address some of the points arising, from a different perspective. 

First, the subsidising doesn't appear out of nowhere. A subsidised ski trip is one the partners pay for; they take home less money so you can have a holiday. That isn't a request for thanks or sympathy, it is simply an observation. I believe that people in this profession work very hard, too hard sometimes, and it is right that they should be rewarded for their hard work. 

There is a "but" coming, which is that whilst most partners are willing to fund firm social events, they become altogether less willing where those events become occasions for assaults and abuse. Partly that is financial self-interest. It is one thing to bear the cost of the event itself, but when the cost extends to claims in the Employment Tribunal and substantial reputational damage, it simply isn't worth it. 

There is also a moral element. I believe those at the senior end of the profession, who have done well out of it, have an obligation towards those whose careers are just starting. Sending young lawyers and support staff off to booze fuelled grope-fests, to bring disgrace or worse on themselves, is not an adequate discharge of that obligation. 

If that means the actions of one bad apple spoil it for everyone, so be it. 

 

Anonymous 17 January 20 17:09

What has the world come to when you can't squeeze a woman's breasts while saying "parp" without first obtaining her permission?

Anonymous 17 January 20 18:54

Drinking is fine and up to the individual, it's only a problem when it impacts other people.

SecularJurist 17 January 20 22:03

Banning ski trips arguably won't stop harassment. As for introducing the 'sober police', that is simply risible. None of those measures addresses the real issues.

 

 

Anonymous 18 January 20 11:11

It's not the case that "pretty much any female lawyer anywhere" has had to fend off an old lecherous senior male fee earner at firm or client events, 17th @ 9.08. And there has been no suggestion of sexual assault in the case here.

Anonymous 18 January 20 11:15

There has been no suggestion that the ski trips have been cancelled because someone (male or female) squeezed a woman's breasts while saying "parp" without first obtaining her permission Anonymous 17th @ 17.09.

Anonymous 18 January 20 11:19

People go skiing for a variety of reasons Holy [email protected]@Nuts, it's entirely up to them. These allegations may or may not be true, but in any case stopping the trips altogether is the wrong thing to do. Nobody is forced to go who doesn't want to.

Anonymous 18 January 20 13:48

Agreed SecularJurist, neither of these measures achieve anything positive for the firms involved. It's also important to understand what the real issues are - what types of allegations are being made, are they true, and if they are not or indeed if they are what is a proportionate and sensible response.

Anonymous 18 January 20 17:03

@Anon @16.01 - I think as a partner you ought to have a closer idea of what these type of trips are, especially if you're paying for them. They're skiing holidays, and to view them as "booze fuelled grope fests" is to perhaps not have the correct perspective. Dialogue with staff might help in this respect.

In S&Ms case it has been alleged that the firm stopped the trips because of allegations that someone sent "sexual texts" (we don't know if they also received them or what the content was) and because allegedly someone refused to share a room with someone else after both people were drinking heavily. We have no idea whether the allegations are true. The trips may also have been stopped due to cost-cutting, it is entirely possible that there were no allegations at all. You are probably onto something when you talk about the cost, both of the trips themselves and of the potential litigation costs of defending a claim (whether the claim is true or false). To think that the trips are being justifiably stopped due to staff behaviour without knowing whether or not the allegations are true or how widespread the behaviour is seems at best naive and at worst disingenuous.

Anonymous 18 January 20 23:20

There has been no suggestion that the ski trips have been cancelled because someone (male or female) squeezed a woman's breasts while saying "parp" without first obtaining her permission Anonymous 17th @ 17.09.

 

If you ever qualify you'll find the ability to read is very useful.  Pomposity might be enough in the students' union and the House of Commons but in law you need a few other skills as well.

Anonymous 18 January 20 23:38

I also thought the bit about the rooms sounded strange, 17th @ 11.57, I would have thought who was sharing rooms would have been decided beforehand, so not clear how the accuser would have been asked to share a room with the accused.

Anonymous 19 January 20 08:40

[email protected] - yes, like the ability to recognise and call out false accusations. Without the ability to read, it would have been a bit difficult to read and respond to the comment.

Pomposity indeed might be enough in the students' union and the House of Commons but in law you need a few other skills as well.

There still has been no suggestion that the ski trips have been cancelled because someone (male or female) squeezed a woman's breasts while saying "parp" without first obtaining her permission.

Anonymous 19 January 20 16:03

There still has been no suggestion that the ski trips have been cancelled because someone (male or female) squeezed a woman's breasts while saying "parp" without first obtaining her permission.

You're going to need to learn to read and interpret documents rather better than you do comments and articles on Roll On Friday.  Perhaps you should go back to the beginning and start again.

I'm don't suppose this isn't the first time you've unwittingly embarrassed yourself in this way and I'm absolutely certain it won't be the last..  One little hint - beware of creating straw men.  No-one respects you for it.

Anonymous 19 January 20 22:25

@16.03 - But there still has been no suggestion that the ski trips have been cancelled because someone (male or female) squeezed a woman's breasts while saying "parp" without first obtaining her permission.

What does "I'm don't suppose" mean? Looks like you can't write! Embarrassing for you! Claiming that someone who has read a comment can't read is creating a straw man!