News Law firms Eversheds partner cleared of potential discrimination By Margaret Taylor 29 January 2010 11:48 13 December 2015 17:30 Sign in or register to continue reading. It's FREE Sign in Email Password Keep me logged in Forgot your password? Not registered? It's FREE! Register now Register with The Lawyer National Rival 29 January 2010 at 12:02 Something tells me that the ‘Shed’s reputation as a terrible recruiter / employer wont be salvaged one smidge. Reply Link Cheap Shot 29 January 2010 at 14:49 @ National Rival Grow up Reply Link Rural bliss 29 January 2010 at 16:51 The usual prissy response – “Eversheds does not condone any kind of discrimination or behaviour which is counter to our extensive equality and diversity polices.” Have they no idea how false this sounds? It’s as though it’s been generated by a computer. Some might think she’d had a lucky escape. Reply Link Anonymous 29 January 2010 at 17:19 Reading the story on the other website, this email appears to have been a private email sent to two Heads of Department (i.e. in a managerial position) and marked “private”. Quite how it has seen the light of day says more about whoever leaked it to the legal press than it does about this message. I think we can all guess who that was. Tittle tattle of the most puerile order. Reply Link Anonymous 29 January 2010 at 17:38 Oh it’s all a riddled with hypocrisy from top to bottom. Eversheds won an Equality award from the Law Society in 2008 and it has been reported here how they are at the vanguard of monitoring Equality. But it’s all just a barrell load of tosh as long as attitudes like this persist. It’s like a bunch of Jesuit Brothers handling out awards for Kindness to Children. And then I turn to your Hot 100. If I flick through the pages for Private Practice and The Bar I see a 3:2 ratio of men to women (a fair reflection of the sample pool, I guess) but nary a face that is not whiter than White White McWhite’s , Professor of White at White University. Cant, cant and more cant. Reply Link Dan Russell 29 January 2010 at 21:27 To say that “Eversheds does not condone any kind of discrimination” is ridiculous. Discrimination is discernment. No solicitor could make professional judgements without discriminating. Unlawful discrimination in employment on grounds of sex is quite a different matter and indefensible. I feel sorry for Dutson, though. He was only asking for guidance on how to handle the interview. I’m sure many of us would find it a little tricky. Reply Link Anonymous 29 January 2010 at 23:19 Why is Stuart Dutson no longer on Eversheds website? Reply Link Anonymous 31 January 2010 at 06:12 This resonates with Franz Kafka’s unsuccessful attempts to enter “The Castle” and the subsequent moral vacillation demonstrated in Dostoevsky’s “Notes from the Underground.” In both examples, it is universally understood that “truth” manifests ‘outside the box.’ Yet, in the instant case, Mr. Dutson’s perception ‘whilst upon his throne’ from ‘inside the box’ demonstrates an inability to correlate truth with the facts. It is submitted that the candidate was invited to the firm because certain benchmarks were achieved aligned with the firm’s hiring criteria. If these achievements were realized continuously with new motherhood, then it can be inferred that the candidate is either a fantastic time manager, acclimates to tremendous responsibility, maintains sufficient family support or adopts a combination of all. If a consensus were taken, it may deduce that this type of candidate is not only resourceful but also a candidate of choice. However (unless facts prove to the contrary) the query respecting the candidate’s proposed inability ‘to balance work and child’ does not appear to be problem. The fundamental issue is that the firm wants to maintain “exclusive possession” or an “outright ownership” over the candidate’s life and Mr. Dutson’s ‘notice’ of the child is not dissimilar to a purchaser being made aware of an overriding interest for which he may be bound. Thus, the question begs as to whether or not Mr. Dutson can maintain a work life balance now that this competing interest has conjured a false perception of his diminished power and control. To my learned and honored colleagues my opinion and remedy would be thus: Mr. Dutson should immediately remove himself from ‘inside the box’ until such time as he gains some common sense, garners a ‘reality check’ and warmth returns to the cockles of his heart. The alternative remedy would be to take “two chill pills” twice daily and go to the pub immediately to devise a plan as to how he shall refrain from manipulation (in massive doses) in order to give rise to a more actualized management style. —Group hug, now let’s crack on, shall we Respectfully submitted, Dandridge Reply Link Edmund Blackadder 1 February 2010 at 01:22 You slightly undermine your point by ripping off my 20 year old material. Reply Link Real Mad Ridd 1 February 2010 at 10:01 It seems he couldn’t do right for wrong – he raised a question to make sure he wasn’t doing anything wrong and he still gets accused of discrimination for even asking the question. It is more of an indictment of the climate of fear and the hysteria that permeates the politically correct society of the UK. And no, I am not at Eversheds. I am not even in the UK, thank God. Reply Link JW 1 February 2010 at 10:41 surely the point is that the correct approach is to assume that an associate returning from maternity leave is committed to the firm and has made the necessary child care arrangements- and then monitor actual peformance through the usual management and appraisal systems. There is no need to even discuss this unless things are going wrong (in the same way for example as you would deal with a single male associate whose party lifestyle means that half the day is spent recovering from the night before). Starting from the assumption that child = lack of committment is lazy thinking as well as discrimination. Reply Link Anonymous 1 February 2010 at 12:04 In response to Real Mad Ridd – I doubt Mr Dutson would have raised the questions about hours/commitment if the candidate were not a woman. Surely the issue at the heart of the matter is that Mr Dutson would not have considered asking these questions of a male candidate. With regard to how these emails ended up in the press, that is neither here nor there. Potential candidates wishing to join any firm should be aware of the attitudes of senior figures, and be in a position to consider (or not) a firm with this information in mind. I would be interested to know how often Mr Dutson uses female juniors on his cases. Reply Link Anonymous 1 February 2010 at 14:50 “Potential candidates wishing to join any firm should be aware of the attitudes of senior figures, and be in a position to consider (or not) a firm with this information in mind. I would be interested to know how often Mr Dutson uses female juniors on his cases.” BUT only two emails out of a chain were leaked to the press. No context for them has been disclosed. In such (highly selective) circumstances it is not possible to draw any sensible inferences about Dutson’ s attitude toward women associates. What is clear is that only two superficially damaging emails were selected for disclosure to the press just after someone resigned. Two questions spring immediately to mind: 1. Has the departing parter raised a constructive dismissal claim against Eversheds? 2. Has he done this before when leaving other law firms, and if so, how many times? Reply Link Anonymous 1 February 2010 at 16:32 I have worked with Dutson and I have seen him demostrate a very female and child friendly attitude. He gave a lot of flexibility to an associate with children and took on a lot of responsibility to make sure the client was well served whilst the associate was able to achieve a work life balance. The quesion asked was not discriminatory. It was a genuine attempt to enquire into the suitability of the job for the candidate and the candidate for the job. Reply Link Anonymous 1 February 2010 at 21:28 I believe it is clear Eversheds is posting responses here to try to justify its actions in supporting Dutson. Reply Link Anonymous 2 February 2010 at 11:34 Diversity in the law – comment! There is lip service and knee jerk reactions to be seen to be doing something positive but more often than not, it’s all to do with cheap and quick profile raising of the firm with no real hearts and minds behind it so it renders it shallow and ephemeral. It is a very tough climb when having been in the law (on the testosterone fuelled corporate finance side) for more years than I care to remember, you have never come across another senior black lawyer face in meetings or other client matter/practice development dealings – perhaps it’s a generational thing and may be in a few generations to come, we’ll see black,gay,female, physically disabled and white all embracing each other and their clients leading their firms/ at the highest echelons of the legal profession Reply Link Anonymous 2 February 2010 at 12:19 Having also worked with Dutson, I can say that I found him to be one of the hardest people to work with. He treated ALL members of his team with disrespect, to the point where very few assistants actually wanted to work with him – both male and female – and none of this comes as any surprise to me. Eversheds will always try to sweep these matters under the carpet in a bid to salvage their reputation, but it just goes to show it’s not such a “Great Place to Work” after all. Reply Link Anonymous 2 February 2010 at 14:05 “A decision which is based on a candidate’s family status or gender IS discrimination …” What is the desision you refer to here? The emails don’t disclose any decision being taken. We have no idea whether this candidate was offered a job or not. Reply Link Niamh 2 February 2010 at 14:46 There are two issues here. The first is why this email has been leaked now and by whom. Is it a co-incidence that the leak co-incides with the departure of Mr Shackleton. The fact that there is no mention of this is troubling, because it has all the hallmarks of a smear campaign. It does not reflect well upon the Lawyer to be party to such a campaign. The second issue is that of possible discrimination. The starting point is that only one email has been leaked. There is nothing else apart from the fact that there was an investigation by the firm and Mr Dutson was cleared of any wrongdoing. Whether it was wise to express himself in such terms or unwise to do so, is very much secondary. Even if unwise (when taking into account all the circumstances, which we do not have), this headline story is simply not justified. It again discredits The Lawyer to lend itself to this kind of smearing tactic. Reply Link Anonymous 2 February 2010 at 16:14 Niamb has defined the issues precisely. It is simply irrelevant whether you like Shackleton or prefer Dutson etc. The questions are: 1. Why emails of June 2009 surfaced some six months after they were sent, coinciding with Shackleton’s departure? 2. A very small selection of emails were leaked by someone (two). On a very superficial reading they make Dutson look bad and Shackleton look good. Without any context for the emails it is difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions about sex discimination. There may – for example – be emails in which Dutson asks similiar questions about a male candidate returning from paternity leave. Reply Link Anonymous 2 February 2010 at 21:52 There is something very odd about this. When the story broke Dutson was off the Eversheds website. Now he is back on it. Reply Link Real Madd Ridd 3 February 2010 at 07:32 What is clear from many of these postings is that so few of you live in the real world it is little surprise that the public has no faith in the legal profession. Dutson tried to cover his ass and he got it kicked. Publicly. Now get off his back. Reply Link Anonymous 3 February 2010 at 07:36 1. Shackleton resigns from Eversheds 2. Two emails are leaked. One makes Dutson look bad. One makes Shackleton look good. Res ipsa loquitur. Reply Link ;) 3 February 2010 at 07:43 None of this surprises me at all and I expect that there may be more similar stories about Eversheds to come out. From experience, I know that – whatever their PR and awards suggest – the firm does not treat its staff well and has little regard for employment law. I know of instances where women have been passed over for promotion, where women on maternity leave have been made redundant and where redundancy processes have been cynically manipulated by management. All in all, I think that this women who was applying for a job at Eversheds probably did well to steer clear. Reply Link Bob Woodward 3 February 2010 at 11:04 Niamh – Surely it’s the responsibility of the press to help bring issues such as this into the public domain, irrespective of the agenda of the original source. The debate that this story has sparked is proof that there are real concerns about prejudices when it comes to recruitment. Furthermore, if these stories never see the light of day, the image people have of the legal profession as a clandestine and closely-knit collection of Old Boys Clubs will persist. Reply Link Anonymous 3 February 2010 at 11:29 However this story got into the public arena is irrelevant. The fact is that Eversheds spouts diversity but then manipulates the redundancy criteria to make any assistant / associate who is pregnant or on maternity leave and female part-time assistants redundant. Reply Link Anonymous 3 February 2010 at 16:09 Clearly some Eversheds product placement here. Spot the mistakes. Reply Link Anonymous 3 February 2010 at 16:13 “There is something very odd about this. When the story broke Dutson was off the Eversheds website. Now he is back on it.” Agreed – the day it broke Dutson, Shackleton and Davenport were all removed from the website. Bizarre – although not if you know the place. People tend to get disappeared down the memory hole all the time…And those who should disappear don’t. Reply Link Tranquillo 3 February 2010 at 17:16 Whatever the rights or wrongs of this, there can be no doubting this has been a PR disaster – having been widely reported in the press and it will undoubtedly have both external and internal consequences for the law firm. As a buyer of legal services it strongly affects my perception of a firm if they are prone to these type of gaffes, which this firm seems to be increasingly. Reply Link Anonymous 3 February 2010 at 20:26 All employees were told that Eversheds is a “great place to work” because “it is a place to work”. That strap line came from the very top at one of their regional office “roadshows”. Whilst one might view that as understandable given the depth and longevity of the recession, to my mind it vindicates the view that all Eversheds employees are deemed to be simply cannon fodder. Pay freezes and an increase to 1600 chargeable hours target together with a clear direction that we match magic circle form hours gives a clear message. Welcome to the sweat shop . . . Reply Link Anonymous 4 February 2010 at 09:38 Dutson is an apparently experienced litigator, dont they have telephones at eversheds? is he entirely without any common sense or judgement, dont commit to paper. The real issue is that he has shown several monumental errors of judgement, the fact he is still at the firm says a lot about the firm and its partners Reply Link Anonymous 4 February 2010 at 13:45 It certainly is a PR disaster for Eversheds – and that was obviously the intention. Agreed that Dutson fell into the old email trap that litigators are always taking clients to task for – but it’s a sad day when you can’t trust your fellow partners. Reply Link Anonymous 5 February 2010 at 16:06 Not to mention the number of anonymous Eversheds partners who are now commenting… Duston is clearly immature and lacks any judgment. The guy probably relies on his wife to look after his kids and it is grossly inappropriate for him to have raised this issue – and quite simply daft to have done so in writing. As for Eversheds, the firm’s track record over the last few years says it all. Reply Link DAVIE LAMECK 5 February 2010 at 17:02 Perhaps it is not discrimination as such. When you look at the questions you can not say it is discrimation. If it were to be so then a lot of questions during interviews will be labelled as discriminatory. It should also be remembered that at that stage he was merely seeking guidance and, perhaps, directions? I think there was nothing wrong with that. Reply Link Anonymous 5 February 2010 at 17:36 I hadn’t realised I was an Eversheds partner – must check my bank balance. Reply Link Anonymous 9 February 2010 at 18:46 Eversheds is SUCH an old boys club. This whole episode doesn’t surprise me at all! Reply Link Pregrine Mason 10 February 2010 at 18:38 For goodness sake! Whether we express it openly or not, we always wonder where a woman’s priorities will lie. Let’s get real: a baby will always be a woman’s first priority. Of course in the oh-so-politically-correct UK we are not allowed even to think let alone say it, but, given the absolutely free choice of a man as opposed to a mother, we would choose the man. We just can’t say so. The truth is that a woman with child-care responsibilities is just not going to be as flexible as a man without them. And we all have to pussy-foot around the problem because, otherwise, we get stuffed by a discrimination claim. Dutson was saying what so many feel. Good for him. Reply Link Anonymous 11 February 2010 at 00:48 An earlier post refers to the Law Society award which Eversheds won in 2008 for excellence in Equality and Diversity. Eversheds won another Law Society award in 2008 for excellence in social responsibility. In the same year (2008) Lord Foulkes was paid to effect introductions for Eversheds. (The Times reported that he had introduced Eversheds’ clients to chairmen and members of select committees). Maybe the Law Society might offer a prize to the person who comes up with the best name for Eversheds’ arrangement with Foulkes? How about the “ Equality and Socially responsible Corporate Consultancy”? Other posts have suggested that Shackleton could be bringing a claim against Eversheds. If he ( or anyone else)is, maybe he should post contact details? Perhaps some people have information for him to consider to see if he could use it? Reply Link AnonymousEvershedsPartner 11 February 2010 at 08:01 While it is blindingly obvious who leaked the emails and why, and it is an open secret that that person’s employment history is rather colourful, it is also true that Dutson’s email discloses a striking degree of bias against “ladies” (sic) with children. Why does a candidate’s “commitment” have to be tested just because she’s had a baby? It is also very bad PR for Eversheds. This will just run and run. The emails are just the kind of thing City employment lawyers include in training for clients in HR departments, that litigators use in risk management presentations and employers in employee induction programmes. Evershed’s competitors have no doubt dropped them into PowerPoint presentations already. Reply Link Quacker 12 February 2010 at 22:06 I’m surprised that’s the only thing which concerned them namely ‘the work life balance’ In my experience most male interviewers are only interested in the female candidates bum or boobs Reply Link Name Email Cancel reply Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.