Herbert Smith hit by associates’ racism claims

Herbert Smith has been hit by accusations of racism from its own community of Indian associates, who feel they have been singled out for cultural integration courses.

The course, dubbed ‘Working Effectively Within Herbert Smith’, is designed to help new joiners adjust to life within the firm, but Indian associates have hit out at its “condescending” and “discriminatory” nature.

In an email to Herbert Smith’s India group chair Chris Parsons the associates said: “Indian associates have been picked out from their respective groups and asked to attend the course while other associates have not. This has been perceived as unfair and discriminatory – with discrimination based on the grounds of nationality alone.”

So far the only people to attend the course, which is run by training company Culturewise, has been a 15-strong group of Indian associates.

Talking to The Lawyer, Parsons said any offence caused was entirely unintentional. He added that the Indian lawyers had not been singled out, with the firm poised to roll the course out to all new joiners, including those who hail from the UK.

Parsons said the course was piloted with the Indian associates because a high number had joined together and the firm felt this offered the opportunity to get feedback from a large homogenous group.