Revealed: the truth about legal speed dating
13 February 2009
According to one magic circle trainee there is an unwritten ‘legal dating code of conduct’:
1) never date someone from your own firm, and
2) always date below your firm’s ranking to increase your chances of getting lucky.
The trainee in question claims his foolproof method works, and has even tested it out in a bid to woo silver circle babes who were, he says, scrambling to date a magic circle hunk to boost their social ranking.
Yes, apparently this actually happens. Would some women, who have been able to carve out an impressive legal career of their own, be blinded by a snotty-nosed trainee who flashed a certain business card in their direction?
When an invitation to a charity speed dating event organised by The London Young Lawyers’ Group (LYLG) and sponsored by recruiters Lipson Lloyd-Jones landed on my desk I jumped at the chance to see if this trainee’s claim was true.
But to get a true insider’s experience, fellow singleton journalist Ben Moshinsky and I decided to adopt aliases and go undercover as two whippersnappers from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer…
Corinne: the circle of love
The day comes. I sneak out early from work to change and do my hair. I even put on heels. I psyche myself up, practising lines in the mirror. I’ll admit it, I’m nervous.
Ben and I walk to the venue, a cocktail bar in Farringdon, and test each other’s stories outside before giving over our fabricated names to the event organisers. Seconds later ‘James Naisby’ and ‘Octavia Heart’ are in. It was time to mingle.
I’m not sure what happens, but as I scan the crowd of mostly attractive twentysomethings dressed to the nines, I suddenly feel really terrible. I can’t lie to these people. I can’t make a mockery of the thing they believe might change their lives. Or can I?
I need a drink and by the look of ‘James’ so does he. I slide into an empty seat next to the bar and order a large white wine. “If we’re going to do this, we might as well get a little tipsy,” I say.
Drinks in hand, we make our way to the growing crowd of people ready to start speed-dating, all armed with the safety net of it being a charity event – I’m not desperate, just doing my bit for a good cause, etc…
We split and I join a pair of slightly nervous-looking guys, but James immediately tries his luck with a perfectly manicured blonde clutching a expensive-looking handbag - “let’s just hope she’s silver circle, for his sake”, I think to myself.
“So what’s a nice thing like you doing in a place like this?” the skinny one of the pair begins. (Isn’t this supposed to be for young lawyers? I don’t know what the age limit is, but he is clearly stretching the term ‘young’.)
“Oh I just came along with another trainee for a laugh. And it’s for charity. Why are you here?” I say, hoping he doesn’t ask me too many probing questions about my ‘firm’.
“I’m here for the same reason everyone else is: I’m single and am unhappy about that. Also I’m not getting any younger and I suppose I should start thinking about getting married,” he says. Ding, Ding, Ding! – thankfully I’m saved by the bell: the preamble is over and it’s time for speed dating to begin.
I spend the next hour and half talking to complete strangers, writing down their names and a few words about each of them. The list goes something like this: Mike - nice but too nervous; Tim - fit; John - boring; Andy - fun. Craig - complete weirdo…
And some say romance is dead.
Some dates fire off conversation topics such as: “Alphabet spaghetti or baked beans?”, “Marmite: love it or hate it?” and “Give or receive?” -– I presume the last one is about presents.
But surprisingly enough none of my dates tell me what firm they’re from without prompting, and none of them seem that bothered that I’m from the magic circle. I begin to think my insider’s theory is not all it’s cracked up to be.
“You’re a hack!” My skinny lawyer friend screams as he slams his fist down on the table. Great. Cover blown.
“That girl over there told me that your name is not Camilla, it’s Corinne and your friend is a reporter too,” he points to my side-kick who is in deep conversation with a girl at the bar.
He leans over and I brace myself for an ear bashing. “You should have told me. Journalists are much sexier than lawyers…” he says.
Really? So much for pretending to be from the magic circle.
(Names and details have been changed to protect their identity and save their love lives).
Ben: size matters
The legal profession is one of the sexiest around. Read that sentence again, let it sink in.
Yes, it might seem counter-intuitive that people who do a job that involves mostly paperwork are incredibly desirable but we managed to prove it. So congratulations to you all.
Along with fellow reporter Corinne McPartland, my plan was to test the theory that girls like magic circle lawyers because of all the top status they enjoy. But it descended into farce.
There were more than 60 people there; mostly lawyers but not all, with a waiting list of another 15. So there must be a demand for legal lovers.
The girls seemed to go in groups, with two or three friends banding together at adjoining tables. The blokes, who were the ones moving while the girls sat down, were mostly on their own.
Most of the men there were lawyers, but many of the girls were not. I met a photographer, a financier and an IT consultant at a big bank.
I asked one girl, a non-lawyer, why she was interested in coming to a lawyer-heavy speed-dating event. She said: “Lawyers have really big brains. AND they can talk to people.”
So size does matter then.
As the night wore on, it became more and more difficult to lie about being a lawyer. Three minutes of small talk times 20 girls makes for a tiring but fun experience. It’s like running a marathon in 26 sprints.
Forgetting my alias, I would introduce myself as James and sometimes Ben. It got all a bit confusing until I cracked and confessed my undercover situation halfway into the night. But it was good to get it off my chest and stop lying. And it gave me more than three minutes of stuff to talk about. The girl I spoke to seemed to like it anyway.
In conclusion, it’s hard to see how magic circle lawyers get more action. Mostly because they’re always still in the office. Even the magic circle lawyer who came up with the original theory and organised the event couldn’t make it because of work commitments. Which, I suppose, leaves the way open for the silver circle to get the girls.
Appalling opening lines
Making a good impression on a complete stranger within three minutes of
meeting them is a nerve-racking job. A fresh and funny opening line is a
good way to break the ice.
But it’s a risk. If the line falls flat then you’ve got three minutes of
uncomfortable chit-chat to get through, which feels like three years. Here
are some of the worst from the night, which came from the guys:
“Oh hello. I think it’s about time I settled down and got married.”
“Do you think I’m hot?”
“I have a very wide definition of yes.”
For those who couldn’t think up their own conversation, a helpful crib sheet
was provided by Lipson Lloyd Jones, a recruitment firm and sponsors of the
evening. It had thrilling conversation topics such as: “Alphabet spaghetti
or baked beans?”, “Marmite: love it or hate it?” and “Give or receive?”. We
presume the last one was about presents.