Categories:West Midlands

Shoosmiths lawyer deemed offensive

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Readers' comments (35)

  • As a Guardianista, I thought the Guardian comment was a funny one, but it was always going to backfire. What made me wince (literally) was the "under 50" comment. Surely a lawyer knows that it is illegal to discriminate on the grounds of age! I bet the firm's Employment Team ducked for cover at that one.
    In general terms though, making jokes alluding to stereotypes and political correctness in a sector where political correctness is prevalent does not smack of a well thought out PR strategy, particularly as the comments were made in a puff piece PR article. D'oh!

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  • they can always rely on the old tactic of forcing the next round of trainees to defer without any payment - this should save the fees they will no doubt loose.

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  • And to think Mr Ballard lists employmeny law as one of his specialisms on the Law Society website! Ouch. Surely he saw this one coming?

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  • Quote Catrin Griffiths
    "I suppose if you look hard enough you can take offence anywhere; this is just about understandable if you’re a passionate believer in a particular cause, but it takes a special sort of joylessness to unearth offence over this sort of remark. "
    Enough said you joyless humorless pompous bunch.

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  • I thought the comments were particularly horrid given the recent waive of redundancies at shoosmiths...

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  • A bit of a generalisation that only Guardian readers under fifty have any interest in social housing. A friend of mine is a manager of a social housing authority, he reads the Daily Mirror and it doesn't seem to affect his performance.

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  • I wonder what Tom Goff has to say about this article!

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  • Well, it's good to see lawyers' senses of humour are as sharp as ever. I think he was joking, kids - you know? A joke?

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  • speaking as a 50 year old recently redundant lawyer looking for a job I don't think it was a joke but that it shows that age discrimination is still practised by even the largest law firms despite it being illegal

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  • As someone on the wrong side of 50, I find Mr Ballard's comments regardless of it being in jest offensive.
    Shoosmiths silence on Mr Ballard's discriminative comment has demonstrated its lack of total commitment to equal opportunities.
    Surely someone of my age would think twice before applying for any position at Shoosmiths.

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  • Andy Ballard aka Anton du Beke!!

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  • Shoosmiths states in its our culture and corporate responsibility sections of its website, "we have zero tolerance for arrogance.....". "......actively promote equality of opportunity."

    Will Shoosmiths' senior management take a zero tolerance to Mr Ballard's comments which is both unlawful and disrespectful to colleagues and clients.

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  • You humourless, sad people!

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  • What a sad world we live in that someone who is clearly over 50 can't poke fun at a sterotype...I thought lawyers were supposed to be intellegent and enjoy satire...

    There are more important and appropriate things to be offended by...please get a life.

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  • I am sure Mr Goff could offer to support him in more practical ways during the fall out from this!

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  • Well there is poking fun at a stereotyoe and then there is denigrating a profitable client group. Good work...

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  • As Ballard looks well over 50 himself surely he is doing himself out of a job?

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  • If only other Lawyers were like Andy the profession would be a better place. Get a grip fellow lawyers the guy was having a laugh. It never fails to amaze me what people find to rubbish big hitters. Before you say it, I work for a competitor and guys like Andy will always be welcome. Wake up and smell the coffee

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  • "...the guy was having a laugh."
    How many times has an Employment Tribunal heard that excuse?
    Surely any comment (joke or not) that is of a discriminative nature is wholly unacceptable.
    Mr Ballard's comment has clearly caused offence to some in the profession and to at least one of his clients. Great way to lose your standing and clients.

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  • "....guys like Andy will always be welcome."
    Political correctness gone made postie, must note from the article and the comments posted that Mr Ballard will not be welcome by some of his colleagues and clients.
    Are the supporting comments posted from Shoosmiths "deferred" (without payment) trainees?! Surely Mr Goff and his crew have not been drafted in to defend the indefensible!! Pure PR disaster.

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  • How ridiculous. As Bruce Forsyth recently said in connection with the Strictly Come Dancing row - doesn't anyone have a sense of humour anymore!

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  • "unlawful and disrespectful"? it's further evidence of the empty rhetoric that is the shoosmiths PR machine, which says one thing but which does not reflect reality.Presumably he was just toeing the firm web line of "creative thinking and the right answers at the right time. Old fashioned manners" good old Andy "telling it straight and absolutely no stuffiness". Welcome to Shoosmiths... redundancies, .....pay cuts ....... and day cuts..... and questionable leadership.....

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  • I doubt very much if the person claiming to be a client of his was indeed a client. More likely a jealous competitor...
    Funny how people on this site are chosing to ignore the supportive article written by the Editor about political correctness gone bonkers. In my view she is spot on.
    I am an IHL for a ftse 250 plc and would welcome working with lawyers who don't take life too seriously. I read some of the comments posted on here and feel sad that I have fellow professionals who are so uptight that they find a harmless quip to be disrespectful or rude. PETTY PETTY PETTY

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  • As a 60 year old lawyer, I say three cheers for Mr Ballard and to hell with political correctness. Anyone with even a miniscule sense of humour should be able to recognise a bit of harmless banter

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  • Oh, for goodness' sake. Watching what is happening in the UK from afar, makes me feel glad to be, well, afar. All this fuss and bother over a bit of humour. So you are over 50? So what? Live with it. We all discriminate to some extent (won't date fat girls/short guys/vegetarians/non-vegetarians/tooyoung/too old/bald/Daily Mail readers) but that's life. Some discrimination is illegal. Some don't like the discrimination laws but they obey them. Given the choice between an 30 y-old and a 51 y-old applicant, with all things other being equal, who wouldn't, if they could, go for the younger model? All this guy did was speak his mind. Something in this oh-so-politically-correct country we are afraid to do. In case we upset the Grauniad..........

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  • I've read these comeents with interest and then read the last one and wondered whether our foreign based friend Mr Mason (boo foreigners...), knows that age discrimination is as illegal as race discrimination. As an employment lawyer i deal with discrimination issues every day and i agree that despite the good intentions of anti discrimination law, there are some circumstances where the law proves to be an ass.
    However, we have the law we are given and the fact that a senior lawyer at an apparently highly competent law firm would make such a comment which appears to show his ignorance of the law is in my view more worrying than the fact it was banter. Would he ever have said, "we'll have anyone who isn't black?" "we won't have women" - no he wouldn't because he and Shoosmiths PR department will be up to date with anti discrimination law from the 1970s.
    I think banter is great, i love banter, just ask my disabled, lesbian of a wife's mother. But it's about showing knowledge, degnity ans professional standards on occasions and not sticking ones foot in ones mouth when Shoosmiths are quickly getting a reputation for doing so.

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  • As someone who did a vac scheme in Andy Ballard's department when he was at Cobbetts, he was amusing, helpful and fun to work with in a department that deals with difficult work on a tight budget. The (fortunately few) occasions I have had to deal with in-house legal teams at social housing providers have not inspired me at all...

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  • Given that he looks like he is close to 60, one would have thought that he would be sympathetic towards people his age!

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  • The discriminative comment made by Andy Ballard is a sign of poor judgement.

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  • As someone who works at the same firm as Andy, I can say that there is not much sympathy for him at the office.
    Andy was at the helm of the social housing team, when almost half of the Cobbetts crew that came with him to us (Shoosmiths) were got rid off under cover of darkness, including a Partner and Associate. He lost alot of support due to his lack loyalty to his colleagues.

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  • What is "political correctness"? How can you have too much correctness?
    Andy Ballard has been caught out for making an unlawful comment. His statement whether a joke or not was dicriminative. There can be no excuse for such a statement as there wouldn't be for a racist or sexist joke.
    I for one have been disappointed that there has been no apology from Andy or Shoosmiths.

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  • stop being so sensitive and lighten up. there are worse things to get your knickers in a knot about!

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  • Was it not Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer and the undisputed champion of liberty and justice for all, who said:
    "If you look hard enough you can find the evil in anything" and also
    "If you look for the good in man as hard as you look for the evil you will surely find a better harvest"
    Cluck your tongues benignly, wag your fingers a little maybe but for pity's sake let it lie!

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  • Well done Andy. You are a damn fine lawyer with a cracking good team.

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  • I find it hard to believe that anyone would be offended by this obvious banter. Cracking good excuse to have a go at Shoosmiths though. Why are we all so jealous of them?

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