SJ Berwin was 'wrong' to ask summer student to do an all-nighter

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  • I would have thought that if a student could contribute anything it would be an ability to stay up all night.

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  • Cannot believe this story - what is a student in such a situation to do? Apply to Nabarro I think - they got one of their vac scheme student to dress up as a cheer leader, which sounds like much more fun!

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  • hilarious......................

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  • It'll be quite cruel if she's not offered a TC there now... though whether she'd want to work there is another question...

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  • 'worked through the night on a document'
    I'm guessing she was paginating until 5am. What else are you going to get a vac student to do?

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  • I'm sure any student would have done this if needed and if they wanted to work at SJ Berwin enough.

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  • Poor luv. And they say SJB's reputation isn't deserved.

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  • If they don't give her a TC they should at least pay her the significant amount they charged the client for the work she did at a ridiculous hour.

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  • I'm sure the individual was grateful to have been asked and given the opportunity to prove herself rather than annoyed. TCs are so hard to get these days that I'm sure a number of students would have been willing to do this task. I don't think the firm is different to many other firms - I'm sure Magic circle request a great great deal worse than one all nighter every so often. Well done to her.

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  • I think they've got this sorted. There's nothing wrong with giving a student the opportunity to be involved with this sort of thing. As one poster has said, I think many students would love to have a story like this to tell. However, it is quite right that the student should have been given the opportunity, not 'requested' to stay. Fair play to them for admitting this mistake.
    I expect the student was offered a TC and their supervisor was given a ticking off!

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  • I thought that vac schemes were about making the students believe that City law was essentially a succession of champagne receptions and go-karting? Poor form SJ Berwin...

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  • If you cant do an all nighter, then your not cut out to be a city lawyer, SJB or otherwise.

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  • In all honesty, I think in this situation it was the Summer Students choice and I think anyone would have done the same and would have wanted to stay and finish off a deal they had been working on for the week.

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  • Best vaccie ever?

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  • There were a fair few vac schemers I saw who put the long hours in on their SJB summer schemes...she would surely not have been the first to do an all nighter...at the end of the day vac schemers are looking to gain an insight as to what life is like being a trainee at SJB...so slogging your guts out to all hours is a fair representation...

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  • I think she just got lucky!!!

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  • I don't see what the big deal is about this. I'm a partner at a national firm outside of London and we've had a few Vac Schemers who have stayed much later than expected for various reasons.

    There is no obligation to do so and if one does it should be given credit if anything. If they choose not to stay it shouldn't be frowned upon as they may have other things/priorities to take care of.

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  • Another firm taking advantage of its people! Pay peanuts to its staff - charge the client loads

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  • I don't undertsand why this is such a big deal. Its about having good work ethic whether you re an intern or an associate - whether its pagination or actually working on documentation. So long as an individual has no complaints, its absolutely fine.

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  • Law firms shouldn't be getting anyone to "do all-nighters". That's not about quality of service, it's about testosterone and brinkmanship.

    If you want a job that's so important you need to work all night become a surgeon. Otherwise accept that it just isn't that important and will wait for tomorrow.

    And is Nicola Bridge seriously saying that late night completions are one of the "more exciting" parts of the job? SERIOUSLY?

    God I forgot how idiotic being a lawyer is. Thanks for the Wednesday morning reminder.

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  • If it got her the TC it was worth doing!

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  • Surely this gives her an insight into the world of city law? It doesn't exactly sound as if they had her over a barrel.

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  • Where did this story come from? The student apparently worked "willingly". Did she complain to The Lawyer, or is this just a story released by the firm to get SJB's name in The Lawyer, appearing as a caring and compassionate organisation having made a minor mistake this time, and mentioning (by the way) that they were dealing with a big international arbitration?

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  • Student does incidentally late night on salary of £300/week, likely having been wined and dined on the other nights during the scheme - not a big deal. There are hundreds of law students out there doing unpaid 'work experience' (albeit probably 9-5) for months on end at law firms, where the chance of a training contract at the end is minimal/illusory.

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  • I don't see the problem with doing an all-nighter when on vac-scheme. I did a vac-scheme at SJ Berwin in 2005 and did an all-nighter in the corporate department. The partner and senior associate were really grateful and impressed and took me out for lunch on completion, not to mention the fact that I was then offered a TC there. At the end of the day, you want to set a good impression and get an idea of what it's like to work at a city firm, hence I don't see the big deal.
    As a qualified corporate lawyer in Dubai I do all-nighters sometimes and it is better for a vac-schemer to accept a TC with their eyes open rather than being painted a rosy picture of what a firm is like, only to have that image shattered when you start a TC there, which is what happenned to me when I turned down SJ Berwin to accept a TC at another firm which painted a rosier (and very false) image of their culture and people.

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  • I don't really see what the big deal is about this. Being a corporate lawyer in practice does in fact involve that sort of thing. Some people hate it, some thrive on it - and it will have helped her make up her mind which camp she's in.
    Generally speaking, vac students are at a firm for a couple of weeks and the firm shows them a good time - a couple of trips, free drinks etc. If there's something like this that also happens, it probably gives them a better insight into what the job is actually like... and it's no bad thing.

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  • I am so jealous of her! I would do that more than once during my vac scheme just to impress the people......

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  • Get over it. We all have to do it. Vac students shouldn't be lulled into a false sense of security.

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  • Well done to The Lawyer for a rubbish story. If the student did it willingly, without fuss and did a good job then I'm sure she would have been thanked heavily and no doubt offered a TC for her commitment. No individual wanting a training contract in this situation would have complained to anyone, in case their chances were jeopardised. So all in all, it Looks like this story has been pulled out of thin air and judging by SJ berwins comment, they aren't that fussed either.

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  • Some of the comments on here are beyond idiotic. A friend of mine who was at the firm at the time told me she was in floods of tears. That doesn't sound like someone who was there willingly, does it?
    And yes, plenty of people at law firms work all nighters regularly. But that doesn't mean it is automatically part of the job. There are many more excellent lawyers around the country who don't work beyond tea time. That does not make them less deserving of their salaries.
    Many of these comments just fuel the whole 'it's more than a job' cult that firms rely on to squeeze as much value from juniors and as high as possible fees from clients in order to pad their PEP.
    The thing is, being a lawyer is Just. A. Job. I think it's worth reminding a lot of people that on a regular basis.
    This kind of behaviour towards someone who had no idea what she was letting herself in for is unacceptable, and the fact that it's happened to one or two people before her does not in any way excuse it.

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  • what is the relevance of the collegue she worked for being female ?
    what is the firm trying to say here ?

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  • Oh, and she wasn't working in the corporate dept by the way. Not that it should make a difference

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  • This vac student did not work an all-nighter (unless she arrived in the office at 5 a.m.). See definition below.
    "All-nighter" means working 24 hours inc admin/lunch/dinner/breakfast in or near the office from the time at which you arrive at your desk.

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  • Wow, who would have thunk it. A whole bunch of lawyers sitting around self servicing about how hard are and how they've done it, and how important they are and how the world would stop turning if they didn't work all night to keep the wheels moving.
    Get over yourselves, City law is a joke and you are nothing more than overpaid document monkeys. In fact we all are.
    So you all just keep telling yourselves how good it feels to get totally shafted night after night after allnight.

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  • Difference between being asked to stay on and given the choice to volunteer when you're trying to get a job:

    Zero.

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  • Anonymous @ 12:18pm

    I'm sure the student concerned would be mightily reassured by the fact that the 20 hours (guessing a 9am start the previous day) she worked didn't actually constitute an all-nighter! I'm with El Guiri; this isn't something that should be condoned or supported, and it's not a great advert for the profession that all-nighters (or working until dawn) is so readily accepted by everyone.

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  • I was on this vacation scheme and I can assure you that the individual in question definitely was not "in floods of tears" like one previous commenter has been misinformed. She stayed willingly and without fuss just like a number of us did in other departments when transactions were being completed and more hands were needed than usual.

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  • The suggestion that a student has any genuine option when it is so much as suggested that they do anything at all, is utterly ridiculous. I can't believe the partner tried to defend their position, vac schemers should be sent home at a decent hour. When I was on vac scheme at a top ten firm half of the fee earners nearly demanded that I go home before 7. And I highly doubt the student was offered a TC if this story has appeared. The big firms have completely disappeared into their own reputations. Vac schemers are not there to work all night, whether the partners consider it 'exciting' or not!!

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  • Anonymous @ 12.31pm

    'Thunk'? Hillbilly much?

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  • This has been blown so out of proportion. It's actually unbelievable that people are even giving this "story" the time of day. Why SJ Berwin felt the need to give a statement is beyond me - it just adds more fuel to the dwindling fire.

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  • Why on earth did Nicola Bridge give a statement??

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  • With lawyers leaving SJ Berwin in droves, perhaps they were genuinely in need of her photocopying assistance overnight...?

    Maybe if they ran vac schemes all year round, they could afford to let even more support staff go too.

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  • How much did SJB bill her out for?

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  • What's the relevance of "she willingly worked with a female colleague"?

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  • @Anonymous 3:49pm

    Presumably this information rebuts the presumption that she was forced to work by a gang of male colleagues, who had chained her to the desk.

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  • I'm with a large U.S. firm and our summer associates would view the chance to work on an important project as an opportunity. Summer associates should be treated as colleagues and do what is necessary to get the job done for the client.

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  • Wait..who's the cheerleader? Nicola right?

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  • Commitment, determination, team player, hard worker, keen to get involved...hello, training contract...

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  • Am currently on maternity leave and reading this story and the comments has reminded me of the craziness of working in law. Frankly, anyone who describes working til 5am as "exciting" or an "opportunity" deserves to be shot.
    Really looking forward to coming back to work now. Cheers.

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  • Well I can't say I'm surprised that such a faux pas has occurred. It is clear that these days it is expected by the big corporate firms in London to work long into the night and into next morning. If it wasn't "expected", she would have been asked rather than told.
    However, if she was willing then fair play to her and I hope she was offered a TC!

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