No Win, No Tea – legal work experience with a difference
From Roll on Friday 14/02/12:
Poor old Hogan Lovells.
Two years ago the firm launched its "Ladder to Law" programme. The scheme is intended to widen access to the profession by providing open days and work experience to kids from inner City state schools. It's clearly a very good thing. When it works...
Heavens to Betsy. That sounds rather like inviting the hoi polloi to the legal party. That can’t be right, old chap.
Yesterday morning one young student who was due to turn up never made it to the induction. Cue frantic calls from HR, the girl's parents and the girl's school.
Eventually she was found: setting up coffee and biscuits in Hogan Lovell's meeting rooms. Apparently she'd been wandering around lost. A temporary catering manager bumped into her, assumed that she must have been at the firm to do some waitressing work, snapped her up and packed her off to the meeting rooms.
Forgive me. I know she’s young, may have been nervous and it’s up to employers to take care of students on work experience schemes, but the girl had a tongue in her head. Did it not occur to her to mention she wasn’t there to train as a tea lady? Or perhaps she thought that’s what life as a solicitor entailed. In which case, she probably wasn’t ready to be let loose in the world of work to begin with.
Mind you, at least she wasn’t handed a file and directions to court to go and represent someone. Then everyone would’ve been in trouble.
A mortified spokeswoman said that "the student is one of a number spending the week with us on a work experience placement to see what life as a lawyer is like. There were some crossed wires that were very rapidly uncrossed and we have apologised to the student and their parents for the confusion. An internal investigation is under way and we are taking steps to ensure this can never happen again.”
There’s nothing wrong with working as a dinnerlady - just think of the fetching tabard she could have worn. Remember the Muller Rice adverts from the 1990s?
In any case, it serves as a healthy reality check; lawyers have to make tea occasionally, too. Only at the start of their careers, of course, (and it usually involves doing a run to the coffee machine for the senior partners). Lovells should have put a positive spin on the incident by claiming it was excellent training for the humility that’s needed as trainee.
And learning how to display dipped Belgian wafers on a doily is a transferable skill and excellent etiquette training that will no doubt come in later on when she’s throwing a dinner party trying to convince the powers that be that she has what it takes to make partner.