By now, many of you have heard about or seen the video of a Clifford Chance “trainee lawyer” making some unfortunate remarks that could be construed as his views about the practice of law. The video has received coverage on both sides of the Atlantic, and it could cause the young lawyer to lose his training contract with the firm — i.e., his job.
But should it? Let’s check out the clip, which gives new meaning to the term “Downfall Video,” and discuss its career implications for the trainee in question….
Here’s the background, from Roll On Friday:
Clifford Chance has threatened to end the contract of one its trainees after a video appeared on YouTube of him behaving like a massive tool, and was promptly circulated around the City.
In “Shark Tales 2″, a journalist takes to the streets “in search of drunken wisdom”. Which essentially involves filming pissheads in Oxford in the small hours of the morning as they proclaim their views on homosexuality, feminism and the City. Cue the trainee at 4:14 in this clip.
Here’s the video, produced by Cherwell, an Oxford student newspaper. The journalist, Toby Mather, is an adorable Harry Potter doppelgänger:
For those of you can’t watch video, here’s a transcript of the relevant exchange, also from Roll On Friday:
– I’m a City lad and I f*cking love the ladness. I love the City.
– The ladness?
– I love the ladness and I love the City, so I’m basically a perfect City lad.
– What is the ladness?
– The ladness is just basically f*cking people over for money.
– F*cking people over for money?
The trainee appears again near the end of the clip, around 6:41, and declares as follows: “I refuse my consent for this to go on the internet, and I WILL sue you if it goes on.”
Alas, he probably won’t be sending any takedown or cease-and-desist letters on Clifford Chance letterhead. A spokesperson for the firm issued this statement: “The comments made are inappropriate and they are at odds with our principles and the professional standards we espouse as a firm. One of our trainee lawyers is the subject of our formal disciplinary procedures which may result in termination of the training contract with the firm.”
But was this really that egregious? It’s an extremely short segment, mixed in with interviews of many other revelers. The trainee doesn’t identify himself as a Clifford Chance lawyer — that connection was unearthed by Roll On Friday — and he doesn’t explicitly state that “the ladness” relates to the practice of law. He could just be referring to the generally mercenary ways of London as a city or financial center.
It’s also worth noting, as a Charwell article does, that the video clip came out months ago, on May 10, making it ancient history on the internet. It’s just that, unfortunately for the lawyer in question, it somehow came to the attention of Roll On Friday and other legal news websites.
Personally I think this attorney, even though he’s just a “trainee” (on a kind of probationary status), deserves another Clifford Chance — a talking-to or reprimand, but not firing. What do you think?
Exclusive: Clifford Chance disciplines “f*ck people over” trainee [Roll On Friday]
Shark Tales lands lawyer in hot water [Cherwell]
Clifford Chance trainee faces the sack after Oxford video appearance [The Lawyer]
Clifford Chance trainee lawyer faces firing after flip remarks in YouTube video [ABA Journal]