Biglaw, Sexual Harassment, Tobacco / Smoking, United Kingdom / Great Britain, Videos

This Video Of A Biglaw Office In 1981 Is Absolutely Incredible

An actual switchboard!

Most of you weren’t practicing Biglaw in 1981. Indeed, the vast majority of you weren’t practicing in 1981. Which is why this find is such a gem. Someone unearthed a home movie taken in the home office of a Biglaw firm in 1981.

How long ago was 1981? They still had a f**kin’ switchboard! Like, with wires and stuff.

If you’ve ever wondered what law looked like in an era before computers or basic standards of appropriate behavior, here’s your guide….

UPDATE (7/10/14 1:45 p.m.): Be sure to check out our update revealing the identity of the genius behind this time capsule.

This video came to us from our colleagues at Legal Cheek. Apparently some enterprising employee of Slaughter and May purchased one of them new-fangled video recorders and took it into the office. It’s late afternoon on December 23, 1981, and the firm holiday party is about to begin. Since work is dwindling down, our cameraman decided to start documenting the office, meaning I can genuinely write: “check out all the porn staches in this S&M video.”

I won’t say this whole stunt was an effort to skeeve on the women in the office, but he does try to take the camera into the women’s restroom at one point. Oh, and he has some interesting comments for this woman:

Specifically, “Well I have got a lovely view of your backside, I wish you’d turn. Well she does look lovely even though you can’t see her face.”

While not a reflection of firm life at the time, the most interesting aspect of the video is how scared and confused everyone is by a camera. In an age where everyone’s phone is a direct link to YouTube, it comes off as goofily quaint that almost everyone in the video has no idea what to do with a camera.

Here’s another GIF highlight (Legal Cheek has a few more) reminding us that at one point people really did smoke in the office. Even Mad Men doesn’t play up the proper amount of casual office smoking that was once acceptable:

At the end we get a few shots of the office holiday party and awkward lawyer dancing. It may have been 33 years ago, but the playlist of The Police, Queen, and the Stones could have just as easily been captured at a party last year. And I’m pretty sure the Ricky Gervais “Are You Having A Laugh?” character is the one groping that woman from behind in the video.

Anyway, the whole 23-minute time capsule is here. Enjoy:

No computers, smoking in the office and a comment about a female trainee’s ‘backside’: this video of Slaughter and May from 1981 is incredible [Legal Cheek]

UPDATE: The 1981 Slaughter & May Video: Where Are They Now?

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