Oxford University

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….

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This is the first in a new series of ATL infographics — visual representations of our own proprietary data, relevant third-party data, “anecdata,” or just plain jokes.

In honor of Shark Week, we take a marine life-themed look at which law schools’ graduates are the big fish of Biglaw…
 
 

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Bo Guagua

I’m currently reading a delicious, dishy book called Crazy Rich Asians (affiliate link). The title accurately describes Kevin Kwan’s novel, which chronicles the romantic entanglements and over-the-top lifestyles of several obscenely wealthy young Asians.

What if one of these entitled Asians — instead of flying around Asia on a private jet, or spending six figures on haute couture in Paris — matriculated at an elite law school? And what if he came not from a distinguished family with vast private wealth, but from the union of a disgraced former leader of the Chinese Communist Party and an allegedly murderous mother?

We’re about to find out. Bo Guagua, the prominent playboy “princeling,” is heading for Columbia Law School….

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“Oh, What a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive,” said Judge Guy Anthony, quoting Sir Walter Scott’s poem Marmion, as he sentenced British Biglaw attorney Francis Bridgeman to 12 months in prison on Friday. The former Allen & Overy (A&O) and Macfarlanes partner, who had already had his membership of the latter firm’s limited liability partnership terminated, then collapsed in the dock.

Until recently, Bridgeman, 43, was just another hotshot Biglaw equity partner enjoying a millionaire’s life-style. Educated at Oxford University, he joined Magic Circle firm A&O in the early 1990s and rose through the ranks so quickly that he made partner in 2000, aged just 32. Having got married, he bought a big house in the countryside outside London and became a governor at a local school. Three years ago, he capitalised on his success by moving to boutique financial law firm Macfarlanes, where profit per equity partner is still high for U.K. standards (last year it came in at £752,000) but the hours and stress are generally considered less than at the likes of A&O.

Then, on April 6 2010, everything changed for Bridgeman, in the most unexpected and surreal way….

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To qualify as a lawyer in the U.K., you first have to eat 12 dinners. Seriously. OK, it’s only barristers (British trial lawyers) who must meet this requirement. And they have to pass legal exams as well as eat. But the essence of my slightly sensationalised opening sentence is true: no dinners, no qualification.

Here’s what happens: students go to law school in the day, then every month or so go and eat a formal dinner at one of London’s inns of court (ancient clubs for trial lawyers). The medieval ritual has its roots in the pre-law school days when “sons of country gentlemen” from across Britain would come to lodge in the inns, attending lectures, taking part in mock courts, and dining together in the inns’ main halls (Harry Potter-style places that are famous for hosting Shakespeare’s original plays). Certain traditions are still followed, like toasting the Queen and refusing to shake hands with anyone (barristers are historically forbidden from shaking hands each other’s hands). But mainly it’s about getting drunk — on port, the U.K. establishment’s tipple of choice.

Why am I telling you about this? To give you a sense of port’s central role in the education of our young, as a primer for a story about the Oxford University Conservative association accidentally revealing its hate-filled Nazi soul at a recent “port and policy” night….

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