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Exclusive: Travers Smith tells vacation scheme students to black up
10 February 2017
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An employee's oversight resulted in Travers Smith suggesting to its vacation scheme students that they black up for its Christmas party.

When Travers picked a London Underground theme for its Christmas party last year, a member of staff emailed vacation scheme students with "top tips" for their fancy dress costumes. Unfortunately they lifted the costume ideas from a fancy dress website, www.props-n-frocks.co.uk, which appears to have been run by Bernard Manning and last updated in 1972. The 'top tips' emailed to vac schemers included, "Victoria – Queen Victorian costume”, “West Ham - West Ham football kit”, and , er, “Blackfriars - just paint your face black”.

    In fact there are a few questionable suggestions on props-n-frocks' website 

When horrified colleagues became aware of what had been sent, the matter was escalated to Managing Partner David Patient. He personally wrote to the email recipients to "express deep regret over the miscommunication" and to "state that it categorically does not represent our firm-wide position and views". He also assured them that he would deal with the incident personally. 


  Three RollOnFriday costume ideas and one unacceptable one*

When RollOnFriday approached the firm it held up its hands. Patient said, "Unfortunately this was something which regrettably did happen. As you know some of the language used in the email is not a true reflection of our culture, values and ways of working which is why we took it very seriously and dealt with it immediately".
 
He said, "As a firm we are committed to creating a truly diverse, inclusive and safe environment for all Travers Smith members of staff". Evidence from the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2017 survey suggests that Patient is right, Travers placed 7th out of 66 firms, with lawyers saying it was a "progressive" firm that makes "visible" diversity efforts. Which hopefully won't be undone by one email encouraging vac schemers to dress as the Britannia Coco-nut Dancers of Bacup.

*Canary Worf, King Crustacean, a black friar and Barrons courting, as if you needed the help.

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