Lawyers at US law firm Kirkland & Ellis say a recent boozy graduate recruitment event that saw two lawyers go home with students could land the firm with a frat boy reputation.
The firm’s head of compliance was looking into the incident last week, insiders say, ahead of reports that emerged on Friday.
Legal gossip site Roll on Friday reported that the firm held a booze-fuelled party at the City branch of Swingers crazy golf course earlier this month for vacation scheme students hoping to land a lucrative job at the firm.
The drunken party “was an absolute sh*t show”, one Kirkland associate told the site.
One Kirkland associate kissed one of the students, with the couple then leaving the bar and going to the associate’s flat with another student and one of the firm’s partners where they stayed “until the early hours of the morning,” the report said.
As the group left the bar, one of the students was reportedly overheard saying they "really wanted the job".
One insider said: “This is exactly the kind of thing we’re trying hard to avoid...it just fuels people thinking US firms are full of frat w***ers.”
They added “With all the sh*t around Jones Day as well, I think it’s just a general zero tolerance policy for this kind of stuff.”
Fellow US firm Jones Day, which also has a sizeable London office, is being sued for $200m in Washington DC by six former female associates who allege a "fraternity culture" that is "at best inhospitable to women and at worst openly misogynistic".
Jones Day said the claim gives a “distorted picture of the firm” and said it was confident it would prevail in the courts.
Kirkland, which has offices in the Gherkin, is one of the biggest payers in City law, with first-year associates on $190,000 (£145,000).
Vacation schemes are one of the key ways for students to land graduate jobs at top law firms.
A spokesperson for the firm said: “As a matter of firm policy, we do not comment on specific cases. Any issues relating to professional conduct are taken very seriously and thoroughly investigated in line with our firmwide policies. We strive to create an environment of equality and mutual respect.”
Kayleigh Leonie, Law Society council member for junior lawyers, said students being encouraged to drink to get jobs at law firms highlighted the issue of the sector’s entrenched drinking culture.
“Heavy drinking during social events for vacation scheme students only serves to highlight the concerning drinking culture in the legal profession,” she said. “Any situation in which a vacation scheme student feels they have to drink alcohol to impress those in positions of power in a firm, particularly in the hope of securing a training contract, is entirely inappropriate.”