Leeds outfit says it operates ‘completely blind’ assessment process, with candidates securing positions on ‘performance and merit’

Walker Morris (image via Mike Beaver/Google Maps)

Walker Morris awarded a training contract to the managing partner’s child, it has emerged.

Malcolm Simpson’s offspring will join the Leeds firm as one of 15 trainees in an upcoming cohort, the website Roll on Friday reports. They are said to have secured a work experience placement at Walker Morris in 2014 and a vacation scheme with the firm in February of this year, before successfully landing the training contract.

Walker Morris says Simpson had no involvement in the graduate recruitment process at any stage, with successful candidates securing placements “based on their own performance and merit”.

A firm spokesperson said candidates’ CVs and assessments are reviewed on a “completely blind” basis, and the assessment team “was not aware of any existing relationship between any candidates and the firm”. They confirmed that Simpson’s child went through the same application processes as other trainees.

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Some law firms have policies in place that prevent the offspring of partners applying for graduate roles at their firms, while others aren’t so prescriptive. Walker Morris did not disclose its policy regarding hiring the close relations of senior partners but did mention it recruits those with “the best experience and skillset for the role” and “work[s] very hard to eliminate bias in the treatment of all our employees and potential candidates at all levels”.

The spokesperson said the firm had recently launched an initiative to review its diversity processes, although this is not connected to Simpson’s youngster being awarded a TC. “[We are] currently re-looking at all our processes because there is always room to improve and we recognise that having a talented and diverse workforce is key to being able to respond effectively to our wide-ranging client base and that our success is a reflection of the quality and skill of our people.”

They added that the firm is a signatory to the Law Society Diversity and Inclusion Charter and has “developed an Equality, Inclusivity and Diversity Policy that explains in detail the firm’s commitment to promoting diversity in the workplace”.

Simpson, a commercial litigation and arbitration partner, has been at Walker Morris for just over two decades, and became managing partner of the firm in 2018.

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