Starting Over

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After a month off work, I stepped into the central London offices of StockThorn. The lawyers there seemed to lack sociopathic tendencies so I hoped it would be a better place to work. I settled into this firm and got to know the lawyers in the department. The partner I worked for was a straight-talking man called Bartley. He was always smartly dressed in his pin stripe suite, complete with braces, curly hair and a warm, friendly manner. He was ready to chat and regularly stopped by my room to “Shoot the breeze,” as he would say. My boss was a technically sound lawyer and we often sat down to work on transactions together without any of this ‘Pulling rank even though I don’t have a fucking clue’ routine. It was a breath of fresh air and I was happy.

Apart from the actual work for clients, which was interesting, there was a lot of training to give. I prepared and actually gave talks to lawyers in the department, as well as to the wider firm and clients. A lot of these presentations were to groups ranging from a dozen to around a hundred. By far the most enjoyable was when Bartley and I flew out to Athens to present to some Greek banking clients. It was a busy week of talks, but also interspersed with meeting the firm’s lawyers out there, going for dinner, watching football in local bars and grabbing an occasional kebab.

Things were going well at this firm as I was given responsibility for my own work, trainee lawyers and junior lawyers. The quality of my work was actually appreciated by both clients and the other partners in the department. I also got another legal article published in a commercial law journal.

One evening, the small team I worked in went for a few beers and the trainee lawyer was waffling about how great his University was. This bloke had begun well, but then slacked off and was obviously of the view that background meant everything in the legal game. To be fair, he probably wasn’t too far off the mark. Then he went further.

“I can’t understand how someone can go to a University like Oxford Brookes and expect to have a legal career.”

I wondered if he was taking the piss or this was just his considered opinion. I looked at him for a moment. He didn’t seem to be trying to get at me, so he must just have been looking down his nose at the likes of Oxford Brookes graduates without realising his supervisor was one. I let it go and gave him a free rein for the rest of his time with me to allow him to do his thing, which was lazily fucking about. I wrote a review at the end of his ‘seat’ with me and roasted him in an insignificant but satisfying gesture of revenge by a legal scumbag.

I wasn’t a great fan of timesheets by now and disliked running my working day around segregated six minute slots. This was typical of law firms and necessary to charge the correct time to clients. However, the system was also used to find out what else you were up to – or say you were up to anyway – such as administration and training. Management level partners just looked at the bottom line and how many hours you charged to clients, rather than the wider picture of quality of work. Then the economy quietened down and span into freefall just as my health plummeted.

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