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. Continue reading

The Voice Of Reason

Post126 CopyDuring the continued late nights in the deserted office and the early morning taxis home through the near empty, shadowy streets of London, I formed a plan. I ran it by my wife, Michelle, for a sense check. Late at night, when only Swithers and I were in the office, I would go into his room and punch his face in. Simple, but effective. In my sleep-deprived state, I was pretty happy with that. Michelle told me it was a stupid idea, so I thought about it some more. She was right, I would lose my job. After a few more late nights, I told her about my new, improved plan. I would wait for Swithers outside the office one night, put on a balaclava and then cosh the fucker’s knees in. Taaa-Daaarrrrrr!! Now that was much more sophisticated and I had a decent chance of not getting caught. Michelle said I should get another job and resign. Continue reading



I was told to prepare a talk for some clients and set to work on the presentation slides. Swithers reviewed my work and, without any acknowledgement, used it verbatim to give his presentation. I was allowed to sit at the back of the room but ordered not to speak. Swithers added his condescending slant to the talk. It was entertaining as I watched the reaction of clients who shot each other silent grimaces and grins. If Swithers had anything about him, which he did not, he would have been embarrassed. Continue reading

Too Much Pressure


Swithers handed me a transactional contract to draft from a term sheet on a Monday morning and ordered it to be completed and on his desk by midday Thursday at the latest. I placed it on his desk at 11.59 a.m. on the Thursday and heard no more for nearly a week until he called me into his room to talk down at me. Continue reading

Collateral Damage


My cards were well and truly marked at Jemunt. I was given a few matters, did the work quick and it languished on the partners’ desks while I had nothing to do. For a whole week, I billed zero hours instead of the expected target hours. I knew this would wind them up, but I was not going to lie and bill clients for work I had not done. After dirty looks from the partners, I was given more work. Whenever I gave my completed work to a partner for checking before it was sent to a client, I was met with hostility. Continue reading

This Is Not Business As Usual


The market was booming and I interviewed with three law firms. Even after I accepted an offer, a ‘magic circle’ law firm in the City offered an interview. I declined, but a partner insisted I meet him for a beer. We got on well and drank so much I can’t remember leaving the bar. The next day, I received a call inviting me to a second interview. I didn’t realise the piss-up was a first interview, but explained that I’d already accepted an offer so I was going to stick with it. The law firm I had committed to was Jemunt, located in the square mile. But I had reservations. One of the interviewers, who greeted me with a limp handshake, was standoffish, patronising and overbearing. I shrugged off the poor first impression. That would be the last time I ignored the sound of alarm bells ringing in my head. Bludgeoning on regardless, I was about to make a big mistake. Continue reading

A Different Direction


One trading desk took me to New York. I’d never flown business class before and it was a pleasure, except for having to do some work on the flight as it seemed to be expected by the trader. We did a few days’ negotiations with an enormously fat man and his goatee beard. This was hard work, mainly because it was quite a dull transaction. The evenings were filled with expensive meals and hard drinking sessions until 4 a.m. Then a full day’s meeting, followed by more drinking. After several days of this, the trader and I met up with the client’s lawyer and drove to their offices in a black stretch limousine. Continue reading

BigShot Bank


I spent the summer in blissful unemployment and milled around taking time out. Michelle and I had moved house and I met some people where we lived. The place used to be a traditional English village until the London sprawl caught up with it. Residents were primarily snobby types and gossips. Not my sort of people, so I managed to catch up with friends further afield. The important thing was I had some happy times until I had to return to work. Continue reading

Time To Go


My time at UnderDog Bank remained enjoyable and I worked on some transactions that took less than a day and others which lasted over a year. On one of the more drawn out deals, I was in a room on an all day conference call with a trader, as well as several law firms and other banks. As people droned on, an American voice piped into the discussion. We had been on the call for over four hours and this man had not spoken before. I banged on the conference speaker mute button. Continue reading

Top Snobbers

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My attendance at college improved a bit over the academic year. The oak panelled corridors with Georgian-windowed doors even became familiar. I read the set texts and passed the first year with a merit. My research was on an old chancery doctrine which had fallen into disuse. I demonstrated it was still workable in modern law and submitted the paper, having ignored the professor’s minor suggestions. It was graded 2% below a distinction, but I was annoyed after the event because the professor summarised my analysis and published it the following year. Within months, the legal concept was being used again in the English courts. My work was never acknowledged, but he knows what he did. And it was not right. On the unsteady quagmire of plagiarism, the professor navigated his way upwards. I will never forgive that. Continue reading