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

Pillars Of Law


Seeing as lawyers in the department regularly went to the pub, I decided to apply for a part-time Master of Laws degree. I had considered doing this after Bar School, but then I landed a pupillage unexpectedly, which put all thoughts of a Masters degree on hold. I received an acceptance by telephone only a week after applying for the Master of Laws degree at University College London. The usual route was to do four examined subjects over a two-year period, but I wanted to do two research papers and two examined subjects, which was approved. I worked in the library before beginning the degree and completed the first year research paper early. My workplace paid the fees. I attended lectures sporadically for the examined subject of insolvency law and drip-fed my research paper to a tutor. But I was caught out while taking a taxi back to UnderDogs from a law firm with my boss. Continue reading

Throw Away Situation


The first year working at UnderDogs was a shock to the system as the work was so dull. I was used to being tested daily during pupillage and I found the boredom there hard to take. But I was a newly qualified lawyer and had to begin somewhere. It was just a matter of getting on with it and learning the application of law in a financial context. This was not the most exciting thing I had ever done, but the reality was I could not afford to practice at the private bar, so the employed bar had to be the way ahead. And I was earning a good wage for once in my life. The repetitive days were balanced with regular beers after work. Continue reading

Going Underground


At first, travelling on the underground in London was a novelty, crammed in with all the other commuters. But it soon wore thin as I watched the people who inhabit this environment. The elbower fidgets, turns the pages of a newspaper or fumbles in a bag while repeatedly digging you in the ribs. The take-up-too-much-roomer leaves their neighbour sitting at the edge of a seat with one cheek in mid-air. This sometimes extends to the double-seater, who sits on one seat and places their bag on the other. Continue reading

Pick Myself Up

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There was something surreal about my situation. I had spent a long time bedridden and turned my thoughts to other times. After my stint training to become a barrister, I applied for an in-house legal role at Underdog Bank in London, which was generally looked down upon by the big City banks. I got an interview, but had no relevant experience so I read a book on finance law and the first interview went well. I was up against it financially as I had a large student debt and no income. Michelle and I had bought a small end of terrace house in Watford and money was tight. We were close to defaulting on the mortgage. I landed a second interview and prepared by memorising large parts of the published information about the bank. Continue reading

Stumble And Fall


I have an appointment for a CT scan at a hospital in London called The Lister. Dragging myself out of bed, I turn the shower on and lean against the wall as the water gushes down. Mentally, I prepare for the effort I will have to put in. I’m stubbornly – or stupidly – independent and decide to go alone to Sloane Square tube station. I get on the train and sit on a seat straight away. But I am exhausted and feel sick. Continue reading

Hard Times


The procedure each time I went for a radiotherapy session involved collecting my file before going to the waiting area. I sat down with the others and a silent resignation to our fate. Flicking through my notes, I was met with indecipherable medical terminology. I am not sure if the doctors told me the stage of cancer I have. If they did, I was too dazed or messed up to take it in. Continue reading