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

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