Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ladies, Gentlemen and Lawyers

The underlings (Rookier Rookie and the other younger lawyers aka juniors, minions, life beneath the life under the ladder, etc) are scampering all over the office like overfed puppies, obviously excited about doing ‘real’ work’.

*Face is set in disapproving expression. Insert supercilious eye over pursed lips.*

You should see the way they preen on their way to court with their necks held stiff in a bid to draw attention to their collars. They are all excited about the wig and gown and still clueless about the dark days ahead. In my characteristically benevolent manner, however, I have decided to draw a caution list to guide them through this trying period of metamorphosis from innocent, ready-to-save-the-world Hercules, to the cynical show-me-the-money ambulance chasers. I’ll leave out the easy bits of wisdom – like how to keep your collar starched and sharp between two law reports, how to hide a novel from the bench during a long judgement and other worthy tips for another day.

Lesson One: Never rely on carrots.

It is okay to assume that you will graduate with a law degree after spending the required years in school. It is forgivable to think passing law school examinations really gives you a right to appear by yourself at the Supreme Court the following day. What is plain ignorant is to make plans which assume that the years of reading fine print, brownnosing judges and seniors and doing all things detrimental to self worth and pride will pay in the end as you take silk.

In real life, things don’t work as smoothly as you may discover that the year before the Supreme Court finally rules on your fourth ‘outstanding’ case for your SAN application, bad belles start to make calls to scrap SAN status. At that point, all your lofty dreams and your life’s work come crashing down. Worse still, you realise that all the time spent planning your grand entrance to court as you send the lesser and apparently mortal lawyers to the outer bar, were all wasted.

Lesson Two: Change your name or style.

Except your name is Goodluck, don’t take it for granted that good things will indeed drop on your laps while you pleasantly wait. Being a superstar and making partner by thirty-five is a lofty dream when the strikes in school ensured that you manage to graduate while eyeing thirty. However, don’t lose hope. What you should lose is the assumption that dedication and hard work will take you far. Learn the fine art of schmoozing and ensure at least one equity-partner thinks you are family with a different surname. Then again, work on your creativity and ingenuity at making perfectly reasonable excuses for avoiding work.

Lesson Three: Distinguish between theory and practice

Theory – learn the law; uphold it and you won’t go wrong.
Practice – The law is an ass, whip it as hard as you want. It is tough, resilient and would bend under your skilful whipping. Capiche?

Lesson Four: Nice lawyers are losers.

Remember those nice clich├ęs about lawyers being ministers in the temple of justice and the lovely little book on the rules of professional conduct that contains really good things about how lawyers ought to behave? ‘Ought’ is the operative word. Forget every word you read. In fact, try to get a refund from the bookshop. It’s a dog eat dog world, where we stick daggers in each other’s backs. Tough and trained lawyers would not even say good morning to other lawyers as this may amount to an admission of fact on some fine legal point.

Lesson Five: Create illusions.

Get a Blackberry. Blackberry satisfies the important need to appear busy and wanted. Just fiddle away on it, people will assume you are loved and have a life outside the hours spent in the office.

Lesson Six: Show off.

Most importantly, stop reading unserious time wasting blogs like this one. Go to the library and pick a copy of last week’s law report. Read it with the underlying rationale to show off your knowledge at lunch while your Big Oga is across the table. If he is not there, show off to someone else. Just let everyone know how smart you are.

There. Rules to guide your path.

All with love from big Aunty Rookie.

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