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Blog Name: The Legal Agony's blog

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11 January 2018

Problem of a reader....

"I sometimes get accused of using my legal and verbal "skills" to try to win arguments and bamboozle other people with my wordiness and pseudo-latin phrases and refusal not to have the last word. When mixed up with a dislike of criticism that can be a heady mixture.    Does this make me a bad person or am I right not to hide my intellectual light under a bushel?"

Your longer letter doesn't specifically refer to infidelity, but just because I like the following comment so much I'm going to chuck it in... there's a great line at the end of this BBC article... "I guess, as a lawyer, I was able to explain away discrepancies in my story to girlfriends and convince myself that I wasn't a bad guy."


Sometime we can convince ourselves that we are doing the right thing and acting in a perfectly acceptable way, when in fact we are pandering to our own insecurities and desires without thinking of others.  This results in righteous indignation which we can utilise to defend ourselves from criticism.

We are surrounded by generally intelligent people (some more than others) and we perhaps signed up to be lawyers on a dream of verbal jousting and badinage with intellectual foe (as per Rumpole, LA Law, Mistresses or Suits, depending on your generation) and as working life isn't like that we end up having to get our "smarts" jollies out of the office. 

My office pass photo

However like all skills we need to be prudent in their employment in a domestic environment. See Friends Season 1 Episode 13 (thank you Netflix!) for how it all ends for Roger the psychiatrist with Phoebe.  Not well.  He may be right but at what a cost.

Loving the hair Rog...

Sometimes you just gotta turn it down a little.  
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We Gonna Take U Back
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07 November 2017
Problem of a reader....


I have a bad back and I have been through the usual useless intervention of Pilates and physio.  You sound tall.   Do you have any tips on how to manage it?"

Well I am glad to be able to confirm that you are asking the right person.  Yes I have suffered for my drafting.  Years of bending over a keyboard with a monitor propped up on reams of A4 have left me barely able to bench press 180lbs.  

If it's any consolation, most of the people I know who suffer from a bad back did that injury in the gym, lifting free weights. (It is alway important to ask on any gym tour whether they have enough free weights, as that gives the impression that you lose more lbs than £ as a result of your membership).  However amongst the legal professions the amount of sitting, coupled with the natural reluctance of any management to spend the money required on a decent chair, leaves us all susceptible to back injury.  

You can at least lie flat on the floor of your office, whilst dictating, when you are in over the weekend.

This position worked for me.  But weekends only.

Ibuprofen three times a day for 5 days ("no more no less") also serves to relieve the symptoms if not the cause.

I would recommend a decent chair, something like this chair. (No I'm not on an affiliates referral commission programme!)  

Also a funky pain relieving gel like this, as anything made from NZ green lipped mussels must be good (as opposed to being made for some White Walker with a glowing red back).

"Winter is coming.  It plays havoc with my back"

Of course stress does add to your pain.  The posture of a typical lawyer in the office is that of having your shoulders up by your ears all the time (as they say on Strictly, "wearing your shoulders like earrings") because you cannot relax, can't be yourself, cannot speak or do as you want to, with the clock ticking and the clients waiting and the walls having ears.  All that is coupled with the need to laugh at your bosses' joke(s) and also do all their work for them as they banter with their partners, in a frantic effort to remain in the gang and be accepted.

You should ask for  new chair.  However be aware that many firms will have a  special "back chair" in the office. This will have been ordered online, selected solely on price and look like a blue upholstered Word Rally car driving seat.  It will arrive in the middle of the day and you will have to fit it (as well as the old chair which will never be removed) into your work station.  As a one size fits none" product, you will have to get on your knees and twiddle the levers and buttons yourself to try to get it to fit.  Your colleagues will have a sweepstake on how many times you thump to the lowest height setting, whilst trying to adjust the lumbar supports.

This chair is passed around the organisation from back sufferer to sufferer.  It's fiction is to ensure that the person sitting in it is so uncomfortable that they leave thereby saving the office health insurance plan a serious claim and sparing everyone else having to listen to the ground and moans by the water cooler.  

"We do have one very good chair we use for back pain sufferers"

Finally having children and training them to be masseurs is a great plan.  Not only will you get relief from their practice but they will also have a portable and versatile skill which will enable them to work all over the world* and choose their own hours, workplace and lifestyle.  It's win win win win win. And a fee.

*Visa requirements are the responsibility of the applicant

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Santa's sack
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29 September 2017
Problem of a reader

"I have a full on Amazon and ASOS habit (as well as Uber which is also going to be problematic) and I am starting to worry about Christmas.  I have heard a rumour that the post room may refuse to accept Amazon parcels and we are not allowed to have on-line shopping delivered.  I live in a block where there is nowhere to leave parcels and they get sent back to the sorting office or warehouse. Work is essential for retail therapy.  What am I going to do?"

In your longer letter you make it clear that this is not just presents for godchildren and relies you are having sent to the office - in the means this are gifts to yourself for being such a hard working professional.  I can sympathise (apart from the hard working bit).

My actual christmas parcel post 2016.  Work.

Sometimes I wonder whether any of these retailers have ever thought of getting some space in a building, maybe near offices and transport hubs, where they could keep all their products there and let people come in and not only collect them but also choose and pay for them all at the same time.  If you have any retailer sector clients you should suggest this.  You'll be the leader of the Retail Sector group before you know it, with your mugshot on all the press releases for the firm.    When these new spaces take off you will be an industry guru.  The internet is legacy technology now and shops are the future. #Highstreet2.0.

These "shops"are going to take off.  Mark my words.
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Note to Self
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20 September 2017
Problem of a "reader"....

"I've been on holiday a lot over August and I'm finding it very hard to get back to working. I've done nothing since July."  

Some peace and solitude is important to recharge your batteries

You've probably got until Christmas before anyone notices. Now private schools are back, by the time all the partners with kids at boarding school have come back from the Maldives it will be well into October. Then  all your line managers will be busy completing their CPD and avoiding filling in the interim assessments for the team. 

It's only November that their attention turns to the team - like Sauron's burning lidless eye - wondering about Christmas and will they be able to afford any presents under the tree. Because partners are human and have all the demands and stresses of family life as well as running an business and keeping you employed. 

Bill Bills Bills

So get off your arse and start ringing your friends and acquaintances and get some business in. As no one gets anything for nothing anymore. 
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Tee'd Off
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26 July 2017
Problem of a reader:

Now it's summer I am sometimes asked to take a partner's space on a golf day, whilst they are at the Soneva Fushi 9 * 7 Senses over water glass bottomed villa spending quality time with their wife and children they never see for the other 50 weeks of the year.

I don't enjoy golf but there is a lot of pressure to take up the invitation and tick the networking box, as well as the chance I may make a good contact.  Any advice before I bully off?

I feel for you. Golf is such a thankless game.  In your longer letter you say that you can play golf but it's not something you do regularly. Or enjoy.

In my opinion golf is like sex.  You think that spending a day doing it with some people you know slightly and some others you don't know at all will be fun.  However all the best strokes come early on and the more tired you get the worse you are.  After a while it becomes plain embarrassing when everyone is having to wait for you. You find yourself having to apologise for your lack of skill.  The ultimate embarrassment starts when the others in your four start giving you tips. 

"Maybe use the club a little more"

At that point you lose any kudos you were acquiring and you will be forever marked in the other players' memory as the lame duck, the person put up for a role which you are not equipped to perform.

Remember to take plenty of ammo

I think that coming out the end of the day with that reputation is not something which will bring you any benefit.  I have played a round on many occasions and left people with a worse image of me upon departure than when I arrived.

Here's shot of the Managing and Senior partner on the Capital Markets golf day

So my advice - pass on the invitation.  Either go off and have some lessons, or put those clubs away in the loft and buy yourself a road bike.


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Shout, Shout, Let It All Out...
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29 June 2017

Problem of a reader.  

I often “have” to go out for beers and a curry with the team and also with my contacts at my biggest clients.  I love a “bucket’o’beer and vindaloo” combo but it does play havoc with my insides.

I work hard to try to keep it all in, but sometimes the gas needs to come out.  If I want to do this away from my colleagues I have to go out of the office, which involves using the lift (risky in case of a premature evacuation) and going out through the double height glass fronted lobby into the busy street.  It’s a ten minute trip on its own and my boss is like a hawk and if I am in and out all the time I will be “marked down”.

My gripe (apart from the stomach gripes) is that since I’m eating and drinking in the interests of the firm, it seems only fair that I be able to let it out in the office. Can I?

The usual thing is to go down the fire escape stairs to the floor below and stink out someone else's facilities.  This is especially effective if you are in a shared block with common toilets on each floor, where you can be a thief in the night leaving nothing but   If you want to make this a little more deniable, then pop back up clutching a box of post it notes or folders so it looks like you have been to the print room.  If you need to drop off the requisite stationery each evening on your way out, to pick up the next day as required, then do so. Make sure your chosen comfort station is in the opposite direction from the print room, so that you can make it clear you were nowhere near the bogs. BUT DON'T GET SEEN.

Pretend you smoke. For some reason this activity still seems tolerated in a way that stepping outside to have a can of pre-mixed gin and tonic or a benzo is frowned upon.  Maybe buy one of those weird vape things and then relax outside, puffing clouds of smoke from both ends.

If you want something my environmentally sound, maybe get some of that herbal tea which smells strongly of fruit and deliciousness but tastes of nothing (if you are lucky). If your office is anything like mine there will be a cupboard full of it. NAked flames for fragranced candles or joss sticks are not allowed.  You could get a bowl of potpourri (try TK Maxx which must be the world’s largest seller) but don’t just leave it for ever - after a few weeks it turns into a dusty bowl of arid scraps of wood and the cure may well be worse than the disease.

Tape one of those Neutradol balls to the bottom of your desk.

Maybe try to change your diet - Ethos offers meat free, dairy free, gluten free, joy free dining - but keep off the potatoes and have the KeenWah, as they charge by weight. £££.

However I think the best solution is some charcoal pants. Check out these - they even have jeans for Dress-down Friday.  Get them yourself before they come to you from the secret santa……  

 "I'm not doing my own stunts"

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Don't You Forget About Wee
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15 June 2017
Problem of a reader:

"I have a male colleague with very bad toilet manners who always urinates on the toilet seat. I can't prove it was him though and it's seems a bit of a taboo to confront him on it. What do I do?"

The Legal Agony writes:

RoF is full of stories of people who seem unable to aim their urine down a foot wide hole from 2 feet away - as well as people who deliberately wee and poo in any old receptacle, from shoes to bins to stairwells.  You could perhaps think yourself lucky that all you have to deal with is urine, in the toilet and not poo in your jacket pocket.

 This could solve all your problems and keep the office rent down

Maybe you need to suggest the creation of a "Toilet Monitor" at the next team building event?  And hope it won't be you. Institute inspections before and after each visit.

 Thanks for sending in a photo of how the loo looks now

The Monitor could lock the loos and keep the key on a massive keyring made from a wireless keyboard to something (like they do in rural service stations) so they can keep a check on each visitor.  I suspect the frequency and length of everyone's toilet breaks would decrease if we had to claim the key and you sound like a heavy user with a love for the smaller spaces so let's park that.

Maybe suggest that there be a competition to see who can wee on the seat the most and when the urinator comes to claim his prize you can have him bang to rights?  You may have to require photo evidence which may not be pretty or impressive (although I am reliably informed all things look smaller from above).

 With a snappy name, maybe it will catch on!

Obviously what I want to do is tell you to wire up the seat to the mains (don't try this at home folks!), however I suspect the HR department won't be keen.  Although maybe if you campaign for some of those fancy Japanese toilets which are all singing and dancing then you may get lucky with a wiring problem which does the job for you.

 I understand this goes up to 11!

Good luck.

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Run, Fat Boy, Run
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18 May 2017
A problem of a reader.

"I'm an associate at a large national firm.  I'm not in the peak of shape but I'm not clinically obese.  Anyway I recently started running at lunchtime to try and get fitter and maybe even live longer.  The problem is that I have started to be joined by a few others in my team.  Whilst it's bad enough to be accompanied and observed by running zealots as I puff and huff along the Embankment to my "couch to 5k" app, I'm now being joined by a partner from my team as well.  

Whilst I like and respect this individual, they are much more driven that me.  It has turned into a prolonged session of them showing and urging me on to ever greater feats of endurance whilst I curse and groan under my breath.  Rather than helping me become a proficient athlete, it is putting me off.  The problem is I don't know who to stop this situation without stopping running, which would look like I'm weak and not a "stayer".  Although it's meant in a good way, it's almost turned into bullying.

How do I get out of this?"

The Legal Agony writes:

This is also an unusual problem for me in that you like and respect the partner involved.  So the usual nuclear options don't apply.

This is a blessing and a curse.  Whilst an encouragement to lead a healthier lifestyle is laudable and the partner taking time to run with you and encourage you is I am sure meant in a good way, there are certain parts of your life you may want to keep separate.

Obviously one way of doing this would be to run from home and not in the working day, although as the working day increasing expands and you need to be seen to be in the office early and late, there are less opportunities to do your own stuff in your own time (look at the internet shopping habits of most lawyers).

Indeed really what you are trying to do is to avoid hurting the partner's feelings without giving up the running and as a result being thought less of (not sure not about the grammar of that).

So you could fake an injury - a temporary interruption in the program and hope that the others lose interest in your progress and you can restart with a lower profile.  

 "I'll be OK next week"

Perhaps you should look again at starting early before work.  Try Project Awesome for a great way to start the day. They meet at stupid o'clock so you will still be at your desk first thing with a story to tell.


My recommendation is that you say you are training for the marathon as a charity runner and start stepping out in a massive poo emoji costume. No one can criticise you for that but they may then choose to keep their distance.  And this has the added advantage that no one can see it's you (not indeed hear you scream).  

 "I'll just pop to Boots on the way.."

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Grin and Bear It
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04 May 2017
Problem of a Reader:  

"How do you deal with clients you hate?"

Well the best way is to become a manager and palm them off on a junior, whilst having a direct financial interest in their business. Magically, you will love your clients then.  

This dynamic is different if you are having to do the daily grind with them and some people are just beyond the pale. 

First step - try to get to know them better (if that's possible) to see if you can establish if there is some sort of moral code in them.

   "All our best clients get a bottle for Christmas"

Second step - get to know their assistant.  Having a friendly voice at the end of the phone or outside the office will make your meetings with this person more bearable as they are only the shit in the sourdough sandwich of the nice assistant.

Third step - obviously keep a note of how difficult they are so that you can trot that out when need be as part of your experience of dealing with "demanding" clients in your next interview.  

Fourth step - achieve a zen state of mind - rise above it.  These are people just like you and the foul nature they exhibit at work is a symptom of their unhappiness and inadequacy.  They are actually deserving of our pity (although perhaps not whilst you work for them).

 "It's time for the client team meeting"

Finally and in due course they will come to reap what they have sowed.  And when you tell your accounts team to serve a statutory demand on their company for unpaid bills, you will be able to gain that grim satisfaction of knowing that there is justice in this world.  Although more likely, they continue to prosper and you just move on and have a story to tell at lawyer gatherings. and interviews.  and in therapy. and in bed when crying to your partner wondering why you put up with it.  and as the inspiration for why you left the law. and became happy.

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Hotter than the Sun
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27 April 2017

Problem of a reader:

“I’m a hottie (I’m just being honest).  Short of putting a photo of myself in my bikini on my CV, how can I make sure that this comes across?”

I think there is a critical path to making this apparent without coming across as (too) shallow. Obviously the first thing is to check who is likely to be your boss or interviewer – pitch your approach to your market. Now please don't take this as my personal opinion - I am simply trying to help you achieve your goal.

If it’s a suitable panel, go for it.

Think about your experience, your interests, your previous jobs and your role as an example for women trying to break the glass ceiling in business.

For instance, if you were on the brochure for the recruitment milk round or the “join us” section of the website, people will assume you have a face which can be shown in public. Put it on your CV.

If your previous roles included something which is “public facing” such as UHNW private client or litigation, where you need to look presentable in court, then that may be another clue. Put it on your CV.

Were you in the school play in a leading lady role (the Upper Sixth present “Basic Instinct”) or another glamourous role (excluding Princess Fiona in Shrek)?  Put it on your CV. "I played Baby Spice in the Varsity production of "Spiceworld The Movie The Play"

Your current hobbies should of course always include “going to the gym”, which is the default code for “I’m a hottie”.  If you can broaden that to refer to a type of exercise (TRX or Barre) which is particularly effective and requires some form of flexibility, that’s even better. A class as opposed to a solitary activity shows that you are in good enough shape to brave exercise in athleisure it in front of others - and that alone should entitle you to a bonus on the interview score. Put it on your CV.

Maybe you could start a blog or Instagram feed which is filled with inspirational quotes and photos of you achieving things.  Whilst looking hot (not sweating hot – hottie hot). Buy some followers and put it on your CV. "I do a lot of charity swims"

Whilst this is not exactly standing shoulder to shoulder with the sisterhood, it is using your god given gifts to counter the benefits given to men by other men (who are not gods but think they are).  I see no shame in that.   Certainly, my looks were always a help and never a hindrance.
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