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(12)

Blog Name: The Legal Agony's blog

Learn from History
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3
20 April 2017

Problem of a reader:


“All I do at work every day is surf the web.  Whilst my knowledge of fashion bloggers is now second to none (the Blondesalad anyone), I am worried that should my firm implement the mysterious “internet policy”, which is referred to in our employment contracts, and check my browsing history they have more than enough ammo to to give me the bullet.”  


There must be a room in every law firm with a printer spewing out pages of website history into a massive industrial wheelie bin. Every 6 months they heave it out to the mobile shredder.  The volume of websites visited in any sizeable law firm must be massive (as must the number of ASOS packages arriving).

"And these are the records from the litigation team"

However, the reality is they will only ever go down to the basement to get the record of “websites in contravention of our internet usage policy” when they want to get rid of you and by then you’re on the way out anyway.  In order to even think about what you have been looking at online they already have your name marked for the black spot and it’s just a matter of time.  In a world where you can make the front page of the national papers for physical abuse, odiousness and even for leaking misguided email *bantzzz* about sex acts (which any reasonable and decent human being would expect to be keep private) and not get fired, I think the website history is the last thing that will sink you.  

"Here are the trainees delivering the websites from week 23/52"

You’re more likely to fall out of favour as a result of topping the partner’s story at an office drinks than anything related to internet (or indeed work generally).


Therefore so long as it isn’t NSFW then you may be safe to surf the web at work for another 20 years.  If you can stand it.
.... read more >
The Life and Soul of the Party
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4
06 April 2017

A reader writes:

"I have been asked to join the Social Committee to help plan the Christmas party.  Is this a ladder to promotion and a way for my bosses to see me in action, or something even worse than being poked with shitty stick".

I have been on a few social committees and there are some perks to the job.  

Free sandwiches at the internal planning meetings. Maybe some of the overstock of Tab and Pepsi Zero from the client fridges. The chance to taste the canapés to be served at the event.   A succession of small glasses of wine at said tastings to select the drink.  A password protected link to a website showing six 40-something year old men playing "Sex on Fire" whilst a 23 year old in a short skirt belts out the lyrics as if she was on X-factor showing how many notes she can fit in a single syllable.

You also get to have some chats with the finance director and the partner designated to supervise the party.

However the downsides are legion. 

Every choice you make will be be criticised and subject to scrutiny. Some petty partner you have never heard of will be asking you why you selected this venue or that date, who are the "we the social committee" you referred to in your email announcing the plan and on what basis you were selected and authorised, all of which should properly be addressed to the managing partner but for the usual reasons never will. Your email sending out this selection will itself generate a barrage of out of office replies leaving your inbox in suspension due to being over capacity.

The date won't work for the matrimonial team as its the day when they write their articles for the free local glossy mags talking about New Year being the busiest time of the year for divorces.  You know, the same articles as ever other matrimonial team writes which never produce any business.  Nor will it work for corporate as its too close to Christmas, nor for property as it is not close enough, nor for tax as it clashes with the visit of their biggest tax avoider client. Nor anybody else as they wont agree to something which any other department agrees to.

The chats you have with the FD will solely relate to the fact that the budget is being reduced and you can only have one glass of house white or red per head and only canapés from the "basic" menu not the luxury menu with two protein based choices and the mini beef and Yorkshire puddings. An you can't have a band AND and DJ.  And no mini casino, only giant Jenga in the corner.  And fee earners have to pay £15 per head. And so do support staff. And you must collect that money.

You will have had tastings at The Savoy and The Clove Club but the final venue will be downstairs at the Bung Hole Tavern.

  "The band performed at one of our previous do's"

The Social Committee itself will be dominated by one member of the support staff who has worked at the firm for 27 years and knows where all the skeletons are buried and who slept with who.  They are untouchable, bullet proof.  They even have their own office hours and a desk bigger than the managing partner's, but in a nicer part of the building.  With pot plants that are real and not plastic.  There is no way your opinion or choice will count for anything as between the old timer and the structure of the Social Committee there is no way you can have any bearing on the plans.  No mud will ever stick to the "old timer", the partner in charge or the FD - you are the sacrificial lamb.

 "This is how we weight the decisions"

On the night, you spend your time sorting out fights and complaints  - and that's only before you go, when you tell your partner that this year it's no partners (even though every previous yer they bitched like mad that they were expected to go).

After the party there will be an email sent around the office from the senior partner thanking the old timer by name and the "rest of her Committee" for a great night. Swiftly followed by a succession of "helpful" comments from the rest of the firm about what could have been done better and why didn't you do it here and then and with those and next to this and user it. Some of which may be useful but which are never provided before, but only too late, to allow the giver of the advice the satisfaction of feeling that they could have made it a great night without the bother of having that theory tested.

So unless you have the thickest skin in the world, or a cousin at an events company who will give you 10% of the bill as a backhander it’s a no from me.




.... read more >
"....and then I went bareback whale riding in Tooting Lido....."
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5
31 March 2017
A reader writes....

I'm noticing that I can't stand my colleague telling me all about her long weekend and she never seems to shut up. It's awkward as we share an office but I feel like screaming "can you please just STOP talking!!? "

What should I do?"

You tend to get two types of "weekend sharers" in an office -  the type who never do anything except stand in a field watching children do sport and then repositioning them afterwards, and the type who are meeting for breakfast, elevenses, brunch, high tea, pre-prandial cocktails and then going to an experimental supper club based on gluten free vegetables cooked by an Amharic shaman in a water treatment plant above the Hillingdon to Hackney post office railway.

 
"....and then we chose our own turtle for supper...."

Of course the whole point of being the latter is to tell you all about it.  A life lived alone is no life at all.  Look at all these lifestyle bloggers compelled to shout their life story into an empty and uncaring void.

I feel you have a few courses of action:

1) try to channel her activities into an area which interests you.  It may be cooking, travel, BDSM, human rights, films, BDSM films or whatever, so that you can perhaps get something out of those discussions.

2) turn into a topper, who can top every story she tells with an even better and more exciting, hip and shallow story, so that she soon gives up downloading her weekend to you.

3) come in one Monday and tell her that your partner died on Saturday and weekends are now too painful to talk about. Except for "Weekend at Bernie's" which of course remains your favourite film.

4) complain to HR that your are being victimised as she won't stop talking about her weekend and that is a form of bullying as you don't have exciting weekends (falling into the first category above) and you are putting the firm on notice that you will be logging the incidence of bullying.  And writing to the Law Society Gazette to make the situation clear.  Which will no doubt result in a massive campaign on behalf of all solicitors to change the workplace,  co-ordinated by the Law Society, taking ten years to get going and resulting in nothing. 

5)  stop being such a miserable old fart and enjoy someone else's happiness and enjoy the sociability and camaraderie of your room-mate, which you so obviously lack.  You are set fair for partner.


"Here's what I did at the weekend"

Get a life (literally and metaphorically).


.... read more >
The Holy Grail
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3
24 March 2017

The Equity Partnership


"How do I refuse a promotion to equity without damaging my prospects? Last week the senior partner sidled up to me and suggested that we talk about me becoming a full equity partner.  However I don't want to put my home on the line for the sake of MAYBE getting some more pay and some enhanced status. How do I say no without damaging my career?"


All I ever read about now is firms going bust.  Big firms are no longer safe and small firms live from hand to mouth.

Equity is a busted model. Why this is deemed desirable for law firms when almost every other organisation realises that the limited company is the right way to go is unbelievable. Why move to a variable and uncertain salary, with personal risk, when any decent organisation should reward you according to productivity and contribution with no requirement to accept having to sell your house if the other partners (over whom you have no control) or yourself (more likely in my case!) mess it up? Promotion on ability, not based on whether you have mortgaged your house to the firm’s bank, should be the rule. The Practice Manager considers what to do with your capital contribution.


The irony is that once you put aside the old fashioned view that partnership is the goal of private practice, there are many alternatives.  All these titles such as “Legal Director” and so on work just fine. Whilst I was as snobbish as the next person when these titles were introduced (just sliding another rung on the top of the ladder), equity is not for everyone.   The way to do this is to appeal to the partnership’s greed - another equity partner dilutes the profits per partner.  It muddies the decision making process (theoretically…) and it sets up new rivalries and insecurities in the partnership.  Since the only real reason to get you into partnership is to (a) get their hands on your capital as they need the cash or (b) lock you in and stop you leaving, neither of them are designed to appeal to YOU.  Offer to accept a longer notice period in your contract (which can always be dropped when you come to leave) and remind them that you are helping their profits which flatter them in the profits league table.


If that fails, just say “my partner won’t let me take on any liabilities” and the male dominated partnership will sympathise with your predicament and immediately accept that as a valid reason.


Of course accepting equity is a test of your loyalty but one that perhaps should no longer be required. It’s time to come up with a new structure for law firms.  


What appeals most to Roffers?


.... read more >
Hmmm... The Smell of It....
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1
15 March 2017



A reader writes... and please keep the problems coming).

“The trainee who I share an office with has really bad BO. How do I address this issue?”

It’s not simple…..blah blah blah…. could be a sign of stress….blah blah blah….. may be a sign of them having problems at home…….maybe they have accommodation problems…..blah blah blah……no matter how many times people wash some still have odour problems…..call HR ……after a training day when the trainee will have been near many people…… ask it to be anonymous…..blah blah blah…. HR will call them and they will speak to them and see if they need help….blah blah blah….if “HR” is not listed in the phone directory try “Human Capital Management” as law is a people business (like yeah….).  You are doing the decent thing - the trainee would be mortified to know and they will appreciate being helped in a sensitive way. 



 "It's standard for new Trainees - your armpit please" 

Or you post a can of BO basher to them in the internal mail and suggest they use it.  Signed “a well wisher”.

 


 "To the Trainee - from XX"

 

Or you start a water polo team and insist you train every day.  First thing. With team shower gel. I recommend “Insignia” - it’s all over.

Or you learn to love it, valuing it as the musky scent of raw humanity (although to be fair the phrase “really bad BO” does make it sound hard to love).

Or you move job - and when on interview the question “why are you moving?” comes up - tell them this sorry tale (and don’t mention those allegations of misbehaviour at the Christmas party or the forwarding of an email regarding the flavoursome properties of your intimate fluids to the whole world).  It may be drastic but then really bad BO is serious as well. Enjoy!

.... read more >
Ring of Power
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1
10 March 2017

A reader writes.... "The other day someone brought two trays of Crosstown doughnuts into the office.  I have the “kitchenette” in line of sight of my desk so I was able to see them arrive.  In this first few seconds I was able to get in there - say happy birthday to the generous giver - and get my prize back to my desk.  With a cup of tea.  I have to say it went down pretty well.  Creme Brulee, my favourite.


Most of my team are women and with the rise in price of ClassPass people are trying to get their the maximum value from that so I felt there was a window of opportunity to try more of the farinaceous fancies.


After about 4 minutes the email announcing the doughnuts went round. I was then able to go up again in the hubbub and join in the chat. Whilst we stood around the trays admiring the doughnuts I managed to get half of a Belgian chocolate truffle ring and half of a Chai Tea with Chai Glaze and Pistachios. Both delicious I must say but I was most pleasantly surprised by the chocolate one.  Having half a doughnut, I had it in my mind that the other half may be languishing later.


After lunch I was passing and I stuck my head in.  I had a Matcha Tea Ring (not as painful as it sounds). Whilst I was picking that up I stuffed the orphaned half of the Belgian Chocolate Truffle into my mouth. It turns out you can get half a doughnut in your mouth without even breaking step. The office kitchen


Around 3pm I had a Vanilla Bean iced ring to cleanse my palate. I used a variation on the cutting in half tactic and had half as I poured my tea and the other half made it back to my desk, wrapped in some of the industrial kitchen roll, so as to make it look like I was perhaps mopping up a spillage at my desk.


About 45 minutes after that I saw my boss going into the kitchen so I wandered over to join her and get some quality face time.  I managed to work the doughnuts into the chat and suggested that we may as well try them, as we were there.  She said that as she was going to a class at Lomax she couldn't partake.  So I suggested I have hers and I ate it with what I hope was the look of someone who had never had one before.


At home time I was just gathering my coat and manbag and saw there were 2 left.  Raspberry Jam (a classic) and Chilli Chocolate.  I know enough about doughnuts to know that they wouldn't be as nice the next day so I took them home for my girlfriend.  


My question is, how many doughnuts is too many?


P.s.  My girlfriend didn’t like the ones I took home so I ate them in the end.  Late that night for the first and at breakfast the next day for the second.  It’s true - they aren’t as nice on the next day."




Answer.  However many you have managed to eat when you are having your heart attack is too many.  (But I do agree the Creme Brulee is the best.)
.... read more >
"Let Him Have It"
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3
02 March 2017


Thank you to those who have submitted problems - please remember to post any problems in the comments section below for The Legal Agony to carry out due diligence into the issue.

Now, a problem of a reader.


“Now that I am 10.5 PQE and am quite sure that law is super boring, I realise that I have nothing at all to look forward to and that my ageing parents, who have never done anything fun or worthwhile in their lives, have things as good as they get.


Should I commit suicide by cop?”



Let’s break down your problem:


10.5 years qualified:  Yes, if you are quite sure that law is super boring I’m afraid it's not going to get better.  The early years are filled with learning (which some enjoy), (generally) a good salary and some status.  If you are in a larger firm, you get a ready made group of friends in the trainees and NQs.  You probably have a boyfriend or girlfriend who is a lawyer and you enjoy the weekends in expensive restaurants and the skiing trips.  All your friends work similar hours and your social life fits with your working hours.


However, over time you notice the cynicism and disillusionment setting in. Some people are leaving to do something else. Some people find that the life and stress of the law doesn't work with a young family.  Man or woman, there’s only so much texting from the corner of Legz Akimbo children's gymnastics a parent can do and not feel they are neglectful of both child and job. By the time you get to 10.5 years your friends are dropping like flies.  Contemporaries who are bankers, accountants, entrepreneurs or even estate agents all seem to be doing better than you. Even the people from law school who seemed marked for mediocrity are partners ahead of you. Those friends who took a job in a small provincial practice are doing very nicely, living in the Old Rectory with paddock space, children at private school and garaging for the speedboat, whilst you are in a one bedroom flat in Queen's Park, “living the dream”.


It’s like the 7 year itch in a relationship - except that it starts at about 4 years and continues until retirement. However in this case there is something better out there and the grass really is greener.


Super boring:  Yes I agree - even when I did work experience I found it excruciatingly dull.  It was only the people I worked with and the social life in a large firm which made it tolerable, until the social life drops away and you are left only with the work.  


“You wanna see a REALLY boring job”


Nothing to look forward to:  We can all become institutionalised in work and, as our horizons close in around us, we lose track of what excites and interests us. Between the office, the gym and/or pub, the family and the odd foreign holiday, we concentrate on short term gratification as a reward for the daily grind, rather than aiming for long term satisfaction.  The challenge of major change is scary and it is easy to lose your nerve and go back to the job you know. You console yourself with a holiday or a new phone or some other low hanging fruit, which gives you a quick and easy win, with a release of serotonin, and temporary relief from the unhappiness of the real problem. However you have to reconnect with yourself and what makes YOU happy. You deserve - and need - to do that.


John, I’d love to talk about the gaping void I feel in my life, the hopelessness that hits me like a punch in the eye every time I start my computer in the morning, but I have so much work to do! I’ve got at least three hours of unimportant e-mail to reply to before calling the prospects who said ‘no’ yesterday. Gotta run!”

Tim Ferris, "the 4 hour work week"



Ageing parents:  Be kind - we will all be there ourselves too enough. Indeed some of us may already be ageing. From 17 it's all downhill.


Who have never done anything fun or worthwhile in their lives:  Your parent’s generation probably did lots of fun things when you were younger and they just didn't bother to tell you about it.  Wife swapping was big, as was bridge, gin and tonic and caravanning.  Ask them to tell you some stories.  As for worthwhile, well I guess they raised you, so it’s up to you to decide whether that counts.  


As good as it gets:  Unfortunately this is the condition of all those generations which followed the baby boom and Thatcher’s Britain. The rise in house prices, drop in price of consumer goods, improvement in medical care and most importantly the availability of cheap wine delivered to the door have all made the condition of the “older” generations reach a level which will never be bettered. Whereas we “younger” generations face environmental risks, nationalist politics, the death of globalism and the increase in the subscription for Netflix, which combine to make our prospects seem as bleak as any since the industrial revolution.  Even those who survived the First World War at least had a few years where they thought they had fought the war to end all wars.


Suicide by cop: In this day and age where police are increasingly armed it is probably quite easy to go outside with a table leg in a plastic bag or the wrong skin shade and have it all ended for you. However I can't help feeling that there may be a better way. To live, that is, not a better way to end it all.   I am not alone in being convinced that many people in legal practice are suffering from some form of depression - see here.


So:  Use this realisation of what is wrong with your life to focus that energy on reconnecting with what makes you happy.  It may be enough to get in touch again with hobbies, interests, old friends, exercise, etc.  It may be that you can change the way you work or where you work to find some interest once again. Or it may be that you decide to leave law.  Ask your parents to give you some of that money they have amassed or let you move in with them for a year and help you to transition to a new and satisfying career.  Even though your parents spent years working to raise you and give you the advantages to let you become a lawyer, they I am sure only want you to be happy and, if they can, use some of those material things to help you escape. It's waiting out there for you.


.... read more >
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
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3
27 February 2017

Problem of a reader….


“I am a secretary at a smallish law firm and I have been offered a training contract starting in a year.  However I have now been offered a job as a paralegal at a well known mid-sized firm.  If I take the paralegal job then I may be able to use that to get a training contract at that bigger and more prestigious Name firm but there is no guarantee.


The job market is so screwed that the paralegal job pays much less than my secretary job but if I get a training contract at the new firm it pays more than I would get as a trainee at my current firm.  I am sure that the prestige of having that Name firm on my CV will be much better for my career.  On qualification I will earn much more at the Name firm or others of that ilk than at my current place.


So do I risk the certainty of a training contract for the possibility of a TC at a Name firm somewhere down the line?”


The old fashioned answer:


I am clear on my advice.  Stay where you are and take the certainty of the TC and then once you are qualified you can move on.  The market always goes up and down and in a bad market everyone struggles to move but in a good market you can easily move up to a Name firm from a small country firm, especially if you have good exam results (which still weirdly obsess big law and law generally).  You will learn some basic skills at a small firm which will stand you in good stead, such as how to sell, how to build a client base and how to speak to clients and actually give advice. You will also know how to enlarge and clear a jam on the photocopier which is the most useful talent you will ever acquire.


 "All this to look forward to"

I know from your longer letter that you have the clear promise of a job in litigation which is where you work now as a secretary and you will be able to see your path to qualification without any risks.  Yes you may get some more money from the Name firm but if you figure in the reduced salary as a paralegal for at least 2 years and the risk that you will not get a TC, the extra money is pretty minimal and it's not worth risking the future long career for a possible short term gain.   Break your career down into small sections and focus on each stage and once you get to the end of that stage, you can move on to the next.  Get the TC, get the NQ role, get some experience, move job at 2PQE and then onward and as far up the ladder as you can get.  To paraphrase the poet Oleta Adams “I don’t care how you get there, just get there if you can”. "Which way now?"


This career path is designed that if you fall - or are pushed - off the ladder, the higher you are, the more rungs there are beneath you which you may be able to grab on the way down before you hit the bottom.


Now the modern answer I want to give you:


Leave.  Take the job.  Go with your gut.  Things work out the way they are supposed to. Kismet. Onward and Upward.                     

                      

Don't dwell on the risks (like lawyers are trained to do) but rather look at the opportunities. Make the change - especially as at your stage these things will all add to your experience and your knowledge.  You may find yourself exposed to new environments, people, offices, practices and skills, new areas such as property or family and then, when you actually try them, find out you don't actually f*cking hate them.

     

It may be the move which sets you free.  You may get the Name firm job and the TC you hope for.  But if you don’t get it, you will have a different path and maybe end up in a whole new area instead of being trapped doing litigation. Maybe move out of law altogether.


Without moving, nothing would have shaken you from that path but you will be glad that you did get shaken from it  - or fell off it - and ended up landing in a more interesting area.                        


Seeing the world will make you change your views.  


Law can be an incredibly rewarding and stimulating professional but there is a long career ahead of you and you want to see all of the options and areas you could experience.  People are so of the view that the TC is the be all and end all that they let that goal cloud their vision. I want us to start to realise that we need to get a firm and job that works for US.  It’s our job and our career and we should make sure we have seen all that we can before we sign our life away.                       


Like "is it the right place", "is it the right offer", "is it the right team", "might I accidentally murder the crotchety old bugger in property litigation if I stay where I am" etc etc?  All those proper, sensible considerations fall by the wayside, but they shouldn't. We are begging them for jobs but they should be wooing us.


For instance maybe you’ll do criminal, maybe you’ll discover you love scum bags, love going to court, find out you love you a moiderer.  Maybe you’ll marry Robert Maudsley.   "The course of true love never did run smooth" The world is your lobster…..


.... read more >
Network Your Way Round THIS
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2
16 February 2017

A reader writes....“Networking events - are they a waste of time?”


Most networking events are agony. You turn up with your polished shoes and wearing your best outfit and you have to walk into a room of strangers and project a version of yourself which makes sophisticated and experienced business people trust and admire you and want to spend their money with you.  


If you have ever been to one of those commercial small business networking events, you can see there are some people just made for these events.  You meet people with 500 cards who come and talk to you for 30 seconds, tell you that they are video producers or run courses on excel, stick a card in your hand and then move on.  Every now and then you see them cutting across your line of sight, never duplicating their targets, never failing to get their message across.


Most lawyers aren’t like that.  You walk into a room and get stuck with one group.  99% of the time that groups consists mostly of other lawyers - there's some gravitational force which draws them together in a group, like the process after the big bang which gathered the swirling masses of gases together to form the first stars.  If you are really lucky, for the other 1% of the time they are people you knew before you got there.  


If you have recently been sent on a “Working the Room” course, you may be optimistic.  Your head will be full of how to enter groups and introduce yourself, how not to get stuck in a “dead end” couple and how to bring others into the conversation so that you can then move away.  So you go for it. You move and shake and finally hit that group of real business people. In your area of expertise - and not queuing for the coats. How it should work


What do you do for conversation? Start at A and work through to Z?  “Do you like apples?” “Have you got a boxer dog?” “What about the Coelacanth?”  That's certainly one way of doing it. Eventually it will work.


The other way is to worthily try and engage people in talk about work and what projects they have on and how busy they are.  The only virtue of this is that it allows people to big themselves up and say they are all really busy and doing lots of exciting projects with many irons in the fire, whilst you nod and smile at them like Nigel Farage to Donald Trump. How it actually works


Of course the alternative method is to actually relate to people like a human being and understand that everybody else is in the same boat, nobody knows anyone there, everyone is there just for work and would much rather be at the cinema, bowling, writing their first novel or wearing a gimp mask in the Torture Garden and this is simply a task that has to be done.  


Ask people what are their passions, what would they rather be doing, look like you want to get to know them as a real person, not simply as a potential purchaser of legal services. People do business with people they like. So go on, show a little bit of the real you (but not the bit that goes to the Torture Garden - not just yet.)


I think networking events are designed purely for the attendees’ internal market, whereby they can circulate an email to everybody saying they are going to this event, then the next day say that they can't make it (as they have another 7 events at the same time) and unless someone goes in their place the whole event will be a disaster for the organiser who is a power referrer and the 200 other attendees will be desolate.  Then they send another email the next day revealing that in fact they did go and it was amazing and they made incredible contacts.

  "My new client"

Of course you can just say to your internal market that you are going and then not bother to turn up.  If anyone checks up, you say you suddenly had a late night call from a client who was overseas and you couldn't get there.   At the end of the day no one expects you to make any contact from a networking event - it is simply a means of ensuring that your colleagues are “putting in the hours" as much as you and, if you are a manager, a way of making sure your subordinates have a crap evening just like you used to have when you had to go to Insurance Professionals / the organising group for the sponsored bed push of the local Lions club / Women in Business / Men in Business Looking To Avoid Women / Women Looking To Get Business Whilst Not Having To Speak To Men About It.


Networking events - they're a nightmare.  And useless.  Just say “No”.


.... read more >
I'm Cleanin' Out My Closet
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4
09 February 2017

A reader writes.... “Problem of a "friend": he’s not out as gay at work, mainly because the supervising partner in the department is a raging homophobe. The partner is too powerful within the department to be dismissed (brings in mad dolla). He also dresses up his homophobia as (awful) gags etc, managing to appear to hover on right side of the 'I'm just an un-PC buffoon' line. Main thing is if my friend comes out the closet, he fears the partner will subtly manage him out, turn off deal tap etc. Solution?”


So, it depends on how much he values his job.  The Legal Agony has consulted and we have come up with three solid options.  In this response I use “you” and “your friend” interchangeably and nothing should be read into the use of one term or another.


1) Come out and be the best employee there is, so the boss (let’s call him Mad Dolla), can't manage you out. Use that position as the best employee as a platform to try and change the culture.  This involves putting your head above the parapet and also (unfairly) having to be better than the rest to make the grade.  If you don’t know any other openly gay lawyers and want to know what this involves, the easiest way is to have a chat with a woman* who made partner after having children….. or before having children but whilst still of “childbearing age”.


2) Stay in the closet.  Live that lie.  Hide your FAB-U-LOUS true self, talk about the “other half” but never reveal their name. Get promoted, live your whole professional life behind a mask and retire, still in that closet.  You can’t even make a move on that gorgeous big bear in Marketing, even though he’s a dead cert. What a waste. "It's my girlfriend  ....  no we weren't in Kansas"



3) Recognise that a firm which values a homophobe who makes money over being an inclusive place is not somewhere you want to work, so take your considerable talents to a competitor that will appreciate them more.  As well as the technical gifts you will bring to your new firm, you will also bring some positive diversity.  As the SRA and the Law Society love a diversity survey, that’s a selling point to any employer.  I’m convinced a deafening klaxon goes off and a dusty bottle of Pomagne is produced from the cupboard somewhere in a basement in Redditch when someone ticks a box other than “white heterosexual” on the survey. For those of you younger than 73.

Other options, less straightforward:


4) Your friend could harness the majesty of the law to fight for his rights.  As we know, “the law” and “justice” are two different things and we may ask for one but get the other…. and it's a lottery as to which of the two you get.  In any event he should also keep a diary and note Mad Dolla’s homophobic comments.  It is simply precautionary in this litigious age (bloody lawyers) and whilst this may not be about money, if the situation becomes untenable then you need the paperwork.  You would be stopping others suffering the same treatment that you have to suffer. However you would inevitably have to move on before you launch your claim.


5)  Most firms are trying to move forwards in their attitudes (whether from a moral conviction that discrimination is wrong or from a business point of view, fearing an audit from a large client).  All firms will recognise that homophobia in the workplace is unacceptable and illegal but Mad Dolla may be able to shrug that off. However, Mad Dolla may have enemies and personal enmity always triumphs over business sense in a law firm, so if the right people hear of the issues then your friend may be able to unleash the political machine to get Mad Dolla out. An anonymous disclosure to HR? Nominating the firm for the Golden Turd on RoF? (Combined with a concerted campaign of shitting on the floor of the bogs and weeing in shoes, the firm should at least get in the top 5.)   If you are the rising star of the team you could use the resulting power vacuum to rise to a position where you can introduce a culture of tolerance, benevolence and openness.   Or terror, depending on your style.   "My Mentor" Or at least no longer have to endure comments of “sherry for the lady” and “backs to the wall boys” every time you go to the team drinks.


Obviously the UNFORGIVABLE crime is the dispensing of awful gags.  It may be that the Human Rights Act could assist - Article 3 - no torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  Get in quick before Brexit-means-Brexit takes away those rights and raise funding through Kickstarter and pursue it all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. I’m with you.  Let’s ban Trump, burnt toast and re-runs of Rude Tube whilst we’re at it.


Let's make the world a better place - for you and for me and the entire human race. Let’s MARCH!

*Other discriminated-against minorities are available.  Sadly in a law firm they are all even harder to find than a newly made-up female partner with children.



 

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