Last year two topics dominated the conversation: new president Barack Obama and the economy. Tulkinghorn recalls that the Obama era was neatly summed up by one male Linklaters partner who was clearly in awe of Obama’s abs: “There’s a picture of him in his swimming trunks in his book – you should check it out.”
The impact of the economy was summed up on another occasion when Raymond Tooth of divorce firm Sears Tooth offered a little advice for any ladies planning to leave their husbands during the recession: “Wives would be better now to wait, as the courts are being very wary about awards because of the problem of the ability to make payments. Hang on in there until times get better.”
In contrast, Tooth suggested that husbands would be better off getting out now. “You can escape with less,” Tooth claimed.
The year of the cock-up
It’s time once again for Tulkinghorn to don the slippers, settle back with a glass of malt and cast his rheumy eyes fondly over the legal market tales that have made him chortle during the past 12 months.
And didn’t the year kick off in style. Readers may recall news of the Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer lawyer known as “the scariest partner in law”. Restructuring high chieftain Ken Baird not only has the ability to repeatedly throw a pen into a cup from a distance of around five feet, and he is also reputed to have a similar sharp-shooting proficiency with a shotgun. Not a man to cross in the partners’ meeting.
Talking of scary, who could forget former Dickson Minto partner Philip Anderson’s antics in a Scottish restaurant. The lawyer apparently decided to get his very own Dickson out during a meal with a female companion, leading to a criminal conviction and a £300 fine.
Staying with smut, in January we revealed that Charles Russell was happily mixing porn and billable hours. The firm was reportedly beavering away on a case that saw it snatch a stack of various top-shelf magazines – for research purposes.
Which is fine, except that one keen lawyer decided to put in some extra hours. Tulkinghorn was reliably informed that these research materials went missing in mysterious circumstances once the project had been completed. Good to see lawyers take such pleasure in their work.
Moving into February and an overheard Slaughter and May partner revealed just why the firm is worth every penny of the Government’s £33m. “I was in a phone conference about a year and a half ago with clients who told me that they were having problems raising funds due to something called the credit crunch,” the partner stated. “I said, ‘Credit crunch? That sounds like some sort of breakfast cereal.’”
Here’s one to bear in mind as the Christmas party season gets into its stride. A night out with colleagues for one of Eversheds’ finest ended with the staffer decorating the floor of a black taxi while travelling home.
This was not pleasant for anyone involved, not least this person’s companion, who gamely sorted out the mess in the form of a £65 cleaning bill.
Sadly the expenses claim was refused. Perhaps the mistake was to have printed boldly across the top: “Was sick on taxi floor.”
This old Mansfield
Finally, in one of the best stories of the year, eminent barrister Michael Mansfield QC’s voicemail message was a peach: “Nick nack paddy whack, give the dog a bone. Leave a message on my phone.”
And yes, he sings it.