It’s not just the credit crisis creating panic at law firms. Over at the Bishopsgate office of Latham & Watkins, partner Bill Voge recently had to abruptly abandon an interview with one of Tulkinghorn’s scribes when a fire alarm rang through the US firm’s corridors.
“I’ve got to go,” Voge barked. “I don’t think this is a drill.”
Tulkinghorn was naturally suspicious. Was this a ruse of Voge’s to avoid some tough questioning?
But no, Voge was bang on. Anyone outside Latham’s EC2 building last Wednesday afternoon (15 April) would have seen the firm’s employees huddled in the British sun (ie freezing) and waiting to be given the all-clear.
Minutes later Voge was back on the blower, alarm over and mystery fire extinguished. Much like the legal careers of a fair few Latham lawyers. Tulkinghorn wonders if any of them were in the vicinity with a match.
Lav in a hot climate
Picture the scene: you’re in an important business meeting with government officials and nature calls. But, this being Southern Sudan, there’s no toilet in the building. Just such an embarrassing predicament faced an unnamed partner at a UK firm. The story is several months old but still drew a blush when told to one of Tulkinghorn’s spies last week.
The lawyer in question was so desperate that he risked a severe internal injury if he crossed his legs and tried to see out the meeting. The room was lavishly decorated with a flat-screen television, so the partner assumed that there would be a suitable facility on site.
He was wrong, and was left with no choice but to venture outside and, in a scene reminiscent of Bromley town centre on a Saturday night, go against a wall.
Any trace of dignity was finally flushed away when an armed guard was called in to escort the partner to an appropriate spot (again, a scene reminiscent of a Saturday night in Bromley).
Tulkinghorn will spare the man any further embarrasment by not revealing his identity.
But one security guard in Northeast Africa will never forget his face, nor the sight of a smartly dressed man hurriedly urinating against the side of his compound.
Tulkinghorn always enjoys a good chortle. So thanks to Lewis Silkin supplier Avanquest Solutions for sending over an hilariously hyperbolic press release last Wednesday (15 April) that trumpeted the 10-year anniversary of something it calls “unified messaging”.
“Unified what?” you ask. Good question. And, had you been furnished with said press release, you’d have been none the wiser.
“When unified messaging was first introduced to the firm by their IT director, Jan Durant, AVST’s CallXpress was supplied by Avanquest and integrated with a Mitel PBX, Novell’s GroupWise and Citrix,” the unintelligible missive blared.
Eventually, after much head-scratching and re-reading, Tulkinghorn managed to unearth some buried meaning among the verbiage. What this guff was celebrating was the ability of its lawyers to check their emails and voice messages when they were out of the office. And that was about it.
The press release, however, put it somewhat differently. “Unified communication is a great asset to the practice. It is like electricity, it is always there.”
Just like dodgy PR.
God knows it’s tough out there these days for young lawyers, but surely this is taking it too far?
A new book has just been published aimed at demystifying the law for three- to eight-year-olds. The “enchanting” book, My Mommy is a Lawyer, is described thus by the publicity blurb: “Finally, a book that describes what mommy does at work with wonderful pictures and descriptive phrases… this day-in-the-life teaches your child an otherwise difficult career to describe!”
Surely not that difficult? Go in to a windowless box, spend all day proofing documents, go home. There, Tulkinghorn has just saved you $16.95.