Leslie Perrin is managing partner of Osborne Clarke. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
What a lovely time we all had at Legal Monte Carlo. If The Lawyer Awards are the legal sector's Oscars, this is without a doubt its Cannes. Of course, the prevailing mood was not so much topless as legless. What with the location, the stars, the charm school graduates, the omnivorous gaze of the press, this was entertainment with a capital E. Truly the Complete Monte.
Never mind that the dust had barely settled on expense claims up and down the land when Tulkinghorn contrived to smear all managing partners of firms with a London office for behaviour unbecoming. Having never set foot inside the X Club, I'm off the hook – although, I will admit to spending some time (if not money) at Jimmyz, where a small bottle of Heineken costs about £23. Talk about Saturday Night Fever. Either the 70s are not yet over at Jimmyz or it was too post-modern for words. Whatever. The effect of the arrival of a group of female ex-magic circle in-house lawyers on the chest wigged and medallioned punters at this club was something to behold. Testosterone fell in a fine spray on every surface. You should have seen the flares on these guys, and that was just the nostrils. Unlike Tulkinghorn, however, I was unable to spot any foul play – other than some wag collecting cash to send the great but not so good for a weekend break with Betty Ford.
However, the real risk for private practice lawyers at Legal Monte Carlo was not so much in failing to meet the right in-house lawyers but in meeting them and seriously p*****g them off. One great story involved a senior and exalted partner – flown in from transatlantic parts to dine his firm's clients in exotic restaurants – who displayed such prodigious ignorance of who those clients were and what his firm did for them that the last two uses in this sentence of the past tense are entirely appropriate. Yet more evidence that if a firm has lost its soul, you can bet it's kept an ah-soul.
Then there were the helicopter rides for special clients which ended with the pilot chasing sheep up the mountain and the clients throwing up on the helicopter floor. And the firm – predominantly male – that dined a group of in-house lawyers – predominantly female – and talked across them throughout the meal about the Rugby World Cup. Clearly, these guys got their money back from charm school.
Like many, I suspect, I came away with the view that if it's risky to go to Legal Monte Carlo, then it's just as risky not to. The allusion with Cannes is not as casually facetious as it sounds. If Cannes is all about the pitch and the players, so was LMC. And if it's entertainment you want it is always priceless to see what private practice lawyers will go through for a job and the many highly satisfactory revenges that in-house counsel take as recompense.
On our way back to real world, the 8.55 outbound to Nice (a 767 with no reverse thruster history) had a problem with its brakes and then found that the jetty could not be removed. In a gesture of humanity, unique in my experience among European airlines, the captain gave his permission for passengers to use their mobiles while everything was sorted out. Apparently, three partners suffered broken collar bones in the scramble for the overhead lockers – the uncontactable in search of the indispensable so that the unreliable could be added to the unnecessary.