Legal Widow

Bad news in the post for the Lawyer. His old university has sent out the
college yearbook detailing who has given what to the endowment fund.

“Look here,” he said, deeply shocked. “Jeremy Fisher is in the
£1,000-£4,999 category. The sod mu…


Bad news in the post for the Lawyer. His old university has sent out the college yearbook detailing who has given what to the endowment fund.

“Look here,” he said, deeply shocked. “Jeremy Fisher is in the £1,000-£4,999 category. The sod must have made equity at last.”

“Probably a tax dodge,” I said, and the Lawyer agreed, running through the list and pointing out the law students who have been especially generous. “Look! Ben Bunny gave at least £11,000! Why do they do it? Why? Don’t they have mortgages? School fees? I’ll bet they made a killing on the property market. Why didn’t we invest in buy-to-let?”

“Because you were too mean,” I whispered; but he wasn’t listening.

“Wow,” he breathed. “Ginger Pickles is listed here between £27,500 and £54,999. Senior partner at Dontgivem Credit. He might have given them fifty grand. That’s a lot of money. That’s ….”

I cut him off, because once started he can run on in this vein for minutes. Longer than I can be bothered to listen, anyway. “And where are you, darling?” I cooed.

“Here,” he said, pointing. “In the £499 down to… er… £1 category.”

The huge list of names ran on for pages. “The cheapskates’ section,” I said. “I gave them three figures,” he said, nettled. But there’s no getting away from the fact that lawyers are horribly mean when it comes to charity. Our children covenant more than he does: Liability has a selection of maimed donkies, disabled Third World children and blind grannies; Deminimus contributes to keeping our local Third Division football team limping along; even Subjudice gives to something like the Distressed Former Boyband Rejects Society. Whereas the Lawyer can be counted on to cross the street if he catches sight of a Big Issue seller. (He hates it when they talk to him and avoids eye contact. “Why do they keep thanking me?”he once asked. “Do they think I’ll actually give them money for it? It’s a bad example. I can’t thank all the clients who ignore me: they might start expecting me to be polite.”)

The Lawyer simply laughs when the firm emails him to gather pro bono statistics for its latest entry in the ‘Top Employer’ awards, and says he does enough pro bono work when his projects run overtime – and then he blames the boss for underestimating on the tender.

Lawyers, however, show their very worst side when the envelope goes round collecting for leaving presents. I’m not sure whether it’s because lawyers never know who works in their department, or whether they just begrudge someone hitting the escape button, but the amount collected to mark years of work is often pitiful. I’ve had one secretary on the phone in tears because she’d only managed to collect £11.52p for her soon to-depart boss, and that was including a contribution from the Lawyer, his closest teammate. “I gave £2. How much more does she expect a partner to give?” he said.

Because I have worked for more charitable – or perhaps more ruthless – outfits than the law provides for, I went back to the secretary and told her to take the envelope round again, this time writing down the names and the amount that everyone contributed. The competition not to appear mean was astounding: the takings shot up, including a £20 note from the Lawyer, which hurt him more than his recent root canal work.