Legal Widow

“Well they’re not democracies, are they Dad?” said Subjudice in a misguided attempt to cheer up her father, who had just read about the latest legal merger and was very down about the whole thing. “I mean, they can do whatever they want, can’t they? If they want you all to move to Outer Mongolia tomorrow you’ll probably have to, won’t you? So a few more bods on the payroll shouldn’t make a difference. Actually, they’re probably oligarchies. Like Russia. You know, from oligos, rule by the few?”The Lawyer looked at her for a full minute before replying. I think he was weighing up whether he would have to go to Outer Mongolia but realised he just didn’t know enough about employment law to argue the toss. Either that or he was wondering just how much that private Greek tuition had cost us. However, Subjudice failed to look subdued.

“Let me put it in language even you’ll understand,” he said. “Imagine you’re on Big Brother, and it’s day 82 or whatever, and you’ve got your game plan all sorted out – partner by age 30, head of department by 35, equity by 40 – and suddenly the door opens and out of nowhere they introduce a new housemate. Or five new housemates. Or 550. Now you’ve got to claw your way over to get back to where you were before they decided to add an extra four names to the letterhead.”

“Yes, I personally think it’s a plot by the manufacturers of headed stationery to keep themselves in business,” I said, even though I knew no one was listening. “It’s like a conspiracy novel. Did you know there’s a top-secret equation that says you can’t get more than eight names on one legal firm’s compliment slips without the reader’s head exploding?”The Lawyer carried on regardless. “Or imagine if Big Brother said it was going to open up the voting to a whole new section of the population – a smug, sneering, metropolitan section of the population that thinks lawyers who live anywhere but Hampstead are just a bunch of thick oiks. You’d be lucky to last to day 83, wouldn’t you?””You’re a bit twitchy, aren’t you?” asked Deminimus. “I can’t believe anyone wants to merge with your little outfit.”

“It’s the winds of change,” said the Lawyer in a spooky voice. “Everyone’s at it. All the little firms suddenly fancy themselves as full-service providers, or they’re not paying attention and they get swallowed up by a big, greedy vulture. All those lazy sods at the top think they can hike up the figures simply by acquiring a whole load of new work or a fat client, or they just want to get back up to strength after a mass defection and they don’t give a toss about the rest of us. What about organic growth? Why is law going mad for mergers when everyone else is backing off them? What about good, old-fashioned risk aversion?”He collapsed at the kitchen table and called weakly for a cup of tea. “Well, I think it’s time you bucked the trend, Dad,” said Subjudice. “That’s what all the best entrepreneurs do. Jump ship from these big, bloated firms and set up a consultancy. Keep it mean, lean and panther-like. You could call yourself Monos – that means alone. Or Atomos – Undivided!”I stared in admiration. Those lessons really paid off, didn’t they?”And Mum could be your secretary!”Alas, no private tuition in the world can stop a teenager from talking absolute rubbish.