24 June 2002
26 November 2013
6 February 2014
9 September 2013
11 October 2013
25 April 2014
"It's outrageous to accuse lawyers of wanting to eke things out," said the Lawyer, carefully arranging the peas on his plate into a neat figure of eight.
The children, who wanted their pudding, started a slow handclap.
"What?" demanded the Lawyer. "What have I done?"
Because, in spite of all the profession's protests against the Audit Commission's findings, prevarication seems to be a habit with them. I think it starts early. By the second year of the law degree, nearly everyone has realised that they'll never become a super human rights lawyer and free the oppressed masses, but instead will spend their time reassuring small factory owners about the state of their premises/employment relations/export contracts and the like. Nevertheless, they have to study every cough and spit of the law, covering everything from saving the world to distance selling regulations, which is a lot of law to cover. But by the time they realise this, they still have an entire career ahead of them in which to plough, let's be frank, a very narrow legal furrow - small wonder they do it slowly.
This approach is, of course, mirrored at home. No DIY job I have ever asked the Lawyer to do has ever taken less than three years. He has a small army of paint tester pots, because you can't just pick barley white and have done with it, you need to check out almond white, diamond white, what the neighbours did with their bathroom last year, whether mixing two whites together will look nice and what's coming out in the new Dulux range when it hits Homebase.
He leaves screwdrivers and tape measures all over the house, because he always intends to come back to whatever it was he was doing before he was called away to do something else - in the legal profession this is called building up your own practice and having a Busy Portfolio of Clients. Then, of course, he needs the screwdriver for the new job, and not having his long suffering secretary to keep track of where he last left the screwdriver, we have scenes.
Then there's the time-equals-money equation, which means that we have to sit through all the credits in the cinema to make the most of the ticket price, and eat in crowded family eateries where service is appallingly slow - no matter that the kids are bouncing off the walls, it means lunch lasts for hours.
Sadly, the children have picked up his approach to life. Liability has just refused to clean out the rabbit's cage for another week because, she says, the animal has been ignoring her and she needs more cuddles before she'll fulfil her part of the service contract. Meanwhile, Subjudice refuses to play any new CD to the end because it means she'll have to go out and get a new one, and that means breaking into her pocket money - I suppose this equates to the maxim that it costs less to retain an old client than to recruit a new one. And Deminimus recently spent three hours cleaning the Lawyer's car, because he was hoping to bump up the £5 fee to £10, only to be told he should have been on a taximeter arrangement, and "let that be a useful lesson to you". And it was - now he won't do anything unless he can charge by the hour and you're lucky if he'll take the bin out in less than a morning.