27 May 2003
Ideas include: going back to university and doing media studies, because three million other students can’t be wrong; retraining as a legal secretary, or as a secretary full stop (“You should see the faces of the female trainees when I say that,” he says. “Like a bulldog chewing a wasp”); working at McDonald’s (“You can advise them on being sued for serving hot coffee,” he informs them. “You’ll make team leader in no time”); and becoming an accountant, except he can’t think of anything funny to say about that.
“And remember!” he’ll say gaily to them, as they’re standing over the photocopier just beginning the evening shift while he breezes home to his loving wife and family. “You’ll never get paid so well in any other profession.”
His meanest act has been to draw up a lunch rota for the department, whereby the trainees can bid to buy the partners’ lunchtime sandwiches, in the hope of a good word going in at contract time. Extra Brownie points go to the ones who can afford Marks & Spencer or the hideously expensive Italian deli round the corner, and black looks and mutterings about team loyalty go to the ones who can only shell out for ham rolls from the canteen.
Naturally, all the other lawyers think this is hilarious, and all the trainees simply store up hatred in their hearts until the day they get promoted above him, or get the chance to throw coffee all over him in McDonald’s.
“Seriously, though,” he told me the other day. “It’s a real problem. We’ve now got hundreds of laid-off trainees washing around the system, and they’re all writing to our department.” He threw down the carrier bag he was holding, and about a million CVs spilled out.
“What cruel sadist put you in charge of selecting for interview?” I asked him, but he simply smirked.
The children leapt on the CVs. “Look, here’s one whose first degree was in home economics. What’s that?” asked Subjudice.
“It sounds like a Mickey Mouse subject where the only job you can get is evaluating the thickness of fish finger batter. Definitely not lawyer material,” said the Lawyer.
I considered whacking him over the head with a saucepan and shouting “consumer law” at the top of my voice, but decided against it. He’s quite likely to sue me.
“And here’s one who was head of the Student Law Society,” said Deminimus admiringly – he’s a sucker for authority.
“God no. Don’t want any bossy militants in our firm, thank you very much,” said the Lawyer. “Eurgh. Do-gooders. Leave a nasty taste in the mouth.”
I was interested by now, and picked up another. “Look, this one really did do a Mickey Mouse degree. Leisure and theme park studies, with a specialisation in successful Disney litigation.”
“That sounds great,” said the Lawyer, who is a sucker for big business. “Put it on the possible pile.”
“And how about this?” asked Deminimus. “Double first from Cambridge, top of year at law college, two sporting blues, year out in Venezuela helping the oppressed, and would love to experience the work in your department.”
The Lawyer swallowed, being a bit touchy about the quality of his own degree. “You can be too keen, you know,” he said. “Anyway, let’s give him an experience he hasn’t had before. Put him on the reject pile.”