13 November 2000
Henderson: ...the man offered him six funny coloured beans saying that they had magic powers and could grow a beanstalk high into the sky. So he swapped all his possessions and ran off with the beans as fast as his little legs could carry him.
Pratchard: What a lovely bedtime story Tom. Who wrote it out like that with the picture of the cow? Your little nephew?
Henderson: Alas no. It was Tonkins, a new recruit in corporate. And unfortunately it wasn't a story. It was his response to my question - "What do you know about contract law?" - I blame the universities. I remember when you interviewed him last summer. I thought: 'He's braindead with no commercial awareness or legal knowledge, but heck, he's not a bad senior partner.' Well, now I know. We should never have taken him on.
Pratchard: Why did we?
Henderson: His lack of commercial awareness means I only have to pay him in funny coloured beans. But you know, we should take a long hard look at the standard of the LPC.
Pratchard: Like the soon-to-be-launched City LPC?
Henderson: Don't get me started on that. Those eight "so-called" magic firms with their little scheme. It's elitist for a start, bound to drive a wedge through the profession and cause rifts with current providers of legal education.
Pratchard: And that's bad because ...
Henderson: Because they haven't asked us to take part, you fool. I did phone Slaughters to ask if we could join but the line was bad. Chap said something about "No fork in whey" - probably a farming term but it made little sense. However, it did get me thinking. Young Pinochet, allow me to explain to you The Firm LPC. Run from The Firm Institute of Law, formerly known as Polytechnic Basement, we offer a course in everything a young law grad really needs. You know what I wish I'd been taught? The photocopying trick.
Pratchard: The what?
Henderson: You should always carry a journal around at all times when chatting to friends and generally malingering. Then if someone asks what you're doing, you can be "on the way to the photocopier". Ah, I used that trick many a time when I joined. Of course, I was rumbled one day when old Papa Henderson in corporate wondered how a magazine full of porn related to M&A work. Another lesson is always take a spare jacket to hang over the chair when you leave at night. Looks like your burning the midnight oil. Never use your own phone to make a personal call. And always start in a corner when attempting to solve expert level Minesweeper. Of course, it was easy to do this sort of thing back then, when minor derelictions of duty at The Firm didn't carry the death penalty...
Pratchard: And you propose to teach all this to the youngsters?
Henderson: Why of course.
Pratchard: And what about the, you know, oh what's it called, the thingymajig, the... the law. That's it. Who's going to teach the law?
Henderson: I've got in some actors who were in Chambers on BBC1. They must have picked up a bit of legal knowledge - and they should be able to act the part. Plus they're very cheap - being out of work and all.
Pratchard: I know I'm genetically dim - but how does this solve our recruitment problems?
Henderson: It doesn't. But we'll rake in so much cash flogging the course to all the desperate thickos who don't make it onto the City LPC that we'll be able to afford more magic beans to pay for even more trainees.
Pratchard: Won't that drive down the quality of service even more?
Henderson: To be honest, that doesn't seem to matter. It's almost like we're fictional...
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