Yes M'Lord, I see
24 July 2008
Week 5: Amongst the cobbled streets of the Temple
So another week has passed, where is the summer going? This week Ive had the pleasure of working in possibly the quaintest part of London town, the Temple. For those of you who havent experienced the allure of the barristers sanctuary allow me to paint a brief picture. The Temple comprises two Inns of Court, the inner and middle temple, and peacefully rests between the chaotic bustle of The Strand and the noisy embankment of the River Thames. It is the barristers world. The streets are cobbled, the pubs always full to the brim and the picturesque gardens eerily desolate. Dotted around this antiquated institution dont be surprised to find signs such as any person making noise in this Inn will be removed by the porters. It is perhaps the closest Ive ever come to travelling back in time.
Enough of the travel guide talk. What were the few days I spent in chambers like? In a word, quiet. To some extent perhaps this is a symptom of the economic climate and the time of year. Nevertheless, my time spent in chambers was most definitely enjoyable.
True, Im not going to be an Oxbridge graduate so this did place me in the minority. My fellow mini pupil had graduated from Cambridge with a double first and is now moving on to Oxford to study a Bachelor in Civil Law. So imagine my fear when I had to moot against him in front of a member of chambers. All sympathetic comments welcome. In truth, the experience was thoroughly delightful. The barrister who judged the moot was of the pleasant variety, neither brash nor out-spoken, and managed to tie both mini pupils in severe knots that proved impossible to untangle.
I must add that at no point did I feel similar to an inferior being due to my somewhat different university background. Indeed, having met the soon to be latest chambers pupil I was delighted to find out that she was a Birmingham graduate. Small world! Perhaps, just perhaps, being different is not such a bad thing on occasion?
To end, I have one final observation. The difference in atmosphere between chambers and the corporate world of the international law firm is enormous. I cannot describe it; you must experience it for yourself. However, in passing I will simply comment that chambers is the only place I have visited where the toilets on the client floor are considerably worse that those elsewhere in the building! Enough said.
One more week of placement to go! Until then, its time for me to have a much-needed break. I shall catch up with you all shortly.
This week in a word: Archaic
This week likened to a drink: Port. Old, dusty and yet somewhat delightful.
The weeks most embarrassing moment? Come on, even I couldnt achieve one of those in 3 days!
Week four: Inside the corridors of a Midlands giant
Hi all. Granted, typing in your underpants is perhaps not the sort of title you may have been expecting. But hold on a moment if you please. Dont click on the big red button in the top right hand corner of your screen just yet, allow me to explain. A double entendre of fun is to follow. This week has proved to be the most hectic of my short little life to date. So much so, that I now sit here writing whilst shivering under a blanket, suffering from what can only be described as man flu. Hence, my titles first meaning is revealed. The second meaning? An activity a lawyer engages in whilst staying in a hotel and not wishing to crease their suit. At least, so I am reliably informed.
True, the week has been busy. But unfortunately, I have a minimal amount of scandal to entertain you with and no negatives to bore you with. Indeed, after spending my first week in the Midlands mucking around in a water feature it was finally time try my hand at some real work.
My week was brightened considerably by having the opportunity to fly to Belfast on Thursday for a meeting. Given my rather awful sense of direction and my remarkable tendency to get lost even when just around the corner from my own house this had the potential to go seriously wrong. The situation was exacerbated by the fact I had to find my own way from Belfast airport to the meeting place. Fortunately, some kind hearted Irish sole helped me on my way. I do, however, recommend a phrase book for such excursions. Firstly, the dialect baffled me. Secondly, you feel a little rude asking the nice old lady sat opposite you to repeat herself ten times because you dont have a clue what she is saying.
Indeed, the trip gave me an exciting insight into the busy, yet enjoyable, life of a partner. I may be able to guess what youre thinking. A partner unlikely to spare a moment to give you the time of day? Wrong! In fact, I was rather shocked. OK, you may ask, why? Firstly, both partners took the time to fill me in on what the meeting was actually about. Secondly, they were the first to relax with a pint in the upper class coffee house after the meeting whilst indulging in some idle chit chat. The day was, by all accounts, rather pleasant. I even had the opportunity to browse through the shops of Belfast. Admittedly, top of the agenda was an autograph book for one partners young daughter, but enjoyable all the same.
For a light hearted bit of entertainment I shall quickly run this weeks antics of my welsh friend by you. Youll remember the one. He rather disastrously challenged a trainee to a drinking contest last week. This week he has taken to responding to the ladies on his floor with the phrase yes mlady and other such classics. Of course, his drinking habits have continued and he did not fail to disappoint at lunch. Whilst everyone sensibly ordered a coke, my welsh friend shouted Peroni please, a large one. A large one? At lunch? No youre right, he didnt just have one, but two.
This week summed up in a word? Tiring. (But well worth it!)
This week likened to a drink. Champagne. Yes, it really was that good.
This weeks most embarrassing moment? Unknowingly eating a nut, fully aware that I am allergic to them, and thus consequently reddening to such an extent that I resembled an Umpa Lumpa.
Week three Inside the corridors of a Midlands giant
On past form you could be forgiven for thinking that this weeks entry would be packed with a whole host of moronic moaning on my part. Thus, I shall endeavour to surprise. Honestly, Im being serious. No satirical remark to the contrary will follow, I promise. Indeed, Ive enjoyed the week so much I can hardly believe its already over. Yes, I know its another cringe worthy clich窠but time does most certainly fly when youre having fun.
So why no more moaning Myrtle this week? I can suggest only one reason - the people. Far from the awkward silence and dirt-digging that I experienced in my first week, my fellow schemers lacked pomp, pretence and other irritating characteristics that usually cause one to hide away in the office like some sort of creature from a J.R.R. Tolkien novel. Instead, theyre from a breed you dont mind befriending; assured by the fact that there will be more on the conversational agenda than capital punishment come home time. And as an added bonus, the office talent is also a vast improvement on the previous few weeks.
Our first task? Drafting? Research? You couldnt be more wrong. Try this one; find a place with a water feature large enough to recreate the opening scene of the sitcom Friends. OK, after you finish recalling the opening scene, picture this. Seven, suit clad twenty year olds, knee deep in water taking their photograph whilst pulling a ridiculous pose in the middle of a busy shopping street. What a start to the week!
Next task? Find as many random people as possible and ask them if they would mind standing in a phone box together whilst you take their picture. At this point I hear you asking whether I am presently taking the proverbial. Well actually Im being serious. Perhaps this explains why this week has been such good fun. Whilst there are no doubt those who would've turn their noses up at such antics and refuse to get involved, all of my fellow schemers rose to the challenge. I know you dont have to ask whether or not I was on the winning team, the answer is rather self-explanatory.
The weeks good form continued at the various social events. These were made even better by the fact that it seemed as if the trainees actually wanted to be there, rather than being told that they could look elsewhere for a job if they didnt care to show up. One of my fellow summer schemers, who shall remain nameless to spare his blushes, made the fatal mistake of challenging his Welsh trainee counterpart to a drinking challenge. Avoid this at all costs! It will only end up with you sat in the middle of a rather large table whilst swaying, smiling and looking utterly stupid. On the plus side, it may make graduate recruitment chuckle. But beware! The email banter that will follow the next morning may be relentless!
The weeks most embarrassing moment? An odd one this week. The embarrassment flows from thinking of being in another summer schemers situation. (He isnt on my placement). Rumour has it that he had rather too much to drink one evening and told the graduate recruitment lady how much he liked her (if you get my drift).
The week in a word: Fantastic!
All in all, a top week. For now, thats all folks. See you next time.
Week Two Inside the north of England office of a major international firm
Hi all. Ive entitled this weeks entry the crunch for several reasons. Firstly, Ive just finished a week in the corporate department and perhaps unsurprisingly, it proved impossible for a day to pass without the words credit crunch crossing a worried partner or associates lips. Secondly, week two was the crunch of the scheme as Wednesday was the training contract assessment day.
Being the week of the assessment day you may expect that the competitive spirit among my fellow summer schemers wouldve heightened somewhat in comparison to last weeks dirt digging demeanour. Shockingly this simply wasnt the case. Indeed, the mutual fear we all seemed to share created a sense of camaraderie that hadnt been present in the camp last week. Indeed, I even found myself warming to our resident Oxford graduate and on occasion caught myself indulging in polite conversation with him about his young family and Buddhist lifestyle. It seems fear can in fact do strange things to a man.
Sanity was soon restored when each of us gave our three minute presentation to graduate recruitment. Since we were allowed to choose our own topic, the natural choice for any self respecting male was the classic film Top Gun. You shall now appreciate my dismay when our Strand working pet delivered a presentation entitled Reading between the lines, clauses commonly excluded from publishing contracts.
OK, so you think Im pulling your leg, right? Well actually, no. Admittedly, I thought it was perhaps some intellectual prank that I was too slow to grasp. I couldnt have been more wrong. I shall leave you to contemplate the reaction this presentation received. But allow me to give you a push in the right direction with some helpful words lead, balloon, down. To quote a line from that classic film: Son, your egos writing cheques your body cant cash.
For fear of sounding similar to one of BBC 2s Grumpy Old Men, I shall change the subject. This weeks social was a vast improvement on last weeks lack lustre effort. As the night progressed and the liquor flowed the members of the group began to show their true colours. The trainees also began to let us in on some of the office banter that had eluded us in recent times. Use such information in appropriate circumstances only. Its not wise to mention poor Johnnys (no that isnt his real name!) liking of Eastern European women in the presence of a senior partner. This will go down like a three minute presentation on clauses regularly excluded from publishing contracts.
Also, in deference to the Governments new advertising campaign: please drink responsibly. This will save your head from feeling like a piano has just fallen on it when youre sat in the following mornings client meeting.
This weeks most embarrassing moment? Throwing myself onto the office chair only to topple from it backwards, thankfully the office was deserted!
This week likened to a drink. A white wine. A sweet taste with a sharp after bite. (Drink Responsibly)
This week summed up in a word - crunchy.
That shall draw an end to the northern era. Next week I shall update you on my progress in Britains second City. Until then, over and out.
Not quite champagne
Week One: Inside the north of England office of a major international firm
An over used and utterly irritating clich矩t may be, but to say that one could cut the atmosphere at Mondays initial welcome meeting with a knife, and a rather blunt knife at that, is about as close to the truth as it gets.
Initial niceties and pleasantries having been exchanged, the typical awkward silence ensued. Predictably, the silence was sporadically broken by a spontaneous and utterly pointless enquiry made by one of the fellow summer schemers eager to dig out some dirt on their competition. Note to others silence can be golden.
Beware; this situation can be a potentially devastating moment in the socio-political game. Ask too many questions and risk being that annoying person everyone avoids in the bar after work through fear of becoming stuck in tedious conversation, whilst everyone else concentrates on numbing the pains of the week. Ask too few questions and take the chance of being labelled a social recluse; the one with a personality rating of somewhere between 0 and 0.1.
My supervisor. First impressions - middle aged, Irish, no time for young wannabes. Picture my shocked face then, when the first word he utters is a four letter expletive beginning with the sixth letter of the alphabet. Forcibly removed from court on several occasions and prone to irrational and inexplicable outbursts of traditional Gaelic dialect, Jim Carey would be an apt comparison. The highlight of the week, a phone conversation to a fellow solicitor obviously so boring that it became acceptable to hold the phone at arms length whilst making a V sign in the direction of the handset. A seat for neither the faint of heart nor those easily offended by crude language. For all others, top quality entertainment at no cost.
Allow me to apologise. Although some may expect a shocking tale from Tuesday nights social I fear I have to disappoint. It was, by and large, a non-descript affair culminating in one female trainee becoming so intoxicated she had to be carried to the bar for her next drink. Tucked up in bed at 12:30 that evening I reminisced on the debate as to whether the death penalty should still be in force, hosted by our resident RP speaking, Surrey residing, Oxford graduate currently working on the Strand. Seriously, do we have to talk about law 24/7?
This weeks most embarrassing moment? Strolling into the toilet whist whistling The Great Escape theme tune rather loudly, only to bump into the department partner youve yet to meet.
This week likened to a drink. A sparkling wine, Cava. Not quite that high priced Champagne. Ostensibly, plenty of fizz and quite palatable. However, rather likely to go somewhat flat a short while after the cork has been popped.
This week summed up in a word Changeable.
Next weeks outlook is brighter, potentially with some sunny spells as the delights of the corporate department await me. Until we next meet, ciao.