The corporate downturn certainly restricted the largesse of City lawyers when entertaining clients. But, with optimism returning, many have been spotted dusting down the corporate cards ready for action. Time, then, for a cautionary tale before you all get too carried away.
Back in the day, firms’ key rainmakers could mix it with the best of the Petrus-loving bankers. Take the example of one former magic circle partner. Said lawyer took a merry (and large) band of clients to Twickenham. The motley gaggle of loafers enjoyed a lovely day out at the firm’s expense – rugby, food, and of course plenty of liquid refreshment. As the day became night and thoughts turned to home, their generous host took it upon himself to signal the full extent of his firm’s generosity. Gleefully waving his corporate card, the kind-hearted soul (well, it wasn’t his money) offered the entire pub taxis home. Equally gleefully, they all jumped at the chance of avoiding the rigours of public transport, adding several thousand pounds to the day’s bill.
This, though, was hardly an isolated incident: at the year-end, the magic circle firm was left with a staggering £1m in unaccounted taxi bills.
Now that might sound a lot, but it’s really only the equivalent of 81 bottles of 1947 Chateau Petrus Pomerol.