Legal Widow

Things are quiet in the office and the Lawyer is perusing the sits vac pages in the hope of a better life. Solicitors being what they are, though, he has a very narrow furrow to plough.
I’ve never understood it: they start off with the whole field of legal work before them, and before their traineeship is over they’re knee-deep in the trench of, say, employment or insolvency. And they never step out – it just goes on getting deeper. At the Lawyer’s stage they’re up to their necks in mud and can just about peer over the top to see that Bill Bloggs in the personal injury furrow is going to have a fantastic year, with a bumper crop of class action suits springing up. If they applied the same logic to MPs, who hop about like rabbits, then Tony Blair would still be a minion at the Treasury. Which is a thought.
Anyway, the Lawyer has been considering going in-house again, not least because if you time it right and the company goes under you get a fantastic pay-off with no stain on your reputation. Legal firms hardly ever go broke: they just break up and the poor lawyers get counselling and cups of tea and instantly poached by competitors. He’s been researching share prices and world markets, but we think it’s high-risk: what if the company stays solvent and he actually has to do some work? At least in private practice you can hide from your clients, or keep them at bay by wielding vicious secretaries or blocking them with voice mail. In-house, they have a nasty habit of turning up at your door.
“At least I’d have a door,” moaned the Lawyer, who has never forgiven the firm for going open plan. He brandished the jobs section at me. “Look, I could easily do my job in Exeter. Or Newcastle. Somewhere near the sea, anyway.”
The children started yelling about surfing, which they enjoyed in Cornwall, but in case he’s serious about looking for another job (because there is no way I’m packing up the house, finding a new place to live and getting the children into new schools) I reminded him of some of the terrible job interviews he’s been to in the past.
“What time does your post land on your desk?” asked one of the more macho firms, the one that offered free divorce settlements as part of the pay package. “Er – after nine?” offered the Lawyer, hesitantly, because he gets his secretary to deal with most of it. “Well, here you can expect it at 7.30am,” said the interviewer, as if this was a selling point. Incredibly, it was only when he was told he could eat what he killed that he decided the place wasn’t for him.
Or the one where you have to sign up to the firm’s mission statements every morning, because the system won’t let you log on until you’ve typed: “I value the client above my firstborn,” and “I’m not hitting the exit until I hit target.” That was the one that offered separate interviews to the solicitors’ partners, to see if they would be suitable members of the “firm family”. I’m sorry to say that Liability threw up all over the interviewer and then stole her purse when she was running around looking for tissues.
Luckily, there are rumours that the open plan experiment in his current firm has foundered, and the Lawyer may be getting an office after all. I think we’re safe in the old rut for a few years yet.