Legal Widow

We’ve been playing “What’s my USP?” this weekend, after the Lawyer and his colleagues received a three-line whip from the managing partner to come up with some specialisms that can be fed to the dreaded marketing people.

The managing partner has been much impressed with a national campaign run recently by a rival firm, targeting new markets. The legend “Lettuceleaf Rizla and Taco: We Rock!” appeared, for example, in the music press, above a picture of the managing partner playing a flying V guitar in the hope of attracting some lucrative record company accounts. Then there was the “Lettuceleaf Rizla and Taco: Ahead of the Pack” treatment, showing the managing partner riding with hounds and leaping his mount over the baying dogs below (a piece of pure swank, actually, because the managing partner in question does hunt and wants as many people to know as possible). This appeared in the Financial Times and, oddly, Dog Breeder International, although this may have been a mistake.

So we’ve had to find a unique selling point for my husband. The children enjoy it hugely, although it represents night sweats and dark moments of despair for the Lawyer, who believes his next profit distribution depends on getting the answer right. “But there isn’t a right answer,” I keep telling him. “It’s all about what makes you unique and special, and there isn’t any right or wrong in who you are. You’re lovely, perfect, wonderful etc etc” but, as with the children, my efforts at positive strokes are rejected.

“You’re just saying that, you don’t mean it, I’m not pretty/clever/popular enough,” is how the children usually reply, and it’s only after serious sobbing that I can persuade them they’re special to their mother.

I massaged the Lawyer’s bruised ego and persuaded him to make it into a parlour game. On a big piece of paper I wrote “What makes Daddy special?” and the children shouted out their answers, which I wrote down. Then we all ticked the ones we liked and binned the ideas that got less than two ticks.

The ones that went through included: “his funny shaped nose”, “he is tall”, “he only lives at home at weekends” and “he is the only man I know who hums de Souza marches in the bath” although, come to think of it, this might be quite a common male trait and be more my lack of knowledge of men that is letting me down.

Unfortunately, all the Lawyer’s ideas – first class degree, ability to stay up 72 hours on the trot when closing deals, typing speed 50wpm and ability to secure good tables in restaurants for client lunches – were all rejected as not being special enough. In the end, the Lawyer worked out that the only thing that really set him apart from his fellow lawyers was an intimate knowledge of the Battle of Pinkie, an obscure Scottish conflict that happened to catch his attention when revising for his finals. “We all know exactly the same things!” he wailed. “Not one of us is special!”

The thought of legions of grey-suited lawyers sharing a common database of case law, precedent and professional gossip depressed him unutterably, and Subjudice said it made him sound like one of the Borg from Star Trek. This thought actually cheered him up again because the Borg have fantastic facial equipment and the urge to assimilate all rival lifeforms is built into the very heart of any competitive law firm. Eventually, he decided his USP was: “Knowing what’s best for everyone.” The Borg would definitely agree.