Legal Widow

The Lawyer has just come back from a gruelling training weekend where they broke the management team down into snivelling wrecks and built them back up into confident legal achievers who know where they fit in the hierarchy of the organisation.

It was a surprise to find the managing partner should be working in the canteen (he doesn’t like his lawyers to look hungry), and the newly-appointed personnel director is a borderline psychopath (his first move was to sign the firm up to a year of Management Growth Through Colour Therapy), but that probably assures their place on the board for years to come.

The Lawyer was most upset to find that he scored no marks at all for people skills, and spent Sunday evening going through the questionnaire with me, shouting: “Assertive! Not argumentative!” and: “Caring! I meant to put caring! What does consumptive mean anyway?” I tried to explain that it’s about what you are, not what you want to be, but the children suddenly rushed into the room in a collection of my old clothes, which rather undermined my point. Both Subjudice and Deminimus were pretending to be Madonna and were fighting over who should carry little Liability around in a suitably maternal pose. Liability was trying to be Sporty Spice and had managed to write the word “Angle” on her tummy, upside down, in blue felt-tip. I was terribly impressed, but the Lawyer insisted on correcting it to “Angel” in red Biro, which left us all in tears and simply confirms the fact that he does not know How To Deal With People. Subjudice, who is going through her socialist worker phase rather early in life, put in “Engels” when her father wasn’t looking, which earned her a talking-to and a bedtime reading of The Telegraph’s leader column.

He is, it seems, a Badgering Fixer. Many of his fellow partners turned out to be Lovable Softies, which is all very well for practice development and the success of the Northern Legal Ramblers club, but not much use in tense cross-table negotiations where they tend to cave in before the opposition’s team of Picky Obstinates.

In one exercise they had 10 minutes to scrawl slogans describing themselves on T-shirts. The marketing director ran out of time and was forced to go bare-chested in penance, while the head of litigation disagreed so violently with the rest of her team that she seized the T-shirt and sawed it up with her nail file. The Picky Obstinates had: “You looking at me?”, while the Tedious Prevaricators wrote: “Remind me of that brief again?”

The Lawyer, of course, wrote: “Don’t badger me – you should have done it last week!” But he was taken aback to find that his Lovable Softy colleagues had got: “Badgering Fixers jump up and down on us from a great height”.

He was just launching into a tirade of invective about failed presentations and missed deadlines, when he realised the room had gone very quiet. Apparently you could practically see the hand writing the words “Not a team player” on the wall.

I soothed him with the thought that being a Badgering Fixer was very positive. Imagine being a Badgering Obstinate, I said, or even worse, an Obstinate Badger. Then you’d be six inches high and made of Fuzzy Felt, I reflected. Not lawyer material at all. But the children would love him.