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Elizabeth Street
18 November, 2008  
It's my fault

Lizzy does the research and writes opinions only to have them butchered by insecure superiors

imageI like my partner.

Maybe “like” is too strong word. Mutual tolerance is closer to the mark.

At the moment we have a few relationship issues, which threaten to distract us.

For instance, it’s my fault if he doesn’t understand something.

An idea or concept explored in a client advice that he does not grasp immediately is thrown back at me with: “You obviously don’t understand the issues here.Go and do some more research.I’m sure there was a case a few years back on this very point.”

I used to respond meekly, “OK, I’ll see what I can find”.

More recently, I’ve asserted myself: “I have already read that case, plus five others and come to the conclusions set out in my advice.”

A row ensures – raised voices, flared nostrils, nasty glares.

Frequently he insists we should brief counsel to explain, as I clearly don’t understand what I’m writing about.

On one emboldened occasion I shot back: “No, you don’t understand.Don’t bother wasting the client’s money with counsel, I can explain it to you if you’ll give me two seconds and actually listen!”

Strangely, he listened and the advice was sent, as is.

Yet, on the occasion of another unpleasant flare-up I was ordered to redo my research and rewrite the advice.

I left his office, and on my way past his secretary’s desk, I popped the advice back into his in-box.

The next day, it was returned to me signed with a compliment about how well written it was.

Sometimes the frustration is too much and I imagine strangling him with his badly patterned Ferragamo tie.

When senior associates are added to the mix, suddenly the bodkin on the SA’s desk starts to look like the easy way out.

A particular SA I had the misfortune to work for went out of her way to ensure I understood how poorly my letters and advices were drafted and how charitable she had been in rectifying this incompetence.

She would chop and change my advices until they were unrecognisable.They would then be sent to the partner, who would chop and change everything back!

There was a pleasant hiatus when she went on maternity leave.

After she returned my partner was so stressed and busy he passed several of my advices to her for checking.

She promptly informed me they had been given to her because they were so terrible my partner could not bring himself to read them.

I sat poker-faced for 15-minutes while she sneered and picked at my work.

As soon as I could I headed downstairs, out of the building, across the street and into the public toilets.

I locked myself in a cubicle and screamed from the top of my lungs until the fury subsided.

This seemed like a better option than killing her with her own water bottle and leaving her child an orphan.

I was then able to return to the office and butcher my advices in accordance with her instructions.

Just another day in the law.




Reader Comments

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 19, 2008, 4:59 am

I am so glad to know that my experiences are mirrored elsewhere. I just need to find the balls to stare down the rath of the partner I work for instead of the meek “OK, I’ll see what I can find” responses. I always leave their offices wondering how on earth I could have studied for and received a law degree obviously not knowing anything about anything... Silly me, its just their way of feeling superior!
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 19, 2008, 4:59 am

This to me resembles the "Battered Wife" syndrome only it should be "Battered Junior Lawyer" syndrome.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 20, 2008, 1:24 am

I would be glad to assist anyone, running a not-guilty plea, citing 'battered junior lawyer syndrome'. All we need now is a psychiatrist to support the theory =)
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 20, 2008, 7:56 pm

It's spelt wrath you muppet....I hope your advices are to a higher standard
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 20, 2008, 7:57 pm

Maybe we could get those at the Black Dog Institute to come on board and develop a theory on this "battered junior lawyer syndrome". After all, surely the ridiculous levels of depression in the legal profession would contribute to such a phenomenon.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 20, 2008, 8:00 pm

what is "rath". Is it like "wrath", like.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 24, 2008, 12:32 am

Hahahahahaaaaaa.........If misery loves company, then Im in love.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 30, 2008, 10:17 pm

Does anyone else get the impression that Lizzy is becoming a little too big for her boots? I'd suggest that the problem is not so much with 'insecure superiors' as it is with a certain cocky junior know-it-all. You're not a partner, Lizzy, and with your superior attitude I wouldn't be at all surprised if you never are.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: December 1, 2008, 3:19 am

And apparently misery does indeed love company.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: December 3, 2008, 7:58 am

Can I just say that this might be the funniest thing I have read: "You're not a partner, Lizzy, and with your superior attitude I wouldn't be at all surprised if you never are" Because Parners NEVER have superior attitudes - they are so down to earth and humble! Earth to Moon Patrol, do you read me Space Ranger. OK Lizzy, you might have a Gen Y thing happening a little there, but I promise you one thing - every lawyer and judge will do things their own way and tell the rest of the world that they are right. Having said that, when learning be humble.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: December 11, 2008, 2:27 am

"It's spelt wrath you muppet....I hope your advices are to a higher standard" Ellipses do not come in groups of four, and according to The Bluebook and the Australian Guide to Legal Citation, an ellipse contains a space between the first word and the last as well as between each period mark. In your particular case, one wonders why you even felt the need to use an ellipse. Fail. PS: I am a first year lawyer. I like blue jelly beans.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: December 11, 2008, 6:54 pm

> "ellipse" Glass houses. The singular of ellipses is not ellipse.