We move silently along a glistening white corridor. We enter meeting room 42.07.
Sitting on one chair is KELLI from haitch-are, teeth gleaming, looking vacantly at her fingernails.
On another chair is PARTNER, dressed in an artful shirt-tie combo, speed-deleting from his Blackberry messages to call his wife.
Sitting nervously on the third chair is VICTORIA, wondering if anyone can see the hole in her black opaque stockings that she coloured in with a Sharpie prior to this meeting.
Kelli: Now Victoria, this is your first performance review, yes?
Kelli: Don’t worry. It’s a conversation, two-way y’know. You tell us how you think you went this year and Partner can tell you if he agrees. It’s holistic reflection, y’know, how you think you met the Key Strategic Values, any concerns you might have, some goals for the next year and …
Partner: What’s your name again? Victoria … You only made 79 percent of your budget.
Victoria: Uh … I don’t think that’s my fault. I ask for work every morning. I’ve never refused anything. I’ve never missed a deadline. I’ve worked full weekends and until 2 am if needed. I’m not sure what else I could have done.
Partner: Well … You need to use your initiative.
Kelli: Initiative. It means you need to be inventive.
Victoria: I know what initiative means. I’m just not sure how I could create more work for myself, short of paying off my Dad to seek planning permission for a non-compliant petrol station. I don’t think it is quite fair to blame me for the global financial crisis.
Partner: Grunts. A silence follows.
Kelli: Ah … Moving on … Let’s talk about how you think you meet the Firm’s Key Strategic Values. Give me an example of when you worked in a team.
Victoria: I’m in the planning team.
Kelli: Correct. Right, let’s tick that box. What about “quality”?
Victoria: I proof-read.
Kelli: Excellent. Tick. “Veracity”?
Victoria: Ah … I told a senior lawyer once when I thought representing a client in a set of proceedings would breach our ethical duty to the court because the claim was vexatious and very unlikely to succeed because the evidence was improperly obtained and inconclusive and our whole litigation strategy entirely exploitative of the fact the other side wasn’t going to have the same quality of representation as the Firm.
Partner: You’re a first year lawyer. It is not your call to make if something is unethical. That’s my job.
Kelli: Ah, what he means is that we need to prioritise client service and if that’s what a client wants, that’s what we need to do. The Firm is about client service.
Victoria: Hmmm … Why is “veracity” a Key Strategic Value then and not “client service”?
Partner: Isn’t it? Well it should be. Kelli, can you see to that?
KELLI writes this down on her notepad and then highlights it in pink.
Kelli: Now … Have we done “cultivation”?
The camera pulls back slowly until we are outside the door and heading quickly down the elevator back to Earth.