Once upon a time in a faraway group of the Firm there were two partners.
The first partner was so much the nit-picking stickler that getting away with only three drafts of a “please find enclosed” letter was considered a source of pride to his underlings.
He could spot an italicised full spot at twenty paces and would display a visibly visceral response tothe slightestdeviation from the Firm’s Style Guide.
The second partner was so hands-off that he made Milton Friedman look like Michael Jackson.
Urban legend suggested that both verses of We are the Navy Blues had once been included at page seven of an advice about GST implications and it had still come back signed by him and unchanged.
Partner Two would refer to everyone below senior associate level, male or female, as “David”, being the name of the first partner who was once his articled clerk.
Files were delegated to lawyers with instructions ranging from “Send Henry what he wants” (there being no reference to anyone of that name on the file) or “Here you go David, fix it”.
Now if your narrator had a mop of golden curls and a taste for porridge, surely the next addition to the partnership would be Just Right, a glorious equilibrium between perfectionism and trust who would be venerated by the middle management of future generations not even yet conceived.
But, alas, the writer bears the sombre pallor of an over-caffeinated, under-sunned Melbourne lawyer and will take the cheese plate, thank you very much.
You know where this is heading.
The first of July saw the latest round of partner appointments at the Firm and our sub-group has a new partner.
He’s an ex-cop with all the subtlety, progressive social attitudes and literacy skills that one would expect.
His modus operandi to make partner was to insist junior lawyers write extensive submissions or advices in his name, splutter about them not properly answering the question, write off their time, shuffle some paragraphs and insert some superfluous apostrophes, then bill the client four hours for the privilege of his input.
His other hobbies include changing the conclusion of your advices without telling you and inserting at the end a cheeky “Please call Victoria Mole to discuss”.
The first time you discover the new conclusion (which is based on his gut feeling rather than your well-researched case law) is when the client calls to check you haven’t gone insane.
His exercise regime consists of crawling around your desk to snatch any files that have not come from him and walking away mid-conversation when you are trying to explain something.
We don’t get along so good.
I’m not denying my textbook Gen-Y antipathy towards people in positions of authority. My god they’re dull.
But I acknowledge that as a result of the other partners’ respective pedantic/passive management styles, I’ve developed an eagle-eye for rogue semi-colons and bluffing skills worthy of the Australian Poker League.
This is the first time I’ve ever worked for someone for whom I have a complete lack of respect.
Native Americans believe we pre-natally choose our parents so as to learn different lessons.
If I’m slicing up small children for breakfast by the time of my next post, there might be some truth in that.