Thursday, 13 March 2008

PP Discovers New Maxim of Equity

What is it with people on the second from bottom rung of the ladder? Am working on a case with PM at the moment on which our instructing solicitors are a big City firm. It is a big case with big numbers etc. and has been going on for absolutely yonks. I have been doing lots of work on it over the past few months, helping PM with drafting pleadings, opinions and advices, and over the past couple of weeks we have had a series of cons, to which PM invited me.

I managed to get over the initial status anxiety which I experienced upon becoming a pupil, and am resigned to my being at the very bottom of the pile, but I have to admit that I have managed to get riled by being patronised and spoken down to by the trainee at the instructing solicitors. Now call me a romantic old fashioned Marxist but I would have thought that as two downtrodden proletarians toiling away without any participation in the capital of our respective practices we should have a bit of fellow-feeling and comradeship. Oh no! She spends the whole bl**dy time trying to establish her seniority in the pecking order by asking me to do all the boring admin tasks during meetings that her supervisor asks her to do. And though it galls me to give in to her power play, in acknowledgement of the new equitable maxim that "he who pays the piper calls the tunes" I have to go ahead and do it - after all, fearless fighting for justice aside, PM relies upon instructing solicitors' favour to put PM Major and Minor through their respective schools and to pay the mortgage on PM Park, so who am I to b*gger things up with petty squabbling. I just take my medicine and go to the photocopy room to press the green button in the way that my tens of thousands of pounds worth of law school training has prepared me to do.

Seriously, though - I don't give a toss about doing admin work - after all someone has to do it and I don't (any longer) pretend to be any grander than anyone else, so am happy for that person to be me - but I think that it is poor form of the trainee to try to lord it over me and not do her bit of the grunt work too. Was prepared to build a few bridges between the two professions (her being easy on the eye, as it happens) and find out a bit more about the other side of the fence, but don't feel that this trial is going to be the barrel of laughs that I had hoped for. Oh well.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Three of them, and Alleline

When we started out there were four of us, and Control has yet to narrow the field, for four we remain. Have been getting into my John Le Carre recently so I am afraid that my posts might have become a bit cryptic - what I mean to say is that we pupils shall ALL live to fight another day, so I can stop feeling anxious for myself and my fellow footsoldiers and get on with the task of making a case for tenancy.

Last night there was something of a lobster quadrille as each of us was desperate to know the fate of the others, but too British to do anything as vulgarly direct as to ask in case the answer would make things a bit awkward. Once we had fumbled our respective ways to the realisation that we were all still alive we were able to enjoy the moment and went for a drink. Nice to have the chance to relax together and exchange a few anecdotes amongst ourselves for once. I think that most pupils probably feel that they need to play their cards pretty close to their chests during pupillage when in fact everyone is eager to share their experiences and compare notes. It is certainly reassuring to find out that other people have made *rses of themselves with their pupilmasters and mistresses, and not everyone (or indeed anyone) has a relaxed and easygoing relationship with their PM.

Having said that, since Head of Chambers gave me the good news last night and thoughts turn to the start of my second six, the reality of the imminent end of my time with my current PM has begun to dawn and I realise that I am now much more able to relax in his company than I was before. He too has relaxed with me, and I think that he might almost admit in an unguarded moment to enjoying my company a little bit these days. He still has his rather dry style: when I came back from my meeting with Head of Chambers PM said that they would only have given me the boot if I had been completely brain dead, and that although I had made a number of valiant attempts to demonstrate that such was indeed the case, Chambers had seen through me and concluded that, despite appearances, I was sentient. I think that I am going to rather miss the miserable old sod!

Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen....

Apologies for not posting for such a very very long time (and for the mixing of enough metaphors in this post to give you all a terrible hangover tomorrow). The thing is, PP has been just a little bit anxious for the past several weeks about Fate, and the plans that he has for PP and his progress in The Senior Profession.

I don't know whether PP in his bravado 'fessed up to the fact that notwithstanding all the medals he had collected from his glorious campaigns at Oxford and the Inns, he had only secured a first six pupillage, and had no second six to fall back on should Fate and The Gods of chambers not smile upon him and extend for a further six months. PP has been busying himself exploring other options and wondering whether he can come up with a catchy title for the blog of a trainee solicitor, paralegal, D.Phil student, burger flipper or bum.

PP Towers (for which read Chatterton-esque garret in an unsalubrious district the postcode of which Mr and Mrs P would not even recognise - my mother was surprised to hear that the numbers went up that high and insists on referring to it as "SW A Million") is positively littered with discarded attempts at completing the application forms for City law firms, all of which are similar but subtly and tantalisingly different (OK that's a lie - they're actually just annoyingly and inconveniently different). It really is a very efficient test of how dedicated one is to joining the profession - if one's heart isn't 100 per cent. in it one finds it impossible to get past page 30. The Lord only knows how one is expected to get through the assessment days et cetera. I thought that since the coming into force of the Human Rights Act we would be spared the kind of patently cruel and distinctly unusual punishments described in the recruitment brochures. It almost makes one nostalgic for the humiliations of pupillage.

Well, the likes of Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Freshfields, Slaughters and A&O can breath a huge sigh of relief for the moment at least because, no doubt to the astonishment of many, despite his many first six gaffes (only a small selection of which he could be *rsed to chronicle here, so busy was he pulling his hair out, biting his nails and telling HR departments about challenges that he has risen to and examples of PP exhibiting commercial acumen) PP has pulled it off! He's cleared the first hurdle of the tenancy steeplechase and earned himself a reprieve from the glue factory for another six months.

When I was told The Decision I wasn't told whether all four of us have made the cut for the second six and, to tell you the truth, I didn't have the balls to ask. You see, the reason why PP hasn't shared with you lovely people too much detail about his fellow pupils is that he is a little squeamish about the competitive nature of pupillage and the suggestion from some readers that PP is a bit of a sh*t for revelling in the gaffes of a fellow pupil rather struck a nerve, because PP isn't quite as horrid as he likes to make out.

Although the pupillage race is undoubtedly a competitive one, and it is certainly not a case of "everyone shall have prizes", I must admit that no matter how many times I consult my well-thumbed copies of "The Art of War" and "The Prince", I can't bear the thought of any of my co-pupils being told that they are not being kept on.

I have "survivor's guilt" and I don't even know that anyone has perished. I know that this is a serious chink in PP's armour and perhaps marks him out as unsuitable for the jousting of an adversarial and competitive profession. I know also that I have misled you with all my bluster, and that the bluster is probably rather more fun to read, but there it is.

Anyway, until PP's mind is put at rest as to the fate of his fellow pupils, it's "two cheers" for the second six decision.