Monday, January 24, 2005

I received a miniature crystal tennis racket from a client today in the tennis industry that I did some work for. It's engraved at the bottom: "Thank you for all of your hard work. We 'love' you." Love is in quotation marks. I hope whoever came up with the text of the engraving gets fired effective immediately. Just because "love" is a tennis word doesn't mean I want to see it on my bookshelf every time I reach for the tax code. There's no place for love next to the commercial code. I got tired of seeing the plastic figurine of a sewage tanker one client sent me a couple of years ago and I gave it to a homeless person. He'll enjoy it more than I will. When clients send us gifts it tells me we aren't charging enough. Everything tells me we aren't charging enough. When clients call with more business it tells me we aren't charging enough. When clients tell me about their expensive vacations it tells me we aren't charging enough. Of course, when clients switch firms, it tells me maybe we're charging too much. But my clients never switch firms.

Friday, January 21, 2005

I can't stand the paralegals. I don't mean the career paralegals, the ones who are 40 years old and have decided that my life isn't the life they want and they'd rather be an indentured servant five days a week instead of seven. I don't think much of their decision, but I understand the reasons people make it. Who I can't stand are the recent college graduates here for the express purpose of sucking up enough so that I write them a law school recommendation letter. If only they knew the kinds of letters I've written, they would stop asking. But it becomes a dagger to hold to their throats as I ask them to measure the margins on every page of a printed document to make sure the paper didn't feed through the laser printer at an angle, or to count the number of sheets of paper in a box again just to make sure their first count was right. They do it because they're scared of what might happen if they don't. I'll fire them and they'll have nothing to show for the year they're hoping will convince law school admissions officers that they really want to be lawyers, when in fact they have no idea what they want to do, but did well on the LSAT and want to make money. "She was a very competent paralegal, despite making it obvious she was only here to fool you into thinking all she ever wants in the world is to be a student at your overrated and largely ineffectual institution of higher learning." That should do it, right?

(Sorry for the recent posting irregularity. Will be better about it starting next week.)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

We have a group of attorneys visiting from the Frankfurt office to meet with a client who has some business issues in Europe he needs our help with. It's dangerous when people visit from outside our four walls. They ask too many questions, and remind people here that not everyone operates the way we do. When one of them said to an associate, "You mean you do work on weekends?" I cringed. I worry that it'll remind them that not everyone lives the same life as we do, and make them think too hard about the quality of their existence. Of course, they also ask amusing questions like about how the auto-flushing toilet works, and why the portions at lunch are so big.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

At the end of the year, I delivered evaluations to a number of associates under me. It's a fun process, on this side of the desk. I always make sure to include one sentence that can be read either positively or negatively ("She's very capable, perhaps too capable"), and one comment about an unrelated personal attribute, just to see how much power I have to change people's lives to fit my own arbitrary whims. Yesterday I saw the first concrete result of that. I mentioned to one associate, for no particular reason, that I thought his beard made him look a bit sloppy and that it wasn't the kind of image we want to portray. Yesterday, he showed up clean-shaven for the first time, he said, since law school. Turns out he's not a handsome man. Too bad.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The first week back from any kind of break, people think they're still on vacation. "I'm still catching up on what I missed" is not an excuse. An associate promised me a memo by end of day today, and just stopped by my office to let me know it's going to be another day or two because she's still "crawling out from under the pile of e-mails." This is why we give associates Blackberries. How can she have a pile of e-mails? Wherever she was, her e-mail was in her pocket. It's not my fault she let it get out of control. It's her own fault. And now she's making me wait an extra day for a memo I'm never going to read, but that isn't the point. It's the principle. The memo could have been important. Her e-mails over the holiday could have been important. She needs to answer her e-mails when she gets them. And she needs to get me the memo when she promises. This isn't just a game. Sometimes it's a game. But not this time.

Monday, January 03, 2005

After a long holiday weekend, I like to get in the office early and ease into the day. By the time the associates roll in from their vacations at 9:30, 10:00, or even later, with tans that will quickly fade and stories no one wants to hear, I'll have a stack of assignments ready to hand out and shock them back into the routine. I've already left some post-it notes on people's computers asking them to see me as soon as they get in. I dated one of them last Wednesday, one last Tuesday, and one, for someone I know has been gone since the day before Christmas, 7 A.M. on Christmas morning. "Check in as soon as you get this," it says. "I have some work to take with you on vacation. Hope it won't be much trouble. Thx." It'll put the fear of God into them, just a bit. This is one tactic e-mail and voice mail have almost completely destroyed. Even if there was a way to change the date stamps, you know they're checking almost compulsively from wherever they are. But a post-it note on the computer? It's perfect.

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