This is a guest post by Louise Humphries who describes herself on Twitter (@LAHumph) as a “Solicitor in Commercial & Residential Property and Private Client based in York & Boroughbridge, amateur runner, student of Spanish, STEP and Social Media”
I am really pleased that she has agreed to write today’s post.
I met a young trainee solicitor recently who told me that every morning when she arrives at her desk, her supervising partner shuts his door so he does not have to say good morning to her.
My blood boiled.
This is a young, intelligent, enthusiastic, hard working lawyer, whose own superior cannot bring himself to offer common human decency. Disgraceful.
Young lawyers don’t have to fear the LSA, ABS’, social media or change. They have to fear behaviour like that.
Then I began to put myself in his shoes. Why would you behave like that?
I live in a bubble of lawyer happiness. Everyone who knows me knows I love what I do. I never dread going into the office, never introduce myself as a solicitor with any tone of embarrassment and never wish I had a different job. Make no mistake, I work hard, run a large (profitable) caseload, cope with stress every day, have pressures from my superiors, clients, secretaries, and that’s not to mention the non-work related pressures that everyone copes with.
Principally through Twitter, I began talking to other lawyers and ex-lawyers and was shocked by the treatment they seem to receive from their employers, supervisors and colleagues. I began to see myself as the Pollyanna of the legal world. Was I missing something?Why was I happy in a profession that many seemed to be unhappy in?
There are a hundred reasons. Most of which boil down the ethos of the firm I work for. I am extraordinarily lucky to have no targets for billable hours which eradicates a plethora of negative behaviours. No need to be possessive over files or clients, no need to be threatened by other’s success or the younger generation of lawyers usurping me, no need to manufacture hours that cannot possibly exist. It leaves a lot of room for concentrating on the real stuff.
Is this not the way forward?
Surely firms can assess a fee earner’s worth in a measure other than billable hours?
Is this such a ridiculous proposition?
Which brings me back to the partner who cannot bring himself to say good morning to his trainee. Why would a firm tolerate, or encourage, this kind of behaviour it? Does becoming a solicitor mean leaving courtesy, kindness, respect & social skills at the door?
I do not believe it does. I detest lawyer bashing (Julian knows that!). It’s a very difficult, challenging, but brilliant, job. I know ( because I live it every day) that a fee earner can bring profit to the firm, serve clients well and enjoy the job. I work for a firm that many legal commentators believe will soon become extinct (I disagree). A traditional practice. With traditional values. Like working hard, treating others with respect, caring about your client, being flexible with your staff & most of all enjoying it. It can be done. Pollyanna I may be. Happy too, and in a world where cynicism is fashionable, traditional values scorned & “small” wrongly likened to “unsuccessful”, I still know where I’d rather be.
As for that trainee, if I am ever in a position to, I will offer her a job.