Volume 9, Issue 5
MULSS yoga is no longer sponsored by Allens Linklaters™. With the passing of that sponsorship agreement we’ve all lost something.
We’ve lost a not insubstantial sum of money. And that slight drop in funding has real world impact — slightly fewer wheels of brie at the garden party, a slight drop in wine quality at Law Ball, a slightly shallower swimming pool of cash for the LSS executive to do Scrooge McDuck style dives into once everyone else in the law school has gone home. It’s a tragedy. But for better or worse (better) this article is not a detailed breakdown of LSS income/expenditure/surplus.
We’ve lost a joke. The idea of a legendarily high-pressure, super-intense corporate law firm sponsoring, of all things, some lovely relaxing yoga classes, was fundamentally absurd. This is the same Allens which, as the completely distinct and obviously utterly culturally different legal entity of Allens Arthur Robinson, had a managing partner who made some fairly outrageous statements that can be perused at your leisure on line 5, page 32 of the Legal Ethics reading guide. I won’t print them here, as you would accuse me of making them up. Go read them. Now ask yourself, did they deliberately pick their most diametrically opposed activity possible? Was this sponsorship deal the work of an HR officer gone rogue? Did they also demand sponsored poses? Did ‘child’s pose’ become ‘senior partner has just entered the room pose’? Did a ‘sun salute' become ‘deliriously saluting the sun after an all-nighter of discovery’? Did ‘downward facing dog’ just stay as it was?
We’ve lost a symbol. An important symbol, one that summarised the absurdities of the sponsorship system at MLS. Because large firms presumably get something out of the sponsorship dollars they dish out, a certain narrowing of what we collectively perceive as an acceptable career path. That free beer at the barbecue isn’t really free at all. You’re just paying for it in ways you don’t realise at the time. Given this, is it really necessary for absolutely everything to be branded with corporate advertising? Meet the Profession — obviously, Mooting — yes, Law Ball — sure, Netball — maybe, but yoga? Really? Is nothing sacred? No, nothing is sacred and it never was, but at least the Allens Linklaters MULSS Yoga classes made that fact undeniable.
We’ve lost an example. Because there was also something subtly appropriate about Allens sponsoring our yoga classes, something that we perhaps should have been learning from. It fits an underlying theme across the high pressure corporate world — CEOs boasting about productivity-boosting meditation, employees being ‘encouraged’ into ‘mindfulness’ ‘workshops’, HR managers touting the benefits of building resilience. Employees are being readjusted to fit their high pressure job, rather than that pressure being lowered to better fit the mental needs of the employee. Given that the legal profession suffers from mental health issues at such disproportionate rates, it’s reasonable to assume that there are systemic, profession-wide problems explaining that disparity. Programs like those free yoga classes, that focus on individuals’ resilience to stress, are a part of the process that reframes those systemic problems as individual ones instead. Sponsorship illustrated that relationship in a way that is now lost.
We’ve lost something absurd. But that absurdity was profitable, hilarious, eye-opening and instructive. And, for that, I’ll raise a glass of Globe Draught tm at the Corkman Irish Pub pty ltd in fond memory of Allens Linklaters MULSS Yoga Classes.
The LSS sponsorship officer did not respond to my interview requests, chiefly because no such requests were made.
Henry HL is a third year JD student
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