Volume 9, Issue 9
Preparing for the clerkship, I had one guiding principle: everything matters, so don’t f*** it up. That’s two principles. Strong start.
The first few days were a real test for the ‘everything matters’ mantra. Recently Merged Hyper-firm (‘RMH’) really tested the commitment to caring about every single word any of their employees said. Diversity. Development. Integration. Client-focused. [Buzzword]. [Buzzword]. Overtired RMH Grad presenting on Diversity ‘hadn’t prepared’, but had ‘read a book once about a time when a person faced that problem where they worked.’ An ordinary person might have had a second thought. They might have chanced a chuckle at the “Grandson-What-Is-That-Movie-With-That-Lovely-Young-Man-From-America’ level of specificity. No way m8. Every freshly starched young suit in the room looked like they were attending a Nobel laureate’s acceptance speech. With my comrades, I passed the test. I acted like everything mattered.
Next day, my appointed senior lawyer and buddy (read: HR reporting agent) at RMH took me for a quick coffee and a chat. Espressos were ordered. Why? Senior lawyer doesn’t have time for your milk and your conversation. Buddy is fresh into the Death Star and still has an aroma of Melbourne Law School about him, so the copied coffee order is an easy way to please. Me? I actually didn’t hear their order, but knew from primary school that imitation is flattery. Everything matters. Keep it up.
At this lightning coffee of “what-drew-you-to-my-very-specific-area-that-you-know-little-about” chats and espresso-related wincing, I saw a glimmer of hope. The glimmer of hope was itself a glimmer. While staring down at the floor, trying to hide sheer confusion about what distinguished debt from equity financing, I spotted that we were all wearing the same well-shined shoes. Not just shoes at all. Not just black shoes and socks (today). But the same distinct English men’s dress shoes. Good heavens. This is a miracle. Everything matters, even the shoes! From some nifty law school logic I thought: senior lawyer wears shoes, has job; buddy wears shoes, has job; I wear shoes… can has job!
The golden age of shoe-based friendship lasted nearly the whole clerkship.
On the final week, we were required to give presentations that related to the practise groups in which we were placed: Banking and Finance. Get out me way George RR Martin, this is where the real drama goes down.
Predictably, in a world where even a brotherhood of shoe ownership can be the difference between sweet, sweet employment and being marooned on the island of unemployment, the presentation got a lot of prep. Lots. Second reading speeches of relevant legislation. Drafts. Coffee chats in advance with buddy (plus espressos to pay homage to our absent leader). Even memes made a showing. This PowerPoint was weapons grade.
So too, I thought, was the presentation. The vibe was lukewarm, but hey, it was a really boring trial level case.
Just as I go back to my desk, I reread the email appointing topics for presentations.
I read “FCAFC” next to my case. No, no, no, sir. You have it wrong, there was no appeal…I was asked to do the trial decision because that’s all there was…
There was an appeal.
Heart breaks. Chest pounds. Face throbs with: fear; embarrassment; shame; death; death; and death.
In an act of tactful minimalism, I explain my error to every single person I can find around me. They respond:
“It’s really not a problem.”
“We don’t care, it’s not about that.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“I wasn’t there.”
Senior lawyer emerges from office: “Nobody cares. Nobody cares. Nobody cares.”
All is lost. Principles one and two are kaput:
Have a funny clerkship story but still want a grad job? Send it to mlsdeminimis@gmail and we’ll publish it anonymously.
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