Friday, December 21, 2007

naked people for christmas

I posted a little while ago about the fact that certain months at BCF seem to be connected to certain events. It was about the time of the September Shindig. December is obviously the month set aside for the office Christmas Party.

There are so many rules about office Christmas parties. I have narrowed my rules down to three, which cover all circumstances that might arise during a work Christmas Party: say no, only have two drinks and don't take your clothes off.

Our Christmas Party was a fairly standard BCF do. I'm not going to say where it was or what type of event it was for fear of being 'outed' but there were some quite 'interesting' entertainment choices which will no doubt point you in my direction anyway.

There were models (male and female) in swimwear and the 'game' we all got to play was 'paint a slogan on the almost naked person'. You can imagine that Peters, Jones and Ben along with all the ABC macho cronies had a brilliant time (in fact I got the feeling this was an ABC firm tradition we have inherited as a result of the merger). They came up with incredibly witty slogans like 'you're hot' to paint on the the lower back of the girls, just above the bikini bottoms and even more clever was the arrows they drew pointing down the front of the bikini bottoms. It was like they had discovered for the first time that girls have a bum, a vagina and breasts and just to make sure they didn't forget where each part was they marked it with paint for later reference when, as they hoped out loud to anyone who could hear, they would 'land that babe in the blue bikini tonight'.

The male models in swimmers were also body painted but it was a fairly simple affair with either block colours and even the occasional attempt at an 'artistic' vine with flowers growing down an arm. No lewd comments though.

Why is it that BCFs generate this sort of culture? Surely in Australia in this day and age there is no need to bring naked people and throw them into the middle of an arena to entertain people?

But then again, maybe there is. I suspect that next year they will just take us all to a brothel and provide a big tab, much less offensive.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


The hairdresser was gold. I couldn't have hoped for a better witness. She was a crystal clean character with an extensive list of volunteering commitments for charitable organisations and she wooed the Magistrate beautifully. Thanks to her incredible courage (now that I've met VGM's wife I understand why the hairdresser hid in the storeroom and needed to be reassured that VGM's wife would not be in court when we gave evidence) we managed to knock over the intervention order application.

VGM is delighted. So is Peters. Peters took us all out for lunch after the hearing and bought some nice vintage champagne to celebrate (not Vue de Monde but pretty good anyway). Ben and Peters were both very impressed with my work on this case and things are looking good for 2008. Peters even made a point of telling me I'm "not too bad for a skirt". There's hope yet.

In other news,Uncle came back to work full time today. Which is convenient given there's only a week or so before Chrstmas! I guess it's best to gently ease back into things after major surgery. Ben has been managing most of his work while he's been in hospital and Ben did mention to me one night over the caterer's Moroccan Lamb with cous cous (still my favourite) that he was terrified of the day Uncle returned becase it would halve his practice and therefore the client income that was falling under his name. If things get really bad for Ben's client income budget they might knock him back down to Senior Associate (he's still in the 3 month probationary period during which new Partners have to prove that their appointment is financially viable). Wouldn't that be delicious.

But I must admit I have softened my feelings about Ben a bit since this VGM case. He has shown some incrdedible insight about women as victims of crime (even though in this case VMG's wife seems to be the victim not the perpetrator); and of course he keeps coming out with better and better ties every day. I don't know where he gets them from but men everywhere should learn from him. He has tie-wearing down to a finely tuned art that's worthy of a gold medal from the Royal Melburne Show 'tie' division.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


'Intervention' is an interesting word. When I hear it, I immediately think of drug addicted crazies whose family have staged an 'intervention' in an effort to get them to stop drinking/shooting up/stealing things/take better care of themselves.

'intervene' is defined in the online Macquarie dictionary as:
verb (i) (intervened, intervening)
1. to come between in action; intercede: to intervene in a dispute.
2. to come or be between, as in place, time, or a series.
3. to fall or happen between other events or periods: nothing interesting has intervened.
4. (of things) to occur incidentally so as to modify a result.
5. to come in, as something not belonging.
6. Law to interpose and become a party to a suit pending between other parties. [Latin intervenīre come between]

I suppose then, that an 'intervention' order is designed to 'come between' two parties in a dispute in order to settle it or at the least create some boundaries.

From the snooping I have done so far it seems VGM's wife needs some serious boundaries established.

She is a classic conservative housewife who got bored, started doing drugs and is now causing chaos for everyone around her, including the two miniature poodles she has had topiaried within an inch of their lives. Receipts show that she has them washed, trimmed and dried (even sometimes dyed) once a week at a Greville St salon.

She spends a normal day avoiding food, working out at an exclusive women only gym and receiving various beauty treatments. She keeps her stamina up with a few grams of coke.

Tough life. Until the coke starts to send you a bit psycho and the trainer who used to be your best friend is scared of you, you assault the nail technician with the hot glue gun and tell your dealer to 'f*ck off' because you are 'bigger in this town than he'll ever be'.

I have a few witnesses to call at the final intervention order hearing to tomorrow. My personal favourite is the hairdresser who tends the poodles each week. She is so terrified of VGM's wife that she hides in the store room until VGM's wife has dropped off the dogs and left the salon, then spends three hours on each dog making them perfect before VGM's wife returns to collect them (and the hairdresser is always safely back in the storeroom by the time she arrives). I had to promise the hairdresser that VGM's wife would not be in the court room when she was called to give evidence.

I very much hope that the law 'comes between' VGM and his wife tomorrow in a way that makes me look good.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Peters' VGM

It has been a busy week. I have been consumed by this matter I am working on with Ben. The matter Peters asked me to call his friend about after the pro bono breakfast the other week.
It turns out Peters' friend is in a bind. Not a Tony-Mokbel-international-scandal bind but nonetheless a bind of a criminal nature.

The story goes like this...

Peters' friend is a long standing client of the firm. It is unclear whether he was a mate or a client first but he gives BCF millions of dollars of work from his construction business each year so now he is a mate, a very good mate (VGM).

The day before Peters and I had breakfast VGM called Peters about a construction matter BCF is handling for him. During the course of the conversation, VGM subtly integrated the fact that he and his wife has separated. Peters was sympathetic and supportive and insisted on taking VGM out for lunch.

Over the set lunch menu at Vue de Monde, VGM told Peters the whole story. He and his wife had married young. They have been married for 18 years now. It all started beautifully, he built her the house of her dreams and she played the part of dutiful and beautiful wife for him. Slowly, as he started to work more and she became lonely, abandoned in the big house, things began to come unstuck. He claims she has a substance abuse problem (a Toorak house wife who likes her cocoa puffs). She claims he beat her a number of times over the course of the marriage. He denies he beat her; she denies the substance abuse.

The wife has successfully taken out an interim intervention order against VGM and is seeking a full intervention order at the hearing next week. She has also provided police with a damning statement which forms the basis of an assault charge against VGM.

VGM has instructed us to defend the charge at all costs and Ben and I are preparing for the contest in a couple of weeks. I must say it doesn't look good.

Time to do some digging on VGM and, more importantly, his wife.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Melbourne Cup

We had a corporate tent at the Melbourne Cup yesterday. It sounds so glamorous... 'corporate tent' ... but really it just means you are stuck with people you don't like an awful lot on your day off.

Uncle, fresh out of hospital, managed to make an appearance and, for someone who's meant to be at home on bed rest and dosed up on pain killers, managed to consume an awful lot of beer and slap other people on the back a lot.

Peters was very excited. He had placed a couple of hundred dollars on 'Efficient' because it 'represents everything BCF stands for. She's young and fit and likes to run past all the others'. There was also the obvious reference to 'efficiency' and productive use of time.

Ben, of course, was there, swanning about like king of the world, still riding high on the crest of the wave of partnership, introducing me as 'Trixie, one of the lawyers in his team'.

We are working together as a result of the work Peters has asked us to do for one of his 'friends' but I don't think that means I am technically part of his 'team'. And why is it his team anyway? As Partner he does have some entitlement to possession but as I pointed out to him yesterday, 'There's no I in team'. But then again, as he responded, 'There is an m and an e'.

There is a 'm' and an 'e' in Melbourne Cup too, doesn't mean he owns that.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Email from the partners this morning:


Please congratulate Ben and make him feel welcome as the newest member of the Partnership. We are all excited about the new challenges this presents for the business moving forward and we are looking forward to seeing how Ben can contribute to growing the business in new practice areas.

A new artwork has been installed outside the seventeenth floor conference room to celebrate Ben's promotion.


Monday, October 29, 2007


I had a breakfast meeting with Peters this morning about the pro-bono program. He seems genuinely excited about the whole set-up and keen to get things moving as quickly as possible. We had a bit of a brainstorming session and I think we have actually come up with some good ideas.

We thought offering to write wills (for free) for terminally ill cancer patients could be a good one. And providing some lawyers on call for women checking into one of the local domestic violence shelters. The drought too, we decided we should work out some way to help the farmers with the drought. Good programs that make a difference in the community. And more importantly, get the BCF name out there in the community,

At the end of the breakfast, as we walked across Collins Street to the office, Peters slapped me on the back and said "good job". It was strange but let me know I am going in the right direction.

Then he handed me a business card and said, "Call this lady, she's an old family friend of mine and she's got a matter I'd like you to handle. You've got the relevant experience, get Ben to sign off on any work for you, he's done some crime too."

"Of course", I said.

But inside I could feel a storm brewing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the list

After speaking with Liz Porter the other week, I have been thinking about all the little services that BCF provides to keep me from having to leave the building when I am busy.

I started to make a list of these today and this is what I came up with:

- coffee machine
- biscuits
- sandwiches
- soft drink
- wine/beer
- catering service
- cab charges (so you don't have to leave before public transport finishes)
- dry cleaning drop off at reception (for 24 hour return of garments)
- book club in the kitchen (so you can shop during your coffee break)
- subsidised gym membership for the gym across the street (so you can break up a late night with a quick workout)
- grocery delivery service (of personal groceries to work)
- medical and dental check-ups
- flu jabs
- massage
- yoga
- pilates
- triathlons
- fun runs
- theatre tickets
- movie tickets

I am sure I have missed a few.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

maybe, just maybe

I saw Peters after lunch and what he gave was indeed ' a big matter'. And Uncle is right, it is 'perfect for me' but I am suspicious it may also be the BCF kiss of death.

The 'big matter' Peters and Uncle want me on is the pro bono program. They want to rebrand it and re-vamp it. I have suspected for some time that this may have been the secret ulterior motive that Uncle had for me when he threw the massive pay cheque at me to get me here. Strangely, a couple of months ago, I would have thought this was a brilliant opportunity. I think when I last mentioned my suspicions I even said some thing like 'what a dream, principled work and a corporate salary'! Now, I feel trepidatious about the whole thing.

Corporate social responsibility is treated as a bit of a necessary evil by most BCFs. It' s something they know they should do, because it looks good and clients like it, but really, they hate it because it doesn't give them any cash in their pockets. It's a bit like flossing, it's good for you but you hate it, so you give it a half-arsed effort occasionally and hope that it stops the rot.

It stands to reason then that anyone BCF wants to put on their pro-bono program is being treated as disposable because they are not bringing cash to the hip pocket of those who matter. This is why I feel incredibly unsure about being Pro-Bono Director. I have come to enjoy the weird dysfunctional family that is BCF since I have been here and I have this incredible desire to please and perform well. By BCF standards, this means bill above target and stay out of trouble. I seem to have failed pretty spectacularly on both those counts but nonetheless I am like a stupid puppy dog that doesn't learn and keeps coming back for more, wanting to finally make my owner happy.

With Uncle out of action still (and perhaps indefinitely - he has to have surgery to fuse a disc) I am not sure I have many other options. I could ask the other Partners for work (or even worse Ben), but when they are handing me this project on a platter it seems insolent to go behind their backs and try and find something else.

Maybe my freakish qualities are finally being realised and I will actually be the first senior associate to make partner based on pro bono contributions.

I mean, anything's possible, Peter Andre is married and has children.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

take me to the bank

One of the first things that was explained to me when I started at BCF was that, as a lawyer, we sell time. Not legal services, as the articled clerk at the back of the induction session so eagerly yelled out when the question was asked, but time. This, I'm told, means that a lawyer sitting around wasting time is like having a chair full of hundred dollar notes that no-one bothered to bank.

Apparently, criminal lawyers don't understand the danger of leaving a lot of cash around unattended, so I had to be trained in every aspect of the risks involved when I made the switch from fixed fee criminal work to hourly rate civil litigation at BCF.

You can, then, understand the pressure I was starting to feel about getting some good billable work across my desk. My office was starting to swim in hundreds of 'unbanked' hundred dollar notes.

Yes I have made some great non-billable contributions over the last couple of months by organising the Shindig and preparing tenders and any other non-billable task that came my way because I couldn't stuff it up. But I am ready to get back amongst it now. If nothing else, I have to prove that I can do this work and, hopefully, prevent Ben from making partner in the process.

I was just getting ready to walk into Peters office to see if he had any work I could do when I received an email from, guess who.... Peters.


Big matter. I have spoken with your Uncle and he thinks it is perfect for you. See me after lunch.


I could feel tears of relief well at the back of my eyes, thank goodness all that awkwardness of asking for work has been avoided.

Somebody take me to the bank!

Monday, October 15, 2007

a billable bind

I started this week with my new motto, 'I'm a lawyer, I can do anything'; I had embraced my decision to man-up and fight harder. I was prepared to stand up for myself and try to get some good work going again post the 'Niffen incident'.

I'd done everything right, I had come in on the weekend to sort my emails and clear my desk of administrative rubbish so that I would be ready to go, firing on all cylinders when Uncle started allocating work my way.

Unfortunately, Uncle is still in hospital, so no Partner allocating work to me. This placed me in the unenviable position of needing to generate work for myself.

My billables over the last couple of months have been shocking. Of course, since the 'Niffen incident' I was placed under the full supervision of a more senior Senior Associate. This meant that I was relegated to discovery tasks, drafting hearing certificates and organising witness availability.

Essentially, I was doing the same work as a vaguely competent mid-level solicitor. The difficulty is that Uncle has been the one funnelling that work in my direction and now he's out of action, I'll quite possibly be out of a job unless I can find some billable work, and fast.

This leads to one of the eternal BCF etiquette questions... if your Partner is out of action (or even, as is sometimes the case, just out of work) is it OK to seek work from the other Partners? Does it make your Partner look bad? Does it amount to theft (in the sense that you are 'stealing' work and billable hours from your colleagues)?

Monday, October 8, 2007

dry your eyes princess

After a brief drink at Ben's 'I'm-so-great-I'm-about-to-be-a partner-premature-celebration-drinks' on Friday night, I left to meet Kate at Black Pearl for some much needed champagne cocktails.

I had spent much of the day browsing Lawyers' Weekly 'bonus' section on international job opportunities and wondering if my weird patchwork of a CV would hold up in an international BCF. With Ben's imminent promotion and the sculpture, I knew that something had to change about the way I was handling BCF life - my current approach was clearly not a winner.

Kate was running late so I set myself up at the bar to wait. Fortunately Will, my favourite bar tender, was working. He has been trialling some new cocktails recently and if I catch him in the right mood, I'm often lucky enough to be taste tester for whatever he's invented that day. Friday was not one of those days but he did keep the champagne cocktails rolling out at a record pace.

After my third, I started to wonder where the hell Kate had gotten to. I checked my phone and there was a text saying that she had been caught up and would be about an hour later than we'd planned.

'Bugger!' I exclaimed.

Will glanced in my direction and brought me another champagne cocktail.

'Why so blue lawyer lady?'

'Kate's running late.'

'Is that all?!' he joked.

'No, it's been a crap day all round. I feel like I've been worked over and hung out to dry.'

'Wow, you used to love your job.'

'That was my old job. I'm with a new firm now. It's a BCF and it's a killer.'

'Geez ... dry your eyes princess. You're a lawyer and no doubt on some big fat pay cheque. You could do anything. Just be grateful you're not earning a bar-tender's wage.'

And he's right. I know Will loves his job WAY more than I will ever love mine, but hell - I am a lawyer and I can do anything.

Time to man-up and stop playing the little girl in a big boy's game.

Friday, October 5, 2007

bulldog clips with 'strong vision'

Kate and I delivered the sculpture to Uncle on Wednesday night and I am amazed that he failed to detect the stench of terrible-home-made-sculpture. He loved it. He said the artist had a 'strong vision' and the lines were 'powerful'; that he could not imagine a 'more perfect vision of strength and masculinity'.

I was instructed to thank Ben and let him know that the sculpture would take poll position among the firm's art work outside the seventeenth floor client conference room.

I am obviously going to have to find some other way of bringing Ben down than through gifts of faux art. Rather than hurting his partnership prospects, I think the sculpture actually enhanced them.

The vote was yesterday and it is almost a dead cert that Ben is now one of 'them'. He was so excited that he is organising premature celebration drinks after work. And I have to go, because if he IS a partner then technically, he's now my boss.

I wonder how long it will take for a client to question the sculpture's merit or for a co-worker to point out that the charcoal plastic covered bull dog clips are the same as the ones in the stationery cupboard.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

bad back opening

BCF got the better of Uncle yesterday afternoon. He has been fighting off a cold for a week or so now and after losing his voice at lunch time, he somehow managed to put his back out while pulling files off the top shelf of the bookcase in his office.

Uncle has had a bad back for a while and yesterday's filing really pushed it over the edge. He was on the floor of his office in pain for some time. He couldn't scream for help because he had lost his voice. His secretary eventually found him and called an ambulance. Kate and I visited him at Epworth last night. Apparently he will be there for a week or so.

It's an interesting development in the partnership game really. Ben is being considered for partner at tomorrow's partner meeting. He has gone to great lengths to get me to lean on Uncle (with the photos and his fake-nice), which I have done to a certain degree, and though I am sure Uncle will still vote, I am not sure how.

He can't speak so a teleconference is out. He has no computer access so an email is out. Maybe one of the partners will collect a written vote from him during visiting hours tonight?

Obviously, I need to cover my back but, even more, I would love to rip the rug out from under Ben.

I have considered my options and decided that the best course of action is to send Uncle a gift, from Ben. It will help butter him up prior to the vote. I mentioned this idea to Ben over tea this morning and he was quite taken with my initiative.

Uncle loves art, so I thought a small sculpture would be the perfect gift. Something small enough for him to keep in the hospital but also something permanent he can keep forever. And not too feminine, like flowers.

I have spent most of the morning making the sculpture. A colander (from the office kitchen), some paper clips (from the stationery cupboard) and a very creative use of bull dog clips and staples (also from the stationery cupboard)have made quite an impressive piece of art.

At lunch time I am getting a small plaque engraved with the following:

Anon. - 2007

I will deliver the sculpture to Uncle tonight, as a gift from Ben.

Now I just have to work out how I am going to bill the time I spent making it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Saturday night. It's one night of the week when we hope we would very rarely be put in the position that we have to work. I have managed to never work on a Saturday night, until this weekend just gone.

After Shinding, I invited Ben for drinks at Polly on Brunswick Street. I was going to get to the bottom of this if it killed me. Just a short stroll from my house, I thought it would give an easy and convenient escape route if required (run like mad and lock the door behind me).

To reduce suspicion, I glammed up, like all good girls going out for a Saturday night drink. I arrived a little early, just to make it clear that I had the upper hand. I grabbed a drink, so that he couldn't buy me one, and nabbed a table behind the fish tank.

He was predictably late, about 5 minutes, and looked predictably attractive in some very casual weekend get up. He had a brown A4 envelope tucked under one arm.

He greeted me with a kiss on the cheek and sat down, placing the envelope on the table. There was small talk, and he ordered a drink. Then it all came tumbling out.

My subtle line of questioning began, 'What the hell are you playing at Ben?'

Not surprisingly, this got his back up and he launched into a long and tiresome monologue about how nasty women are these days, that a man can't just be nice and friendly or buy a drink without the woman assigning him some horrendous ulterior motive.

I agreed but pointed out that his behaviour of late did, in fact, strongly suggest an ulterior motive - collusion with Peters, being nice to me, orchestrating photos of us kissing at a work function. He tried to tell me that his affections were genuine. I laughed and asked what was in the envelope.

He, of course, pulled out the photos of us kissing. Then he explained that the partners were considering promoting HIM to the ranks of partner at the partners' meeting on Thursday, and that he would like me to have a quiet word to Uncle to help persuade the vote in his direction (apparently using Kate would have been too obvious, plus she has a boyfriend and is less vulnerable).

The photos, he said, were copies for me to keep. To take away as a keepsake, to remind me of the fun we had at Shindig. And he said, if it ever became an issue, they would be good record of the way I behaved at work functions - lots of champagne and kissing colleagues. Apparently, this is not the only function where I have consumed champagne, the BCF ABC merger was another prime example of my excesses.

Nonetheless, I was, apparently, still looking fabulous and if I wanted to replay the events of Shindig Ben was happy to oblige.

Monday, September 24, 2007

dipping your nib in the office ink

The Shindig is over. It was a fabulous success from BCF's point of view. The staff mingled and giggled, relaxed and drank. The food was good, the wine palatable and the warehouse on the Yarra surprisingly gorgeous, despite the slight stench from the muddy waters.

From my point of view, I had a strange time. You know that Ben and I were in a showdown of niceness prior to the event and he had asked me to share his taxi there so I upped the stakes and said he should share our table and save me a dance.

Well, he did share the table and save me a dance. He was INSANELY nice all evening. To the point where I started to think that maybe he was genuine and that he might in fact have actually been flirting with me.

Then I saw him and Peters in the corner, squirrelled away and talking intensely for quite some time.

So I upped my flirt and niceness to try and get the secret plan of him. No luck.

So I upped it even more and after some close slow dancing, took him out on the balcony for a private moment. We kissed. And I thought, if he wasn't such a weasel, the little tingles in my back might be a bit fun to indulge.

Then BANG, flash of a camera as the office services lady took our photo, mid kiss. Ben said something about Peters and partnership and laughed. I don't really remember exactly what he said. I think I was in shock from the camera flash.

This game is not over. I will out-do him yet. I've asked him out for drinks this Saturday night. We'll see who has the upper hand then.

Friday, September 21, 2007

primped and preened

I am primped and preened within an inch of my life. I am waxed, plucked, shaved, trimmed, coloured, tinted, hydrated and anxious as hell.

My Marc Jacobs dress is fabulous and I know I will look great in it, with my slightly darker than usual spray-tanned skin. I know that I will have an ally in Kate. I know that I can chat and network successfully (if I watch my champagne consumption). I know that I can dance with strangers and not feel uncomfortable.

The question then, is why on earth am I so anxious? This is a work function for goodness sake. This is not Cinderella's ball. This is a run of the mill, have a drink or two, shmooze the partners and then circulate round the room kind of event.

The nerves have to be put down to Ben. It is the only explanation I can find. He has been so slimey in his niceness and that conversation with Uncle and Peters, it all points toward this wicked plot to make my life an administrative nightmare rather than a legal heaven (if that's even possible at BCF).

And then to make everything worse, I just ran into Ben in the kitchen. He is looking fabulous. His outdoorsiness is radiant. He has had his hair cut and it is darkly, gently curly at the edges with a good bit of mess about it. It's the kind of hair that screams: 'I get out of bed like this every morning!' And he is wearing his good suit with that brilliant vintage tie that the girls apparently like.

The only thing for it was to out-nice him again. So I smiled and brushed against his arm as I leant across him to fill my mug with hot water for my tea. I giggled a bit and said I was looking forward to this evening. Then he placed his hand on the small of my back and said he was really looking forward to it as well and that I must save him a dance, no excuses.

Then I blushed. He is so much better at this than me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

how to beat them at their own game

Only two sleeps left to Shindig. I have decided that the only way I can possibly beat Ben and his little army is to play their game.

He is being 'fake-nice' to trap me so the best way to ruin the trap is to be 'genuine-nice' in return.

And so, this email, has been sent:


Thank you for the kind offer of a lift on Friday. I am delighted to accept. As you suggest, Kate and I will be looking smashing in our dresses and ready to celebrate another week's end with some champagne.

You must join Kate and I at our table and I look forward to a spin on the dance floor with you later in the night.

Thank you again,


Perhaps I will stab him with a letter opener while we dance. How Shakespearean, if only the warehouse on Yarra had an arras.

Monday, September 17, 2007

the plot thickens

You are all aware that I am convinced there is an evil plot to bring me down that will come to a head this Friday night at the shindig.

I am not sure how it will play out but the latest development is this email from Ben...


I see you buckled and decided to attend the shindig on Friday.

Peters said that you might need a lift. Jean Claude and I are picking Kate up in a cab, why don't you come with us?

I'll be looking smashing in a tux and I'm sure you have a lovely dress, yes? Great, see you at 7.


I can't say no but I need to be prepared, do they sell capsicum spray in Australia?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

the spreadsheet

So, with only one week to go to September Shindig, I have managed to compile the ever-important RSVP spreadsheet Uncle requested.

I had myself down as not attending and when I was collecting other people's responses I was shocked to find that most people were attending. Kate and Jean-Claude are of course going. No doubt they will wear matching outfits or at least he will wear a tie that co-ordinates with her dress.

Even the admin staff are going. In fact, they seem quite excited about it. And understandably. They work bloody hard all year with very little thanks from pompous gits with an over-inflated sense of self importance. I'd be excited about a night on the champagne too if I had to work for all those lawyers.

So I did briefly re-consider my non-attendance but then decided not to change my mind and stand firm in my policy of not drinking and networking with work colleagues just because I 'should' rather than because I actually want to.

However, I'm not entirely sure Uncle is so fond of my stand on this issue. I just delivered him the spreadsheet, money and RSVPs including excuses. He was fairly tolerant of the excuses that were based on annual leave and overseas trips but less tolerant of my 'I just don't want to go' attitude.

Uncle said he was 'very disappointed', that Peters would be very 'disappointed' and, most of all, he was sure Ben would be 'very disappointed'.

Which just confirms my suspicion that they are all part of some evil plot to bring me down.

So now, of course, I must attend and I am going to have to look UBER smashing so as not to disappoint anyone and be UBER smart so I can outwit Ben.

Friday, August 31, 2007


I know that technically when people are in a conference room having a conversation with the door shut it generally means that whatever they are talking about is private or (in a law firm) privileged in some way. The problem with our office is that one of the conference rooms is right next to the staff kitchen. And sometimes, if you balance in the right direction, and hold a glass to the wall, you can hear what is being said.

This morning, I just happened to be in the kitchen making my morning tea when the monthly partners' breakfast was wrapping up. Uncle and Peters were the only ones left and with the door slightly ajar they seemed to be having a very confidential discussion about something. Which, of course, peaked my interest.

So, being the excellent lawyer I am, I pulled out my investigator glass and placed it against the wall, leaning in to hear what I could.

I managed to detect the following:

Uncle: I absolutely.... it's about time....
Peters: He is so headstrong.... Trixie is....
Uncle: Yes... ridiculous really...
Peters: I agree
Uncle: I insist. It must happen.

About 5 minutes later I got this email from Uncle:


Please take RSVPs and collect money for the September Shindig. I'd appreciate a spreadsheet setting out who's coming, who's not and the reasons why.


Clearly, Uncle, Peters and Ben are part of some evil plot to demote me to office admin girl. Senior Associate is clearly just a couple of words round here which mean 'lady lacky' who gets to do the crap tasks - oh to be back in Broadmeadows!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Just three weeks left to September Shindig. I was quite content with my flu excuse and was starting to develop a bit of a headache one afternoon which I thought I would use as the groundwork for developing my symptoms. (I know that three weeks is a long time to have the flu but best to build these things slowly so that they are more convincing, and now we have the horse flu anyway, who knows, I could have caught that given all the horses I work with.)

I say I was quite content with my flu because stupid Kate and Jean-Claude went and buggered it all up today. As you know, they are in their happy-slappy-lovey-drool-all-over-my couch-every-night stage of their relationship still. And short of spending every single one of my nights seeking refuge in some kind of buttered pastry or chocolate covered gorgeous nibbly thing at Brunetti's I had to learn to live with a couple.

Of course, one of the gigantic downsides of living with a couple, when you're not in a couple, is their desire to set you up, all the time. I have been on two blind dates with friends of Jean-Claude's and men, let me tell you, you could make a little bit of effort. Showering and paying for at least your half of the drinks/meal/movie I understand to be basic requirements when going on a date. Apparently not among Jean-Claude's friends.

So having been exposed to extreme dating, Jean-Claude style, I had chosen the flu . Like those t-shirts in the 80s and 90s that said 'choose life' I was in the process of designing one that said 'choose flu'.

Then, today, Jean-Claude emailed Kate to say that he had overheard Peters saying to Uncle that Ben (perfect Ben) was thinking of asking me to go with him to September shindig.

Now why would Ben want to do that? We clearly despise each other and are competing in the same workplace for pay rises and bonuses from the same pool as well as dipping in to the same promotion pot. I am 100% sure this is some clever ruse on his part to get in with Uncle, who he knows is uber keen for me to have a 'steady'.

I think my flu just got upped to the measles, or even better, something contagious like Gonorrhea which will send him running for the hills. That'll teach him to think about asking me to 'accompany him'. Bastard.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I think I have come across the most brilliant solution to the modern woman's dilemna re accompaniment for the September Shindig.

The flu. It seems to be everywhere at the moment and I mean really, who wants to go these RIDICULOUS events anyway? If I'm going to get all dolled up and eat good food and drink too much wine, I am going to do it with people I like rather than musty BCF partners down at the stinky yarra against my will.

Today, I am considering a move to the coast, Apollo Bay perhaps, where I might open a bakery, or a bookshop with a cafe? I can grow my hair long and maybe even let it matt up and turn into dreadlocks, I can rinse it in 'eucalyptus oil' once a month and never have to shampoo, blow dry and straighten again. I can do fabulous amounts of yoga and stride along the beach every day (unless it's raining or too cold).

So often I think that BCF life is not the life for me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

September Shindig

I am slowly learning that in BCF certain months are synonymous with certain events. For example, February is the month we go on a staff retreat, June is the month we have a Trivia night and November is when we have our Christmas party.

September is the month for September Shindig. I obviously have not been round for one of these events before (being a fairly new recruit to BCF) but apparently September Shindig is THE social event on the BCF (incorporating ABC) calendar. It's black tie and down in one of those warehouse event centres on the Yarra. (Mmmmm while we eat and dance we can inhale the stench of the Yarra).

My big concern about September Shindig is (I found out today) that we are meant to take our partners so it can be a bit of a social meet and greet to show we have a life outside the office. My problem, of course, is that I have no life outside the office, let alone any kind of partner resembling person in my life that I could convince to accompany me on the promise of a free steak and beer. I am now faced with the delimna every modern professional woman faces at some point: "Is it ok to pay someone to be my date at a work function so I don't look like a total loser AGAIN?"

I think it is important to intervene here and say that I don't think I am a totally repulsive leper and some people have on occasion said that they find me attractive. I think the issue is not that I am ugly but that I am uber busy and don't actually have time to meet anyone outside work. Unless someone happens to be in my kitchen when I get home or even better in my bed then the chances of me meeting them is absolutely zero.

So ladies and gents of the modern legal world, I need some educating in the way of these BCF functions, do I go solo or recruit (or pay for) a lovely handbag to go with my beautiful Marc Jacobs dress?

Monday, August 6, 2007


No slime this week. In fact no gripes about entering time either. I feel quite excited about the week. We had our reviews last week and despite some of the monumental stuff-ups I have pioneered both in and out of court in the last few months BCF seems to not find me too repulsive. I wonder if this has something (everything?) to do with the fact that my Uncle is BCF managing partner. It's possible but I like to pretend it is not so.

Ben, of course, was earmarked for partner because apparently he embodies 'all the joys that are BCF' now that we are BCF (incorporating ABC). I think ABC BCF would have just been too confusing for a firm name. And he won't stop bragging about it. I got an email from him this morning set out like pleadings arguing why he was the best and most attractive person in BCF. I think he thought it was hilarious. It just made me angry so I issued a counterclaim on my behalf. He then issued a 'no case to answer' and threw my claim out. Bastard.

Kate got a stellar review also (well my Uncle is her Dad so same reasoning might apply here). In fact the response seems to have been universally positive. Maybe they don't say nasty things at this time of year?

On the dirty gossip front Kate and John are all on. He seems to be sleeping over (and in our kitchen in the morning) almost every day now. They really are lovely. But sometimes I do wonder whether he might like to bugger off for a while so I can have my couch back and watch Grey's Anatomy with a block of chocolate on Sunday night rather than having to carefully perch on the arm of the sofa as they make out and recline in comfort, legs intertwined. Small complaint really.

Monday, July 30, 2007

time slime

One thing about slime is that it does conjure up some nice memories, like being a kid, Ghostbusters, and 'You Can't Do That on Television'.

My slime for this week is billable hours. I think BCF life will be a complete mystery to me on that front for a very long time. I don't know if I'll ever understand it. Ben offered to 'take me through the basics' over coffee in the kitchen this morning. But that could be interpreted in so many ways that my only option was to decline his offer. That's a whole other kind of slime.

billable hours
they could give you flowers
instead of this sour
feeling inside

every month
I grind and I crunch
squeeze and punch
this lovely BCF slime

its green and its gooey
slimey and fluid
how disgusting
is entering time

Friday, July 20, 2007

Monday morning

Thank Christ! The tie on the chair did not belong to anyone inappropriate. It is John Claude's. He left it there when he and Kate went to have a 'quiet drink' (wink wink) at the bar around the corner.

The rest of the night is still a bit of a blur. I am in the process of trying to piece it all back together when I see Ben saunter past my office with one of the young paralegals tagging along behind him like some sort of love sick puppy.
This merger is going to change things a lot round here. And in ways I don't think I will like very much.

Already the boys from ABC have sent around an email trying to set up a footy tipping competition. There was no footy tipping competition before they arrived. The most exciting sport discussion would happen in hushed whispers in the kitchen over a cuppa before it was quashed by a detailed consideration of whether Meredith should in fact have drowned on Grey's Anatomy last night.

I miss those days. They were nice and safe.

My nice and safe feeling is slowly disappearing. First I am subjected to 'footy tipping' and now I have to go and meet with Uncle about the splendidly disastrous court appearance last Friday. I know he will rip the rug of independence from under my feet and I will be babied. I understand why he has to do it. Keep up appearances etc. But it just feels so nasty and awful. It's like being slimed. BCF slime.

Friday, July 13, 2007

the clean up

Champagne haze. It's a special state of existence that generally kicks in on Friday nights after the fourth or fifth champagne on an empty stomach.

I think I had a serious case of champagne haze last night. There are a number of clues. The fact I've woken up with my clothes still on with lipstick all over my face and contorted in some weird position on my office couch. There is a champagne bottle and a cigarette butt on my office floor. I am not entirely sure how they got there and I am not entirely sure I want to know.

I feel a bit like Inspector Morse trying to piece together a crime from objects found at the crime scene. All I can find is the champagne bottle, cigarette but and a gorgeous Armani silk tie dangling from the back of my office chair.

I remember the champagne and the bumping into Peters and Jones and even the nasty Ben. I do not remember much after that.

Oooohhhh… I do also remember Kate and John Claude, I hope there is some nice gossip there.

Note to self, never smoke in office again. There are no windows. It will smell. Hopefully, come Monday morning, I will be able to slink into the background masked by my monumental mess up at court yesterday. And, more importantly, no one will remember anything that I don't.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

snaps to Lawyers Weekly

Lawyertrix gives snaps to folklaw at Lawyers Weekly this week for the shout out and recognition of her poetic style and grace (even if it is a bit long winded).

In honour of the folks at folklaw I have composed this short and concise haiku…

every Friday
with baited breath I await
lawyers weekly kiss

Friday, July 6, 2007

the merger

Kate and John were perfect. I felt every bone of my body tingle with the excitement of the setup. I can't believe I had never thought of it before. It was brilliant. I know that it seems contradictory for a woman as anti-relationship and men as I am to be so pro set-ups but they really give me a thrill. I figure that anyone who has had as bad a track record with men and heart break as I have has to get their thrills by watching others try and fail or (hopefully) succeed.

"Two champagnes and beer please," I ask the barman. I am really quite giggly and am starting to question the sensibleness of yet another glass of champagne when I catch John lean in and whisper something into Kate's ear as she smiles and rests her hand on his chest. True love was possible (although clearly not for me) and was blossoming right before my eyes.

"Make that three champagnes and a beer." This was worthy of real celebration. I downed one glass of champagne and was about to make my way across the floor to Kate and John with the other drinks when a hoard of suits knocked my back, led by Peters and Jones, the managing partners of ABC.

Champagne and beer burbled down the front of my no-longer-so-perfect-Friday night black dress with shirt underneath.

"I am so sorry young lady, look what I've done," said Peters or Jones, I could never remember which was which. Although I knew that Jones was the one who had been struck off for a while because of malpractice I could never remember whether he had the grey hair and glasses or the grey hair without the glasses.

"It's ok, my dress had a bad day anyway," I joked.

Uncle appeared from the back of the men laughing, "Ah Trixie, it's been a bit of a day all round for you hasn't it?"

"I guess that's one way of describing it."

"Gentleman can I introduce you to Trixie Allan. My niece and our newest Senior Associate. She is our pro-bono guru and is taking BCF by storm."

"The Federal Court too from what I hear…" a voice from someone I could not see. Ben moved out from behind Jones portly belly and faced me, "rough day love?"

Arrogant son-of-a.... I wanted to punch him. But I resisted.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

the arrival...

I knew that the second the boys from ABC swept in that the firm was going to be a very different place to work. ABC has a predominantly male employee base where as BCF is known as gender balanced and progressive, with a number of female partners, some of whom even work part time.

It was about midnight that they swept in, like ghouls from a scene in a Harry Potter movie, they floated across the floor in their impeccable dark suits and co-ordinated shirts and ties.

Ben Montan was, of course, at the centre of it all. As their soon-to-be-new-hot-shot-partner he was the golden boy of the firm and he was acting like it. My skin crawled thinking about our meeting in the lane this morning and that blonde woman he was obviously so keen to lick from head to toe. It did not stop the other women in the room throwing cheeky glances in his direction though. He was holding court with Peters and Jones as well as (surprisingly) my Uncle. They all clearly thought he was terribly funny.

Kate, however, seemed transfixed by another man.

"Trix," she said pulling on my sleeve, "who IS that?" her finger waved in the general direction of John Claude. The gorgeous and perfect John Claude.

"Oh come on Kate, that's John," I said. Kate knew that I'd been at university with John Claude, the dashing French exchange student who had fallen in love with Melbourne and never left.

"No way…. He looks FANTASTIC!" she sputtered.

"I know, he always did. So bright too, got the uni medal for law in our year".
John was class personified. If I were to date men he would be the sort of man who would tick all the boxes on my list: smart, tall, handsome, charming, well dressed, employed (in a very fine job) and ambitious. He could have done with a little more spunk but given I wasn't actually planning to date any men in the near future I was objectively willing to forgive him this subjective fault in our non-existent relationship.

Kate was clearly smitten. At that moment John caught us looking at him and as I lifted my hand in a half wave (which Kate quickly pulled down) he started to make his way over to us.

"Bloody hell Trix, now he's on his way over here…" I don't think I'd ever seen Kate quite this flustered by a man.

"I know" I smiled back at her teasingly.

"Ladies", he said as slid up to us and kissed me on the cheek. "Looking wonderful as always Trixie Allan".

"Thank you," I said "you too. How's Melbourne treating you?"

"Wonderfully. I love this city," his French accent was delectable, "there are so many hidden gems," he was looking directly at Kate, clearly hankering for an introduction.

"I'm sorry, John, do you remember my cousin Kate? She was the year below us at law school."

"I do now," he said as Kate blushed. Perfect.

"I better go and get some more drinks," I said. "Kate another champagne? And John?"

"Just a beer," he replied. I nudged my way back through the increasing number of people toward the drinks.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Night Drinks ctd...

The board room looks fantastic on Friday night. The partners have gone all out. There is Moet everywhere and little sushi rolls and blinis darting about the room on platters. The roof is covered with fairy lights and some kind of white muslin cloth so it looks like an enchanted forest. The overhead projectors are flashing images of smiling employees on the white walls at either end of the room and a jazz trio is quietly bubbling away in the corner.

Kate grabs two champagnes off the closest tray and pushes one into my hand.

"Magic", she says as if the champagne will fix everything.

And it comes close. The first sip is extravagant, bubbles hitting the top of my mouth and tingling up my nose make my entire body sigh. Finally, it is clear that the day is over and what's more because of the day I've had I can't possibly work on the weekend. I've been demoted big time, which means no working out of hours without supervision.

Another champagne. Kate and I sneak outside for a Friday-night-only-when-I'm-drinking-not-during-the-week-when-I'm-sober-cigarette.

"You ok?" she asks. "Dad said you had a pretty rough day."

"Great, now the whole firm knows how crap I am".

"You know he tells me, he won't have told everyone".

"Yeah, I know. It was just SO crap. I don't know what happened. It's like I have forgotten everything I've learnt so far".

"Trix, it's a totally different world. Coming to civil litigation from crime is like changing from obstetrics to orthopedics. They sound the same but they're really very different".

"I know. I'm just going to have to suck it up and do my time all over again."


"Just when you feel like you're finally getting somewhere."

"I know."

"And I ran into that bloody Ben Montan. Swanning about in his suit with some girl drooling all over him. Jesus. Men like that make me sick inside. It's no wonder women like us stay single. I mean really, what are the options?"

"Don't pull me into your little I hate men club" joked Kate.

"But honestly, I look at Ben and I look at Brad Pitt and I think, how is it possibly worth all the crap? They claim to be not into relationships but if you just want to sleep with them .."


"…they're so clingy and needy and then if you do actually look like you might send them an email or give them your phone number they run two thousand miles at the pace of some very fast marathon runner. And then…"

"Trixie, good to see you haven't let the day bring you down. Announcement… inside… now."

I turn around and Uncle is standing right behind me. My cigarette is stuck to my top lip and I just know my lipstick is smeared from guzzling champagne.

"Um yes… right in" as I rip the top layer of skin from my lip by pulling the cigarette off.

I don't think Kate and I have been gone for too long but the boardroom has really squeezed in a lot more people in the time we were outside. We squeeze surreptitiously into a corner just in time. Uncle taps on the microphone.

"Ladies and gentleman. Welcome. It is our great honour to host this evening and we would like to welcome all our visiting friends and, might I say, allies, to these celebratory drinks." Thank you, another champagne for me.

"BCF has been proud of it's growth over the last few years and I am particularly proud as a founding partner to be able to say that we see our future as a strong one including all our children. We are a close knit family. And we are delighted to announce that we are about to become a blended family." Jesus, this speech could not be any cornier.

"Please charge your glasses and help me welcome our brothers and sisters from ABC Lawyers. From this evening we will be merging into one practice, based in these offices and we will trade as ABC BCF… to new beginnings." Holy shit.

Everyone raises their glasses and chimes back, "new beginnings".

I can't believe they are merging. The rumour had been an alliance, some kind of work sharing, knowledge building relationship but a full on merger hadn't been on the cards. Wow. At least the drama of my day will fade into the background against all of this.

"Oh and one more thing," Uncle is back at the microphone, "our new family is on their way, some already here, so please make them feel welcome. We hope to hear from the managing partner of ABC later this evening."

Clearly, this is going to be a big party and I have a big day to forget.

'"Doesn't Ben Montan work for ABC?" whispers Kate.

The only solution to any of my problems is to drink a big amount of champagne and let it all wash away.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

the pay rise poem

It's that time of year…
partner's hide your coffers,
the salary review is here!
Lawyers prepare the show-stoppers

that you will present
to the management committee
because they will resent you
if you just sit and look pretty.

So think about your virtues,
achievements and goals,
wonderful accomplishments
and great gaping holes.

The ones that you left
when you transferred in March,
on your grad rotation
or secondment to Mars.

Because that's where you'll be
if you haven't prepared
something great for them
like a rabbit, that's long-haired

to jump out of a hat
and make them gasp 'wow,
that woman's fantastic
give her a pay-rise now!'

The system it seems
so scary and big
but it's not that bad
if you have a dancing pig.

That should distract them
for about ten minutes
and you can scribble some numbers,
throw at them figures.

So sensible, wise,
grounded and sure
your offer will make them
want to pay you more.

You hope and you pray,
you've only just found God
but deep down he knows
you work very hard.

And even though the billings
aren't always six and a half
you've made a wonderful contribution
to office morale.

You joke and you laugh,
you dine and you wine
there's no I in team,
certainly not this time.

The admin staff
and office services
know you all personally
and you know they're all surfers.

They leave the office
on Fridays at noon
and they get in their cars
and drive all afternoon.

They drive to the coast
and surf all weekend
but you only know
because you're their friend.

You've never left
the office before five
unless it's on leave
or business that's live.

Because you're a hard worker
and have a heart that's big,
you deserve a pay rise,
where's that dancing pig?!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Night Drinks

Friday night drinks are a law firm institution. BCF does it well. It's in the board room with the balcony (which has a fountain in the corner of it). There are floor to ceiling windows which look out over the city and everyone is ready to unwind. The drinks are good, the food is provided and there are waiters passing it all round so you can just mingle and have a good time.

I've had such a crap day, drinks is the last thing (but also the only thing) I feel like. Judge Z and Mr Niffen squashed me in court. Apparently, if you fail to check out a little thing like WHO OWNS THE HELICOPTERS you just take the risk that perhaps the person you lease them from doesn't in fact own them.

Apparently due diligence is a shield and not a sword. Of course it is.

Clearly, a couple of years in Broadmeadow's Magistrates' Court does not a civil litigation lawyer make.

However, a blunder like this does make for a Senior Associate losing all autonomy and being mentored by a more senior Senior Associate. Goodbye autonomy and dignity.

Think of the pay cheque, think of the pay cheque.

I am just glad the day is over. The little digital numbers in the bottom right hand corner of my computer are just ticking over to five o'clock as my email chimes.

"Don't forget Friday Night Drinks in the Boardroom.

The Partners have an exciting announcement to make and strongly encourage all staff to attend and celebrate with a glass of champagne."

I was so excited about drinks this morning but now I feel exhausted just by the idea. I want to go home and eat a block of chocolate and drink myself silly in front of Sex in the City episodes. I don't want to mingle and feel elated about an "exciting announcement". I have only deflation after today.

The door to my office opens and Kate sticks her head in.

"Come on Trix", she beams.

"Katie…. I've had a shocker" I plead.

"No way missy. I am not letting you get out of this for the world".


"No, non, nein."

"The extra languages don't make it more convincing."

"Come on, you'll feel better after a glass of bubbly" she says, poking me in the side.

"Careful", I say, "my sweat patches have almost dried but you might get contaminated by my fluids."

"Trix, you're gross."


"No, shoes on, let's go. The partners will totally freak if you don't man-up and just suffer through some champagne. I know how much you hate Moet…"

"Moet? If you'd started with that, we'd be there by now."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Back at court, much of the court room has emptied. Judge Z is clearly in a no-nonsense-court-clearing mood. He has a reputation for making the court room feel like a factory line - in and out in five minutes with a nicely manufactured result.
I've been waiting at the back for about ten minutes when the associate calls the case on.

"X and Others"

My skin tingles. I take my seat at the left hand side of the bar table and announce my appearance.

"If it please the court, my name is Allan, I appear for X". It has such a lovely ring to it.

My opponent rises.

"If it please the court…"

"Yes Mr Niffen, I know who you are", His Honour booms through his ruddy red cheeks.

Mr Niffen, shit, Mr Niffen.

I have never met Mr Niffen before. He is Mr Niffen QC. He is good, the best. He invented big litigation like this. I have never appeared on these sorts matters before. I feel scared for the first time in ages.

"Yes Ms Allan", says His Honour", "you have initiated this application."

Do it. Just stand up and tell him.

"Um… yes Your Honour. It's about an affidavit that we have…. It was done last night at about 11pm and I think the affidavit has something that ... and …. Um…"

"Ms Allan. I have been in this court room since ten o'clock listening to application after application and I am getting hungry. There are only twenty minutes before lunch..."

Oh God, that's it. Any confidence I had just leaked through the floor.

"Yes Your Honour." I can't speak. No more words. Mouth not moving. Sweat glands pumping like crazy.

His Honour sighs and looks at his associate, gesturing towards me.
"You have an affidavit?" His Honour asks.
Still can't speak. Brain computer has crashed.

The associate comes down from the bench and takes the affidavit I am waving round in the air like a fan. She gives the affidavit to His Honour.

"Are you going to tell me what it's about Ms Allan or do I have to read…" he flicks through the pages and looks at the number on the last page, "all ninety seven pages of it over my lunch break?"

"Ah….aah… it's an expert witness Your Honour…. My client has advice that no longer means we have to be liable." His Honour sighs and shifts in his seat.

"Mr Niffen, perhaps you could help shed some light on the situation".
Mr Niffen looks at me and smiles gently (I am not sure whether it is pity or sympathy, either way, it feels like hell).

"Certainly, Your Honour. The matter concerns a lease over some helicopters. I act for Madden. We own two helicopters. Big ones."

His Honour laughs. I am slowly dying inside.

"My client" Mr Niffen continues "had an arrangement with a third party not represented here today. We had arranged to store the helicopters in a warehouse that Cadmium owned. Without our knowledge, Cadmium leased the helicopters to Ms Allan's client."

"I see," His Honour peered over his glasses at me. I am shrinking.

"Ms Allan's client did not carry out any due diligence enquiries prior to entering into the contract."

A grumble of disapproval comes from the bench. I know that I have huge sweat patches growing under my armpits, ruining my perfect Friday outfit.

"The affidavit Ms Allan has brought to court today is from an expert witness and suggests that theher client should not be liable to pay the real owners for the hire of the helicopters because of the operation of a Peace Order which says it is immune from any actions in negligence."

"Negligence?" His Honour asks. "Isn't this a property or contract issue?"

"That's my position Your Honour. That the Order does not apply to this case because this case is not a negligence case".

Please someone wake me up. Is this a dream? Surely, this is a dream. How could I have made such a fundamental error? I have not only lost my ability to speak but also my ability to think. I am sure I did look at this at some point and work out why the Order did apply. Didn't I? I am sure I did. Crap crap crap.

"Well Ms Allan".

"I….I…..I…." stammer stammer stammer.

"Ms Allan, I think perhaps you should seek some instructions from a more senior lawyer?

"Yes Your Honour" Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry.

"I will re-convene after lunch but I must say, Ms Allan, I will take some convincing to be swayed from Mr Niffen's position on this issue."
Judge Z removes his glasses and gestures to his tipstaff who stands.

"All rise. This honourable court stands adjourned".

I feel asleep. Maybe I am and I just don't realise?

Except that my sweat patches are very real. And very large.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Out of Office Assistant

I am currently out of the office.

I will be on leave for a long time.

I hope that you don't get too envious of my holiday while you continue to work in a BCF.

I will be back in July.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

coffee and panties

Kate and I share a terrace house in Fitzroy, just off Brunswick Street. Kate is a morning person. I am not. This morning, I heard the door to my room open but I couldn't move. It was only when I felt the steam from a cup of coffee hit my nose that I pulled off my eye mask (necessary to block out the sun which comes through the window above my bed) and sat up.

"Morning sunshine" said Kate.


"Big day today, up and at em!"

"Yeah I know, I'm coming".

Kate was in her running gear. No doubt just back from a run, she bounced off to shower as I contemplated removing the doona and lifting one foot after the other off my bed and onto the floor.

There have been whispers round the office for some time that Uncle has been in negotiation with another BCF and that a merger is pending. Kate obviously has inside information about this which she is bursting to share but hasn't. There is meant to be a big announcement tomorrow and my money is on the merger as the big news.
I've never quite understood the concept of two big law firms merging. Why don't they just keep operating separately, create more work and generate higher fees through competition with each other then keep all the profits to themselves? But I'm not a partner and I am sure you get access to some secret file with answers to all these questions when you get made a partner.

Today is a big day because I have to file the affidavit I was working on late the other night. Judge Z is managing the case - a protracted piece of litigation dealing with helicopters.

Today is the day that I play our client's trump card.

A morning coffee from the coffee cart outside the building and I'm on my way. Affidavit? Phone? Williams Civil Procedure? Yes, yes, yes.

The Federal Court in Melbourne is a modern building. It's all glass and shiny surfaces and multicoloured poles. The court listings are electronic so once I've passed through security I check the televisions on the wall and see that I am listed with Judge Z at 10am, along with 300 million other people. It's going to be a long day. I go to the court and list my appearance with the tipstaff and wait. His Honour comes on the bench. He is in a bad mood, presumably because the list is long. He is impervious to my charm today and lists me last. I let the tipstaff know and sneak out of the court room and down to Healey's lane for a coffee and a glance at some trashy magazines while I wait.

I'm half way through my second coffee for the day and entirely consumed by the question of whether Britney's career is over because she forgot to put panties on before she left the house again and the sun is warming my back and I feel good - confident about the case - when I feel a tap on my shoulder.

"Trixie Allan". I turn and look behind me. It's Ben.

"Working hard as usual." Ben always has a sarcastic quip up his sleeve.

"Just reading up on current affairs," I say, pointing to the magazine. "You must be familiar with these sorts of matters" my finger is pointing to the picture of Britney getting out of a car (with her crotch blacked out so that you can't tell she is not wearing underwear). "Wasn't she your last girlfriend?" I ask, with a straight face.

"It's not my fault she's so heart broken without me that she forgets to get dressed before she leaves the house." I want to wipe the cheeky grin right off his perfectly tanned face but can't think of a comeback quite fast enough.

"Are you back at BCF now?" he asks.

"Yes, they're lucky to have me actually, the CLC didn't want to let me go. But all good things must come to an end."

"Who'd have thought your Uncle would have been so lucky to recruit you, with no corporate experience?"

"He is lucky. Now I can cream you in corporate litigation as well as petty crime." Ha, take that.

"I look forward to it". And then he winked at me. I hate men who wink at me.

Fortunately, the reminder on my phone beeped, "I have to get back to court".

"Don't mess it up too spectacularly" and he raised a hand to wave. I waved back and then as I turned to walk back up Lonsdale Street to the court, realised he wasn't waving at me, but at a leggy blonde, in very unprofessional work attire, who was waving back, huge smile on her face, and shaking her mane of long hair down her back in slow motion.

I hate women like that, it takes the cause back about ten years. That's why men like Ben love them. They probably don't wear panties.

And it's not even lunch time yet...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

it's a new look

Yes folks, I've gone for a new look on the blog today. Unlike many BCFs, I am keen to ensure that my decor never gets old or tired. I've toned down the pink in an effort to create something a bit less fluoro and more classic, timeless.

Why is it that so many BCFs are so hopeless when it comes to decor?

The decor says 'I'm bright
but the lawyers are brighter'
the foyer floor is white
and the walls even whiter.

One floor is orange
another is watermelon
the fluorescent colours make me
want to start spelling

My name very slowly
for the people inside
in case they've been blinded
brain washed or died.

The fuschia coloured kitchen
looks just like heaven
and the 'break-out' areas
a place you'd each lunch in

But only if you're
colour blind or stupid or kooky
or funny inside and
irrevocably spooky.

Or if you've never been
queasy, sick or unwell
might you eat your lunch
in 'break-out' area hell.

Maybe if you're blind and
can't see the 'quotes'
you would stay in for lunch,
take off your coat.

Sometimes on a Wednesday
as the sun is setting
I think about decor
and who should be vetting

The colour scheme palettes
and quotes from above
perhaps Tonia Toddman?
She'd create some BCF love...

tuesday nights

I have just finished a pro-bono secondment. I think this why my Uncle (the BCF partner) brought me into the firm. Re-vamp the pro-bono program he said - we want people to know we care (so they don't think that all the money goes straight to his wife's BMW).

I was over the moon, great human rights work AND a corporate salary, almost an unheard of combination in Melbourne. I'm sure the fact that my uncle is a partner went quite some way to helping me get the job but I do actually have some experience in the area and, mostly, I think I did a pretty good job.

I say mostly because there were two things that may have reduced the overall impact I had as advocate for Melbourne's under privileged.

One, I shagged Paul, the graduate, in a moment of drunken man-hating in the first week (I know it doesn't make total sense to shag a man if you hate all men but this was a moment of cruelness only years of unsuccessful interactions with men could have brought on). I had not, however, considered the fact that we would have to work together every day for the next six months and that I would be his boss.

Two, Ben (we'll just call him 'Ben' to preserve his anonymity). Ben was the bane of my existence. He had been the lawyer there before me. He works for another BCF that also claims to do good for the community by seconding lawyers to pro bono organisations. He was perfect. So perfect, apparently, that it's hard for anyone to match up. If you throw Ben into a dominantly female community legal centre, any woman that follows has no chance.

He is shmick. He has brilliant suits and fantastically tanned skin that suggests outdoorsiness without solarium. He has great eyes that sparkle a bit. And he is a good lawyer. I have appeared against him in court a couple of times and his charm is tangible. Female magistrates find him impossible to resist and he is renowned for getting great results for his clients.

I think Ben will haunt me wherever I go.

The secondment finished about a week ago and now I'm back at BCF full-time. There are a lot of things I like about corporate gorgeousness. My shoes match my handbag. My debt is paid off. There is a flash name-plate on my office door that says: "Trixie Allan - Senior Associate". I'm here, on the seventeenth floor at 9pm on a Tuesday night, eating my favourite Moroccan lamb with cous cous and re-drafting an affidavit. And I don't feel alone. There are at least seven other occupied offices. And that feels good.

top 5 glam-town

At D & H I gathered a lot of faux confidence and learnt to manipulate my troll-boss-from-hell into giving me the work I wanted. Then, when the time was right I slept with the enemy and sold my soul to corporate gorgeousness. Kate and I are cousins. Which means her Dad is my Uncle. Her Dad is managing partner of the BCF where I now work. He used to be the antithesis of everything I believed was important about being a lawyer.

But when he dangled a huge corporate salary in front of me for the four hundredth time and Kate smiled and said "it really is a great place to work - we do good pro bono work you know", my conscience hid behind the dollar signs and my debt accepted the money.

Which kind of means that by sleeping with the enemy I slept with my Uncle. Lucky it's a metaphor.

And you know, there are some great things about going top five, glam-town law firm. I have much nicer suits now. I have an incredible view of the city from my Collins St window office. If I'm here after 6.30pm the firm caterers bring me dinner. My favourite is the Moroccan lamb with cous cous - low GI means good energy into the wee hours when working on a fascinating commercial dispute.

Monday, May 14, 2007

i love being a lawyer

it's like a warm fuzzy hug every monday morning

Ode to the BCF

Oh big city firm, oh big city firm
My heart is all a flutter
Like all dysfunctional relationships
My self-respect is in the gutter

I'm anxious and stressed
I don't sleep much at night
My billable targets
Are so far from sight

My files are disordered
My motivation low
My clothes do not adhere
To the dress code you know

When I see a partner
Walk past my desk
I pretend to work
It's like doing a test

It's only on Sundays
Early in the morning
That I can relax
And ignore the warnings

Some eggs and the paper
Maybe a nice cuddle
And I can escape
The big city firm bubble

Friday, May 11, 2007

the big 3

There are few concepts that you grasp quickly as a young lawyer. Those you do stay fixed in your mind forever.

Confidence, infidelity and manipulation are my top three. Kate says hers are hard work, dedication and longevity. I think that's bollocks. She had an easy ride because her Dad is a partner and she was guaranteed a job straight out of university. He would have gold plated her silver spoon to make the transition easier for her.

Not that I'm jealous. I could have had a spoon. But I chose to fight. And it is a battleground out there. A highly competitive, vicious front line. You struggle to get a job, any job, just a foot in a door. And when you do it's never ending. Billable hours, client relationship management, tenders, schmoozing, Friday night drinks, corporate triathlons and secondments.

I've been admitted for three years now. I started with D & H as a graduate. I lost my youthful naivety to petty crime and conveyancing in the Western suburbs and Broadmeadows Magistrates' Court.

It was great work. I love the rush of being in a court room. The pounding of your heart in your throat as you stand up, the feeling that every sweat gland in your body has opened up and you are trying to keep afloat in a tidal wave of your own perspiration. The sense of achievement when you get a single mother who has lied on welfare payment forms to help feed her kids a community based order rather than jail time. The smug accomplishment when you manage to grind an arrogant jerk into the chair at the other end of the bar table. And the warm golden light that beams down on you from the bench with the words, "yes Ms Allan, I agree" or "I find for the defendant".

It was doing this work that I discovered the top three things I think are necessary to be a lawyer.

Confidence: you have to sound like you know what you are talking about even if you don't. A client doesn't pay you to say, "I don't know". A client comes to you for counsel, representation and solutions. No one wants a nervous kindergarten kid trying to argue for them against the coolest kid in year six. Being a lawyer is a bit like dating and if you need to, fake it, fake it, fake it.

Infidelity: By this I don't mean promiscuity. A law degree in 2006 is what an Arts degree was in 1976. The generalist degree everyone's parents encourages them to complete to "get a ticket". All the smarter, more creative people are doing something else after two or three years and what's left are those who wish they were able to do something smarter or more creative. This means that there are lots of jobs. Fidelity to yourself and your annual income, not your employer, is what is required. Don't be afraid to sleep with the enemy (metaphorically, not literally) to get a pay rise. I did.

Manipulation: This used to be persuasion, but I think persuasion was too gentle a concept to really capture what I mean. And manipulation is perhaps slightly too strong. But I do want a hint of malevolence, a willingness to use ideas and connections to achieve an end. For example, if your boss is a nasty-troll-from-hell you might compliment them on something small because you know they will snap it up like a Chihuahua with a doggie biscuit. That compliment means they like you more, they are less nasty and everyone is much happier. But you didn't mean it. That's what I mean by manipulation. Orchestrating change for the better.