Tuesday, December 2, 2008


To bring you up to speed:
- Jean-Claude has moved into our gorgeous little Fitzroy terrace which makes it feel even smaller.
- The cake mail mystery remains completely unsolved but has not been repeated or followed up with any other food-stuffs in an envelope.
- I have lured a big new client (who I obviously can't mention) and we have some juicy new matters that you will hear about soon.
- Ben has become my litigation lackey and is an excellent dogsbody now that I am dominating. His taste in ties is still excellent and his ability to tie a Windsor knot is second to none.
- I have been astounded, with a new intake of fresh faced clerks, at the lack of interest in earning stripes (we had to earn serious stripes before we could even photocopy, these folks want to write the advice to the client right away!!)
- Adam is brilliant (and surprisingly still around given I hardly ever see him) and there is the possibility of cohabitation some time in the not too distant future.
- The Christmas party is this weekend and they are putting us all on a bus out to the Yarra valley (not only will we be drunk but stuck with each other on a bus - how can you sneak out between mains and dessert with this arrangement?)

Anything I've left out?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I am sorry I have been in hiding for so long. There has been much activity at BCF, especially in the IT area. A comprehensive sweep of the system in June this year left everyone on edge. I am not sure how it worked (I still don't really understand how the internet works) but they essentially did spot checks on site access for all users. Anyone with regular visits to non-work related and suspicious sites was tagged for further investigation.

Shivers went up and down my spine when IT sent an email saying that 'blogger' was the site they were focussing on for the next two weeks and that they had identified a number of users who appeared to be running blogs during work time on 'difficult issues'. It was just revealed last week that the 'blogger' they had identified was a Senior Associate in the Sydney office who was running an erotic literature blog during work time. Obviously a no-no. It seems I am safe for now.

More detail on office events to come...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

i'll be back

Unfortunately, for those of you who have been such kind supporters of my rantings, I am going to have to suspend operations for a little while. A couple of people are sniffing about and getting a bit too close for comfort . I will be back when things have calmed down a bit.

Keep lawyering!

Monday, June 2, 2008

too far?

Following the strangeness of cake mail, things have largely gone back to normal here at BCF (well as normal as things ever get).

We have one week left of discovery, the affidavits are due with the Court on Monday. I feel strangely sad that the process is coming to an end. I know that it's not really coming to an end and that lodging the affidavits is actually just the beginning of the process but I am not sure I want to give up the wave of billable hours I am currently riding. It's a sweet sweet thing to be meeting budgets, exceeding production targets and generally being an all round favourite.

I had my performance review lodged and approved at 'exceeds expectations' today. I am being sent on the national 'earmarked for partnership' program which, unfortunately, is going to be held at a little resort in Noosa later in the year.

Ben also had his performance review scheduled for today but his was some time this afternoon and I have not seen him since. I offered to take him for a drink afterwards and I am expecting my phone to ring any minute now.

Or maybe he just went home, apparently someone left a copy of the latest lawyers' weekly with the ads for senior associate positions circled in red on his chair.

People are so unkind.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

cake mail

Sometimes things happen at BCFs that just make no sense, come out of the blue and for which no reasonable explanation can be found.

Today, I received a piece of cake in the mail.

A real actual slice of cake. It is a dark cake, quite thinly cut in an oblong shape (not a triangular wedge). It looks like a cross between chocolate cake and rye bread. It is wrapped in glad wrap and about the size of my hand. It came in a yellow envelope with no post mark, a 50 cent postage stamp and the address label was typed.

I am too scared to open it in case it is some sort of chemical death trap disguised as cake.

This is actually the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me. Ah the BCF, just when it was starting to make sense, someone sends you cake in the mail.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

the un-burgeoning of ben

A kind reader left a comment a little while ago offering himself as a suitor if my 'burgeoning' love affair with Ben did not work out. There were so many layers of difficulty with the statement that I chose to ignore until today.

For clarity sake, I would like to point out to my kind reader that none of the difficulties revolve around his offer and if things do in fact go awry (not specifcally with Ben but with romance generally), I will indeed drop him a line, in the very public forum of this blog.

The reason I have chosen to address this comment today is that things could not possibly have placed themselves FURTHER away from the idea of a burgeoning love affair today.

As you know, Ben and I are in discovery isolation at the moment, supervising junior lawyers and reviewing work. The hours are long, the work is repetitive and it is very difficult to stay awake. There is a lot of coffee and food from the caterers. We are in a small internal meeting room on the twentieth floor and it is just us in there all day every day.

The caterers made us a lentil salad for lunch today. And yes, you guessed it, the discovery room Ben and I have been working in has become a gas chamber. Lentils obviously do not sit well with Ben and the man is doing some seriously stinky farts. I have often wondered about the politics of farting in your own office (especially when someone else walk in directly afterwards - to warn or not to warn?) but in a shared workspace?! Unacceptable!

Rest assured, the man is becoming seriously unattractive in a hurry.

Add to that the fact that Adam is behaving like a model suitor (gallery trips and attempting to book a weekend away despite my long work hours)and Ben has most definitely un-burgeoned anything that my dear reader was alleging he had burgeoned.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

pay rise poem 2008

Oh yes, it's performance review season again! The hunters are out in full kit, their hounds sniffing out weak ones, guns poised and heads cocked.

It is incredible that the people who have drunkenly sung at me, called me 'not too bad for a skirt', bribed me with pash photos from September Shindig and revelled in fake pieces of art made from a colander and bulldog clips will now be deciding my fate for the next year. I imagine it's a little bit like dealing with kindergarten children at recess time.

Now admittedly, there is not too much to decide in relation to my fate because Peters' VGM, pro bono and my recent average of 9 1/2 billable hours a day thanks to discovery will put me in the 'exceeds expectations' category. But all this got me thinking - whatever they do with me, will it be enough?

The term elegant sufficiency used to be bandied about by ladies who wanted to indicate a satiated appetite. Can the same principles apply to pay rises? Is our hunger ever satiated?

And so, we come to this year's pay rise poem...

I want
a lot of things
I can't have

Louboutin shoes
Chanel and
gucci handbags

but at work
I want
and never get

a sense
of pride
of no regret

crime was
even if unclean

is a different scene

the people
are nasty and
incredibly rich

despite my efforts
I'm in this
soul-less ditch

so pay me
more money
and i'll go away

but not
for too long
perhaps just a day

but no matter
how little
small or big

it won't be enough
so dance
little pig

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

the curse of competence

What I am about to say is going to sound very arrogant. Maybe because it is. Being good at your job is a total curse.

I have been smashing it at work recently. I have nailed discovery from every angle. I have revolutionised colour coded tagging systems and replacement coloured sheets for original files. I have charmed the litigation support unit and developed an awesome new database function in the software to make everyone's jobs way easier. I have even updated the litigation manual and refined the section on discovery so everyone can learn from my mistakes. (yes, it's true I too am finally learning from my mistakes).

Other people started to see that I was doing my job and doing it fairly effectively. Now they all want me to do work for them. Then a senior associate in our team resigned and guess who got all the files?

The only benefit of being so insanely busy is that I am going to have to find someone to help me with all the work.

His name is Ben. Oh sweet payback. Partnership here I come. Would it be a bit too obvious to write off his time and claim it as my own? Maybe if I started with a little bit here and there no-one would notice...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

sleep, stress and date number three

Last night for the first time in ages I had a good night's sleep. At the risk of sounding somewhat Heath-Ledger-esque, sleeping when you are stressed can be incredibly difficult. As you know, I have been in absentia for the last couple of weeks, consumed by litigation strategies, affidavits as to documents and discovery. We are settling back into a bit of a pattern with some more regular hours now and the heart pounding, sweaty palm stress of the last few weeks is starting to fade.

Which leads to the issue of sleep. Obviously, when the stress and anxiety are less, the sleep is more. It's very easy when you're under pressure to get into a cycle of long hours, no exercise and bad office diet. You don't get to blow off steam at the gym because it's shut when you leave work and by the time you get home you're exhausted but can't stop your mind racing… so you have one glass of wine, which becomes two and then maybe three (which means you may as well finish the bottle) just so you can relax and let it all slide away into a light, fevered, broken night's sleep before you're up and do it all again with the aid of too much coffee.
We all know that this level of commitment to work is a little bit unhealthy but when you're in the middle of it feels like you have no choice, like you have to keep soldiering on and that the matter will fall apart if you're not there.

And how the hell do people maintain relationships in this madness? The person I spend most of my life with is Ben, at a conference room table with a pile of documents and bad office food I have learnt to seriously dislike (even the Moroccan lamb with cous cous doesn't cut it any more). Poor Adam has had to book date number three a week in advance in the hope I will be able to escape for dinner at the Panama dining room (excellent date venue) by planning my week properly. And how on earth am I meant to find time to prepare for date number three when I am going to be in the office all day Saturday?

Why don't time management courses properly address these issues?

Monday, March 31, 2008

a note from the other side....

So I haven't posted for a while because I have been so insanely busy with a GINORMOUS piece of litigation which is slowly sucking the life out of me as well as most of the other lawyers in the team.

It's great timing, coming up to review season, to be billing 11 hours a day but how sustainable is it long term? 'Not very' would be my answer.

And I have so much to fill you in on: the move of the retreat from Melbourne to Lorne (well that's not actually very interesting they just lied to us and changed it without telling anyone); Ben's official demotion back to Senior Associate (the office wide email was issued last week); my insomnia (which is RIGHT out of control and making me do strange things); the few but very promising dates I have had with a state public servant called Adam; and the fact I have developed an obsession with baking my own bread.

I will try to come back and post again soon but it's not looking good. Hope you're all well! xx

Sunday, March 9, 2008

a weekend at lawne

OK, I know it's spelt Lorne, not Lawne but crikey, we did a good job trying to put the 'law' in Lorne this weekend, 'at home, together, at work'. When I say weekend, I really mean Thursday to Sunday morning. Question number one about staff retreats: why is the timing so weird? Surely they want us to bill so why not take us down Friday night and put us up somewhere really swanky and give us massages and pedicures to ease the pain of having to sacrifice our weekend?

Question number two is how is it possible to politely listen to three of the four partners in my team serenade the team with some 'golden oldies'... yet again? The first couple of times I watched the partners down a couple of bottles of what Rumpole so politely called 'Chateau Thames Embankment' and then break into song (without even a karaoke backing track) I thought it was endearing, in the same way you think your grandad spilling his coffee out of side of his mouth is endearing (but still requires intervention). After the third or fourth time, I wanted to scream 'you are NOT Tom Cruise and you're right, I have definitely lost that loving feeling'! This time I did manage to quietly move and pretend I was part of a more sober and better behaved team and I think some people did actually believe I was the new girl in the 'real estate' team for a while.

Surprisingly, it was Ben who made much of this retreat bearable. He has decided to throw caution to the wind and admit that now Uncle is back it is unlikely he will continue to hang on to partnership for much longer. So, like all good men, he has stopped trying. This meant that when the Meyer Briggs personality testing started he didn't want to indulge it and threw out some brilliant one-liners about people's level of extroversion or feeling-ness. Laughs all round.

And more importantly, the self declared defeat means my terrible attempt at scheming can remain just that and all I need to do is offer to help Ben by sharing some work with him so when he does inevitably build up his cleint base again, I can take the credit for it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


The BCF staff retreat is this coming weekend.

Usually this means a weekend somewhere like Apollo Bay or Lorne and everyone drinks too much and then, hungover the next day, is forced to participate in 'trust' exercises. Of the you-fall-over-and-we-all-catch-you variety.

This year they've decided to do something a bit different and have booked out one of the hotels so we can all have a weekend in Melbourne 'at home, together, at work'. That's seriously the tag line for the retreat.

So we have been forced to sacrifice the ocean paddles for a tour of Melbourne's "secret laneways". I reckon if they're still secret from me now I don't really want to know about them.

And really, I don't want to be stuck down some pokey alley way, half cut, with a partner (or even worse Ben) breathing down my neck as we wait for the next teeny tiny bar to have enough room for more than two of us to sit and have a drink together. Not a great idea when over 100 lawyers work in the same place.

I am trying to work out how to get out of a night in substandard hotel accommodation when I have perfectly lovely 250 thread count sheets and all my creature comforts 'at home, alone, away from work'.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

baking my way to the good books

Alright, as I'm sure you all predicted it's not been that easy to make Ben look like a super freak by buying him double shot coffees. Attempt number one led to exceptional motivation and energy as well as a massive number of billed hours (what else do you do if you're so wired you can't sleep!) Attempt number two made him break into a very interesting sweat at our lunch time CLE but everyone was just concerned he might be getting sick and sent him home. (Can you believe a law firm actually chose to send someone home rather than let them get sick at work, making them money!)

So I'm back to the drawing board.

There haven't been many brain waves of late so I tried Kate for inspiration. She didn't seem too impressed. It's probably down to the fact that Jean-Claude and Ben are old 'mates' (how old I'm not sure but they've obviously worked together for a while). In fact, as she and I cooked up some pasta post work (with standard glass of wine glued to hand) she made it quite clear that she thought my plan was a little 'unethical' and not what 'ABC is about'. I think she's just jealous she didn't think of it first.

Maybe she's right that hard work and dedication will pay off in the end. My challenge for this week is to push my cynicism aside and try a bit of the old Julie Andrews style hard work and good ethics. (Remember I'm a lawyer, I can do anything.)

Lesson learnt = be careful about sharing sneaky plans with Kate (she used to love scheming with me when we were at University, how love has changed her).

Way to get back in good books = cook up a batch of my fabulous sticky date and ginger biscuits.

In fact, I'm going to cook a second batch and take them in to work for mornos tomorrow to demonstrate the full extent of my Julie Andrews goodness.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

double shot

When I first started at D & H as a criminal lawyer, there was an English bloke working with us who was a bit strange. He used to turn up for work about midday and then work through until three or four in the morning. Now, I know we lawyers often establish strange study/sleeping patterns while we are at law school but this bloke was especially strange. He consumed an awful lot of coffee and was always a bit jumpy and nervous. No one was really sure whether the coffee was causing the jumpy nerves or whether he was up to something very dodgy and that he just needed to keep drinking coffee to keep himself awake to get through it. My personal theory was that he worked London hours and was involved in some sort of international crime scandal. Anyway, he ended up leaving D & H in strange curcumstances. One day we got an email from the boss saying it was his last day and then he never came back. No explanation, no reason. Flat out weird.

Despite the weirdness, it was an interesting lesson in how too much caffeine can mess you up and make you seem shifty.

I was thinking about this because I'm just about to pop out for my morning coffee from Nonna's, I think I'll see if I can pick one up for Ben while I'm down there.... double shot perhaps?

Monday, February 4, 2008

in search of the perfect problem

I have just had the most deliciously evil thought.

You are aware that after the 'Niffen' incident I was put on seriously restricted duties, confined to the pro bono program and tethered to Ben's ankle until I proved my self again. The matter for Peter's VGM seems to have redeemed me in the eyes of the partners and the work situation for 2008 is looking tres positive.

Ben is looking more and more precarious. There is no way I can stop him crashing down unceremoniously so the right thing do is offer to cushion the fall. Be there as the supportive friend as he is swiped from partnership (perhaps even plant a seed in the minds of Uncle and Peters that all is not well with Ben) then slowly take over his work to build my own partnership worthy practice. This is all for the good of BCF of course, I wouldn't want to see the quality of the work and client satisfaction continue to flounder under Ben's poor guidance.

I am, after all, 'not too bad for a skirt'. I just need to find the perfect problem to knock Ben off his perch once and for all... drugs, terminal illness, gambiling problem? What can I gossip madly about to Kate and Uncle to destroy him? Ideas anyone?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

goats of scape

We have been snowed under in the DR section of BCF for the first month of 2008. I'm not sure what it is about the new year but it has created a litigation frenzy and it's forcing everyone to burn the candle at both ends to keep up.

Part of the frenzy is due to Uncle's return. Many of his matters lay dormant while he was on leave (despite the fact Ben was meant to be baby sitting them) and we are all running round like chooks without heads blindly picking up the pieces.

Except Ben. Ben has very little to do. The partnership is losing faith in him after he dropped the ball so badly with Uncle's matters. The extent of it all is just coming to light now Uncle is back.

For example, in one matter he didn't check the court deadlines and failed to file a defence in the Federal Court, without seeking an extension of time, which will be disastrous if we ultimately lose (in the context of a costs order) and losing is always a possibility in these big cases.

This seems like fairly simple stuff. But who am I to judge? I have had my share of disasters.

The big question is, who he will take down with him? Who will be the unfortunate scapegoat this time? I feel quite safe because I only worked on VGM's matter with him and the firm is stoked with the outcome of that one.

It's a cut throat business.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

new year, new mission statement

BCF is embracing the new year, led by Ben, who is terrified that 2008 is going to be rung in with the sound of his demotion as Uncle returns and takes back his practice.

Unfortunately, the way Ben is addressing his fear is by making himself heard on every issue that could ever possibly need addressing and by sending an all staff email to further clutter our overflowing inboxes. He obviously thinks that if he sends enough emails, the partnership will think he is indispensable and retain him as a partner if for nothing else, then at least for his emailing abilities.

This morning's effort:


2008 might mean many things for BCF (incorporating ABC) but I think it is best encapsulated by our mission statement for the year: "working with you, not for you".

But what does that really mean? Here are some of my thoughts about how "working with you, not for you" might shape your 2008:

- Work with clients to shape their future; don't just work for them on a particular task.
- Work with the community to build a stronger humanity though pro bono and volunteer work under the banner of the BCF brand; don't work for the community and fail to acknowledge you are from BCF, make it known where you are from and work with us to build our brand.
- Work with the environment to create a strong future for the next generations; don't let your work environment dictate your approach to environmental matters: recycle, only print when necessary and think about the amount of waste you are generating.

I encourage you all to work with the partners to achieve the goals we have set for 2008. The frst task we ask you all to assist us with the removal of all rubbish bins from every one's offices. We are going to have one communal rubbish bin on each floor. We firmly believe that individual rubbish bins create unnecessary waste through excessive plastic bag usage and we will be eradicating all individual rubbish bins as of COB Friday. Any contraband waste receptacles will be confiscated.

Come on, work with us, not for us!'