"But can't you just slip out of work early?"
1) Your life is documented in 6-minute chunks
You daren’t take a coffee break or a lunch over twenty minutes for fear of not hitting your daily time recording target. That seemingly harmless, chatty secretary who loves a good morning natter is now wasting your precious, billable time. Becoming a lawyer is also the point you (unfortunately) realize that you are a prime procrastinator.
2) You have to record every single part of your day
Telephone call in, telephone call out, email in, email out… ‘clerical time.’ Every tiny bit of the day has to be noted in full, probably taking longer than the original thing itself. There’s nothing you love more than a paper trail. Also everything anyone ever said about anything, ever, gets written down and squirreled away. You know, just in case.
3) You turn into a total pedant
Nothing gets to you more than a misplaced – or absent – apostrophe… It’s just so annoying.
4) Your office and funeral wardrobe are at one
Because walking into your office wearing any sort of colour or pattern seems to cause a ripple of pacemaker trips among the senior partners, your wardrobe slowly morphs into an extensive array of funeral garb: black shirts, black trousers, endless black dresses for court appearances. The good bit is you don’t need to change if you’re ever suddenly invited to a last-minute funeral.
5) You spend your life dragging around a wheelie case full of paper
See point number 2 for more details.
6) Every month you receive your billing figures and feel sick when you realise you haven’t quite met your target
You’re a human pie chart. You’re a human pie chart. You’re a human pie chart.
7) Your hands are covered in paper cuts
You spend days and days swimming in A4 lever arch files.
8) Drafting an advice is like writing a dissertation in a day
In the real world advice is something you’d casually toss at a friend who asked for it. In Lawyer World it’s a heavy, long, stress-inducing, back-breaking slog.
9) Your catchphrase is ‘I’ll need to take instructions from my client’
The ultimate Get Out of Jail Free Card for providing an answer on the spot, ‘oh, well I’ll need to take instructions…’ when a tough question comes up.
10) You really do have to cancel plans last minute sometimes
If there’s a deadline you have to stay until it’s done – no ifs, no buts. This often means calling your friends an hour before you meet for dinner to tell them you can’t make it. The odds of this happening increase drastically if you’re in a Magic Circle firm.
11) You keep spare shirts and underwear in your desk for all-nighters
That, or you’re very familiar with the available selection at your nearest M&S.