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Archive for September 25th, 2006

Muttley Dastardly LLP is a niche practice, founded by two absurdly good looking, successful, junior partners in a leading City firm who tired of waiting to be elevated to full equity. In the three years since they broke onto to the City landscape in their new offices in Canary Wharf, they have completed a number of very successful lateral hires. By assiduously reading The Lawyer and Legal Week they were able to work out who was doing the big deals with who and then, very subtly, approach the in-house team and poach some very high quality work away; minor work at first which led to much more sophisticated and profitable work later. It helped that Matt ‘Top Gun’ Dastardly had served in the New York office of the firm he had been in. A diet of bagels, 16 hour days and living under the mantra “Bill, bill, bill…roger, roger, roger” he has developed a focus envied by many corporate finance lawyers in the City.

Muttley Dastardly LLP took a high risk strategy by allowing their trainees to write a blog.

Here is one of the first entries…

It is written by ‘Helena’…

My heart pounded as I arrived in the reception of Muttley Dastardly LLP. There were eight of us, six women and two men. I thought it was exciting that there were so many women among the new intake. We were taken to a beautiful room on the fifth floor – the senior partners’ dining room – exquisitely furnished. It is so important to make a good impression with clients. We were given coffee and pastries and business cards, Mont Blanc pens, inscribed with the name of the firm, a beautiful black leather briefase which was also inscribed with the name of the firm, and a book of vouchers for a nearby hotel.

Shortly before 10.00, we were collected by Matt Muttley’s PA who looked more like a super model than a PA and was dressed beautifully in La Croix and very high heeled shoes. My suit looked dowdy by comparison. A short walk down the corridor, we were taken into a conference room with a raised dais at one end. All very hi-tech. We were asked to sit down.

The PA walked to the dais, flicked a switch and a panel in the wall opened to reveal a wide screen HD TV. She pressed another button and the television came to life. It was startling at first. The music was by Queen. ‘We will Rock you’, I think it was. There were images of fast cars, thoroughbred horses, yachts, private aircraft, oil rich arabs, expensive London apartments and villas in Monaco – all very corporate and inspiring. And then we saw Matt Muttley for the first time – his face dominated the entire screen. He didn’t say much – but I will always remember his words.

“You are fortunate indeed”, he said with a smile “to have been selected by my firm. Your first two years here will be hard and demanding. You will work long hours, you will work hard, you won’t have much time for a social life – we provide a canteen for trainees so that you don’t have the inconvenience of having to find somewhere to eat in your lunch break. We don’t have ‘lunch hours’ here – well some of us do – which is why we call them lunch breaks. I welcome all of you. Only three of you will survive to be taken on as associates. That is the way of our world. We have provided you with vouchers to a new japanese style hotel with sleeping capsules, which is nearby, in the same building, in fact, to save you the inconvenience of having to go home if you have to work late – which may well be fairly often . They have laundry facilities.”

Matt Muttley smiled and continued…. ” You will learn how to be an effective lawyer. You will learn to be a focused lawyer and above all, you will learn to be a lawyer who bills. Right from the beginning you will be making a positive contribution to the firm’s wealth which, one day, you will share in. We work in competitive times. Bill hard, bill quickly and pay late. That is our culture, that is our mantra. Be happy in your work. It is still not too late to back-out. My PA has a briefcase with your signed agreement in it. If you wish to leave now – please give her a cheque as you do so to repay us for your LPC tuition fees and expenses. I wish you well. Your first course will start in 10 minutes, in this room. It is a demanding programme which will take approximately 18 minutes to complete, after which you will start making your contribution. It is called “PAGINATION 101, a cliche, maybe, but pagination is very much a part of our work here and it is this work that you will start your own progression to wealth with. Thank you.”

No-one wanted to leave. It was so exciting. Law School was a walk in the park compared to this. I’ve been here two weeks now and I don’t miss by boyfriend at all.

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Time to toss your wigs away?….

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Lord Chief Justice, has begun a consultation exercise with the judiciary that is expected to see the traditional horsehair headgear scrapped in civil, commercial cases and family cases — although kept in the criminal courts. Times.

One of the advantages of any form of uniform is ‘uniformity’. We saw what happened when schools adopted a more liberal approach. The chidren started competing with each other to see who could turn up with the best designer gear – or the anarchic simply looked as if they had dressed in the dark.

Are we to see members of the Bar eschewing Ede & Ravenscroft for more sophisticated business clothing? Are we going to see members of the judiciary in Armani?

I have a close friend whose wig is astonishingly battered and yellow – I am sure I saw it writhe on its own in the oval tin box whih he keeps it in one particularly hot day in July.

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RollonFriday picked this up and, intrigued, I went and had a look for myself. Rollonfriday news is always worth having a look at…you may look at the WFW Blog story here

The concept is a reasonable one. Arrange for new trainees to write something about their experience in the firm to provide prospective applicants for a training contract with an insight into what they can expect. WFW is a well known law firm. Indeed, many years ago I knew one of their more senior partners and had the pleasure of meeting two of the ‘name’ partners. I also had a very good lunch.

However… being the person I am on my blawg, I could not help thinking as I read all the ‘posts’ to the WFW trainee blog posted to date, that it is not so much a blog (It does not use recognised blog software) but is a series of articles in PDF format, written by trainees, obviously scrutinised and cleared by a partner before publication. I have no quarrel at all with that. As I said, above, it is a perfectly reasonable idea. I just wander how many students, reading the ‘reflections’ of the new intake of trainees, will think of dubious Soviet era communications designed to appear open, but pregnant with the control apparatus of the state in the background, and wonder how accurate the ‘insight’ really is. It could backfire.

I will give you a taste and let you judge for yourselves.

Here is Rebecca with her first impressions…

“After being coached in positive first impressions, career development and what not to wear if you want to get to the top, I wonder how many of us were planning a lunch time dash to the shops? We were also given an insight into the intricacies of time recording; I now understand why law schools try to prepare the ground by dividing timetables in to ten minute slots.

There seems to be a refreshingly down to earth and approachable atmosphere, which makes for a welcome contrast to
the tales of trainee baiting and mysterious errands to the post room in some of the larger city firms. Another perk
comes in the form of a first rate restaurant, where food is lovingly served up by a smiling Frenchman. I hear his home
made truffles make the perfect accompaniment to morning coffee. ”

Rebecca, I wish you luck with your truffle eating. Gulp the coffee and consume the truffle quickly. Time is money and…remember that 10 minute time recording slot – rounded up or rounded down? Shopping at lunch time? As McEnroe used to say….”You cannot be serious”.

To give a bit of balance – and have the view of a male trainee – here is Charles…

“There were quite a lot of computers, phones and photocopiers this week. Obviously the management are a little bit
scared that we are going to start undoing the office so the IT trainer and one of the secretaries guided us through all of
the office ‘technology’. This was well taught and well received. “

It is, of course, very important that a lawyer knows how to use a photocopier and a phone system.
And here is a bit from Phillipa…

“Towards the end of the week we were given a talk on ‘Ten pointers for a successful Training Contract’. It may seem like
common sense, but apparently there have, in the past been instances at some firms of trainees being sent home for
drunkenly flirting with clients, and a host of other delights which of course none of the exemplary WFW trainees of
2006 will ever encounter. “

I seem to recall a story in the lawyer many years ago when a Freshfields trainee got drunk at a client event and fell off the boat into The Thames. Perhaps this was an urban myth. Flirting drunkenly with clients? Whatever next. I tend to the view that flirting drunkenly is an occupation which occasionally may bear fruit.

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