Saturday, November 14, 2009

In name only

"I'm a lawyer...?" I squeak, with the rising intonation that marks Australians as a deeply insecure people.

I still can't prevent an incredulous tone from creeping into my voice in response to queries as to my calling.

I might be able to clip-clop convincingly across the cavernous marble foyer in various combinations of trotters and corporate clobber, but what is it that I do all day once I've swiped the security pass and deposited my rear in an over-priced chair* in an open-plan stall?

A measure of legal research gives me something to furrow my brow over when striding purposefully to the toilet, or trundling up George Street on the bus. But more often than not, I'm printing, collating and proofing documents (the latter for factual, not legal, accuracy) and searching for evidence more elusive than the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I should count myself lucky that I get paid more than most for menial labour, I know.

I attend training seminars and workshops where all manner of breakfast pastries, exotic fruit plates and gourmet sandwiches are on offer against the glinting backdrop of Sydney Harbour.

A video-screen projects images of suits in The Firm's outposts, similarly engaged in the arduous task of letting Law-Talk wash over them while slathering butter on a second slice of toasted Turkish.

We are cosseted children, clearly.

But it still feels like a swindle.

Trained in high-minded legal principle, we return to the pens to practice drudgery.

* I do love that chair, though.

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