Monday, 26 March 2012
At some point in the lawyer’s career, he would have to set up a Practice of his own. One would find then that the biggest headache is not sourcing requisite financial resources, but in accessing the right Legal staff. We all know that CVs are the biggest fraud: mere shadowy adornments recycled from pre-existing templates. And the same old “tell us about yourself” crap at Interviews do not help matters either. It becomes dangerous then to use them as sole yardstick. That ‘seasoned’ taxation attorney may turn out to be a perennially inept bungler, incapable of unsupervised completion of any intellectual activity. Or worse, the focus may disproportionately lie on the academic laurels, and conceal certain personal habits which would eventually unfold in alarming installments. By then, it is a wee too late!
We therefore recommend a whole new approach at Staff Interviews. No litanies of glowing references or list of personal honours and awards, nah! Our approach is built on a fundamental human truth: A man is only as good as his motivation, no further. To achieve this, the interview session should be limited to just one question: IF I DIE AS YOUR BOSS, WHAT WOULD YOU WISH TO INHERIT FROM ME?
From the possible answers, we achieved a 5-pronged classification of Legal staff. Here goes:
1. The one that wishes to inherit your CAR
He is the drifter. He has no character, no career plan and no long term goals. Odds are, he was ‘forced’ to study Law and merely wishes to make a living anyhow. It is ironic, but if all he wants is your car, then he has no drive. He will make nil independent contribution to your practice, and will merely take instructions, and perform them- just to guarantee his monthly pay. Depending on his (physical) work-rate, you may keep him and throw in the occasional pay raise until you have completely squeezed any possible substance from his skeletal aptitude, then discard his worn carcass for the next victim.
2. The one that wishes to inherit your LIBRARY
Meet the Hypocrite. Mr. ‘Eye-service’. He is the one that claims that- “I am in this profession to build myself; I don’t really care about money.” He is not to be trusted. No man voluntarily embraces starvation. Law Libraries are a useless inheritance. They are not marketable. Why? If you are a general practitioner, it means every other lawyer has your kind of books already, and if you are a Consultant in a unique field, then no other lawyer wants your books at all. The Hypocrite therefore elects to keep the Library in order to cuckold you to believe that he is a selfless knowledge seeker. Bulls! But then, you can make the most of this as boss. Here is the ideal Office spy who will backbite the others to win your thumbs up. More so, if you are of a miserly leaning, you have earned an easy prey. Instead of pay-raises, buy him books and follow up with lectures on how “you will get to become a better lawyer than me someday soon, if you stay focused on knowledge-seeking”. Endure his irritating obsequiousness and keep his salary stagnated. He will not have the balls to argue…that is, until threats of destitution reveal his true colours. By then, you would have discarded him of course.
3. The one that wishes for A YEAR’S SALARY IN ADVANCE
This is the realist. He is the one that will keep you from becoming too dictatorial. He makes it clear that he is in this game for something and will not be shortchanged on any account. He is the devil’s advocate. Odds are that he also knows his onions, and attaches value to them accordingly. You can’t pull the rug from his feet easily. Every employment condition must be written (no vague oral promises) and he will naggingly follow up with email reminders. He is unreliable too because he is ambitious in a strictly individualistic sense and does not give hoots about the corporate existence of the Firm. He may also be difficult to get rid of, because he is well versed with all the statutory terminal benefits and corresponding compensations. So, it’s either you take him on board and behave, or kick him out and run the Firm your own bloody way.
4. The one that wishes to inherit NOTHING
This is the shameless liar and you employ him at your own risk. He is the sneaky one, who probably has nothing to offer and thus has not formal expectations. He is the one that hopes to make his money by swindling you: exaggerating filing fees and cooking up ‘expediency charges’. He wants nothing because he does not hope to bring in anything either. He has no balls to say what he wants, but he wants them nonetheless. (So he takes them when no one is looking). However, you may use him to fill up the gaps, but watch him closely! Keep him away from money, and his name must always head the list when you are downsizing.
5. The one that wishes to inherit YOUR CLIENTS
This is an extremely dangerous man! He is the one that will learn everything and perfect his skills with your Practice, and then go out to build a competing Firm. (Think those old Chinese films where the aged kung-fu teacher trains the thick muscled antagonist who perfects the trade, turns rogue, then beats the teacher to a pulp and resigns him to bitter ruminations…before the hero stumbles by). This candidate is smart and competent. He is confident that the clients will need him as much as they needed you. If you play your cards well, you can groom his loyalty by making him Partner. He thinks growth from a corporate perspective and would serve to preserve your Firm. (Caveat: On no condition should you employ him if you ever expect a child of yours to fill your shoes someday)
I rest my thesis.