For once this post is not all about me, it’s not even going to be a bit about me. This post is dedicated to the people that I spend 8 hours a day, 3 days a week with – my law firm colleagues.
In the adverts for the current Australian series of Masterchef George Columbaris while dissecting contestant Claire Winton Burns’ Beef Wellington says “Who would have thought that a lawyer could cook?”
Fighting words for a little chef that once said to The Age newspaper that he never actually wanted to be one. If I was being unkind, I would say that he doesn’t look like one either. (Neither does Heston Blumthenthal incidentally but I’d be too scared to say that to his face particularly if he had that vibrating absinthe jelly in front of me). In fact, out of the Masterchef Top 50 contestants three are lawyers and one is a law student.
Most lawyers given free reign and exempt from parental suggestions would undoubtedly be doing something else. There are lots of reasons not to study law after all:
1. Everyone assumes that you make a lot of money – this is not the case. Partners in big London law firms have insane and obscene salaries. Most of us don’t. If you want to make a lot of money, become a plumber. People prefer plumbers to lawyers.
2. When people ask you what you do at parties you have to lie about what you do. If you tell people that you are a lawyer, the conversation dries up quite quickly. Be prepared to have a lot of fake occupations on hand to keep things flowing nicely. Fun, ice-breaking professions include pretending to be a Reiki Master/Mistress, brickie’s apprentice, psychic consultant and/or professional dog-walker.
3. People think that you are boring and/or corrupt. Generally it is assumed that you have always wanted to be a lawyer and that you have no other desire in life other than to take a lot of money from people, give them really bad news in exchange for that money and then tell them to go home and forget all about the reason that they came to see you in the first place.
A lot of people come into law because we wanted to do something good with it, to make a bit of a difference. We can discourage litigation and encourage compromise. When we fight off a government department or stop a multi-national corporation stealing our client’s intellectual property, we feel good about ourselves. A lot of us ended up here by default.
Looking round our office for Day 2 of our office photo shoot it occurred to me that every single one of us probably had and has other dreams and aspirations. So instead of waffling on about myself, I thought that I’d ask my colleagues some questions about themselves. What did they want to be when they grew up? What would they still like to do? Here are their answers.
I can’t remember what I wanted to be when I was a child. I only ever remember what I didn’t want to be – a doctor or a lawyer. Being the Dux of the school and a straight A student I was expected to be the person in my year who succeeded. My parents who were delighted with my good grades kept on at me to be either a doctor or lawyer. Since I couldn’t stand the sight of blood being a doctor was out. Actually, by that time I secretly wanted to be an actress. Like a lot of pre-lawyers in the Eighties, I rather enjoyed watching LA Law so applying for law seemed like a good compromise. No-one tell you that Harry Hamlin does not work in most law firms, nor does successful court work involve striding up and down in front of judges looking gorgeous. For a while, I ran my own successful business which I sold. Now I help my husband out in his successful business and I can sleep at night. Or I can until baby number three arrives in a few months time…
More than anything else I wanted to be a ballerina. My mum couldn’t afford ballet lessons or ballet shoes so I spent most of my childhood balancing on my tip-toes while hanging on to furniture and practising my grand jetes, changements de pied and various arm flourishes to what I thought were elegant effect. I still love to dance but even more than that I would like to do so as a lady of leisure in some beautiful European landscape – in Italy or Spain or France.
The Baby Lawyer
From an early age it was clear to me that I wanted to be a motorcycle riding priest. Priests were people of influence and prestige. When a priest stood up everyone listened. Most priests are a little straight though and could do with a bit of edge, hence the motorcycle. It would be an irresistable combination. For a long time being a mad scientist seemed like a viable career option particularly when I discovered how much fun it was creating explosive mixtures from chemicals in the household cleaning products my mum keeps under the sink.
I like taking photographs.
(Other things that Baby Lawyer likes can be found on his Tumblr blog)
NC – Admin
All I ever wanted to be was an interior designer. I was accepted into the Commercial Arts Training College (CATC) in the Rocks in Sydney when I left school. For the first three months, I was in heaven. My teachers loved my design work – I created a lounge room with a real Japanese influence for my first critique – wasabi green wallpaper with pink cherry blossom and black enamel accents. My studies and design work went well until the second semester when I could not get my head around the architectural drawing, the maths and the understanding of perspective required to progress. After that I worked in retail for a while and then into office administration. I still want to decorate – particularly office spaces. This office I love – the atmosphere is nothing like the average law office. If you visited, you would not guess that lawyers work here. That is my idea of good design – turn people’s expectations around”.
Growing up as a kid in the country it seemed to me that being an air hostess was possibly the most glamourous job possible. It was all about the hats, the gloves, the handbags, the shoes and the stockings. When my hearing problems began I knew that this would probably stop me being a hostie if being a short arse didn’t. You need to be tall enough to put the luggage in those overhead lockers and I am not.
One thing that I still want to do and do as often as I can is volunteer work. I have been a door bitch for UNICEF charity functions. Not the best door bitch as I let through more people than I kept out but it was in the spirit of the thing. My big thing at the moment is the Homeless Street Soccer League Program. I am helping The Big Issue out as a volunteer for the Corporate Cup Soccer event between 15th June and 27th June. If you want to help out, get in touch with Denis Smith or Peter Meares!
For most of my childhood I wanted to be a dentist until someone told me that I would have to put my hands into people mouths and that people’s mouths were FULL OF GERMS. That put paid to that career option.
When I was at school I thought that I would be married by the time I was 24 and start having kids by the time I was 27. By my reckoning that would give me the 10 years that I needed to have 10 kids. As it turned out, I got married when I was 33 so I might have to downscale the number of kids that I have. I still want to have as many as I can fit in though. Having a dog has made me much more broody than I would have expected.
I studied journalism. When I was little I wanted to be a TV news anchorwoman because they looked pretty. From people’s reactions to my strongly held opinions, it is probably best if I don’t write them down. My plans to be a writer are on hold. The thing that I get most excited about is having kids.
When I was little I wanted to be a famous artist. At the age of 4.5 I realised I had a talent when I went to primary school and all the other kids asked me to do drawings for them.
At about age 8 I realised that I was going to open my own business. I would go through my mother’s wardrobe slowly and systematically and try on all her clothes and shoes to find – the perfect business outfit. For a number of years I used to cut out and keep pictures of my favourite ‘business looks’ from Vogue.
A long time ago a fortune teller told me that I would have my own business related to numbers. This horrified me as I thought it meant being an accountant. Since the majority of my work over the last 5 years has involved mobile phone premium services, it is clear that the psychic wasn’t talking through a hole in the top of her crystal ball.
The first thing that I remember ever wanting to do was to become a physiotherapist. When I was at school my best friend had cerebral palsy and spent a lot of time going to see a physio. I used to keep her company and thought it was the coolest job in the world. For a while when I was at school I helped out in the Spastic Centre with physiotherapy work. I applied for a physiotherapy course when I left school but had to drop out when I realised that I hated worked with cadavers. (The anatomy component of the physiotherapy course required dissection of corpses, it was truly horrible). After that I did a business degree with marketing and accounts on the basis that I was unlikely to encounter any real dead people on that course. Just the walking dead.
Now, I would like more than anything to become a yoga teacher and do rehab work with students. When the youngest of my three girls goes to high school in 2 years time, that is my plan.