by Charlie du Bois
‘This is why you’re the lawyer, mate’ he says, almost mockingly, but sarcasm, comedy generally, insults and gratitude, like beauty, is invariably in the eye of the beholder.
‘And that’s why you’re dressed slicker than possum-shit’ I retort.
But that’s my colleague, lets call him Colleaguatron, he’s my partner in crime within our firm’s large-scale larceny of our peculiar taste in PI law from competing firms and other legal reps.
Not that we’re wholeheartedly and unethically stealing clients, we’re just helping, and borrowing them for a little while and for a purpose others who can’t be bothered with and showing them a trick or two in a field knowing we have the skills that meet the bill(able)s.
But here’s the brief, of which my avid followers of 2retweeters and 4bacefook sharers will have already observed, I’m not yet a practising (yet admitted) lawyer, and my colleague has never seen the inside of a law- lecture/textbook/exam/court/society’s young lawyers’ drunken trivia night. In fact he’s more trained and comfortable in chipping together a you-beaut’ chest’o’drawers than a sturdy, structurally-sound PI file. We operate in a ‘he-sets-’em-up-I-represent-their-legal-concerns’ type of fashion. Ultimately, we’re just two rugged adventurers of plaintiff law making the big cheeses in our new town take a second whiff/thought on whether they could take on our playground of an eerily grey field.
And today, what we’re on the back of is a rare visit from our supervisor, and an almighty pat-on-the-back.
Heaven hath no frivolity than two lunchbox-heroes twirling in grati-fudge.
There was dancing, there was air-guitar duets, there was drinking of concoctions later on that even Hemingway would warn against.
But it is a wonder WHY we rely on these praises to boost us so. We work hard, as in really hard. Long hours, with at times stressful autonomy and travelling 100s and 1000s of kms in spreading the good word (“gargantuan”, amongst others.. (see what I did there?)), do the yards usually covered by assistant and paralegal to finance to practitioner, and do it with sometimes minimal direction and guidance from above our level of the corporate structure.
We do these tasks and roles as assigned, and are self-motivating enough to keep the ball rolling on our own steam, but it’s these praises, as rare as they might be, that truly gets the motivation at it’s peak.
And it makes me wonder further of how this would affect others, and how much people crave this type of praise and professional gratification. As lawyers, we can appreciate doing the hard slogs for distant goals, and it would be unlikely that we would have made it all the way to graduation without that persistence. I would even go as far to say that this would possibly be the defining difference in our attitudes from the rest of Gen-Y (for those that would dare categorise themselves generationally).
And is it ok to cover yourself in a bit of praise, glory or otherwise, if only just for a little while? Isn’t it alright to celebrate the great, as long as you commiserate and learn from the bleak?
Yes. Yes it is, of course it is! And what a terrible article if that was my big point!
But it’s important to know when the occasion marks for each and to what extent. As throughout my very short career, I’ve seen both exploited or ignored and it’s as important as any other skill that could be brought to any career.
For our roles, it’s sometimes shitty tasks, but it’s sometimes 5-course degustation… fo’free. Is this what they mean in work-life talks at WLA events? (See Courtney Brooks’ great article I’m sick of talking about the work/life struggle with no men present if you’re wondering why I’m commenting on WLA events) or apart of the Pursuit of Happyness?
Am I happy, yes, because I like being a part of ‘those guys’, and currently, I’ve made my individual niche to the point of not being left wanting. Is Colleaguatron? Meeeeeyeeeeeahhhhh beeeee. He shares triumphs and still only boxes air and not me in moments of frustration, two positive signs.
Today, we are both definitely happy, we just got our pats on our puppy-dog heads. Are our superiors? I can’t answer, while the praise is nice and comforting, my stained-oak frame is still minus a practising certificate and those sturdy pats aren’t followed-up by something that is going to pay for Colleaguatron’s and my hobbies/habits.
Praise is great, direction is awesome too, but where does actual recognition of hard-work come into it? And what form does it take?
Is THIS my Gen-Y inner-self impatiently complaining now? Or is this something a baby-boomer should have attended to before they developed SAD?
Either way, to the point of this article, at which point of the spectrum of Hockey’s Age of Entitlement (and I’m going to include Expectation too) is today’s young lawyer? A question I hope raises both broader and specific questions for those who read this.
This role I have outlined above can be incredibly fruitful, but can I even trust that all promises will be followed through? Or that next week’s me is going to have the same fortitude as last week to see it through?
Ahhhhh well, time will tell. Until then, I’m off to discuss the degust