The Survivalist 2

May 31, 2012

‘What is it that you do, exactly?’ challenges our candid new columnist

Photo: Shutterstock


‘What do you do?

A dumb question? Not at all.

In the world of The Survivalist there are no dumb questions. There are just questions.

Sometimes the simplest are the most difficult to answer, but answering them holds the key.

Let’s break it down for you: you are a unit of production for legal services.

Call it a cog-in-the-wheel, a ‘human resource’, a ‘fee-earner’ or whatever you like. Your job is to produce fees for the owners of the business – i.e., partners.

However they dress it up, this is what it breaks down to. But this is not a Bad Thing. In fact, understand this properly, work it like a good ‘un and it can be a Very Good Thing indeed.

What partners care about is that you turn up on time, look the business, and shut up when you need to shut up.

Beyond the cursory, they do not care about your personal development. That’s your job. Partners have a hundred different calls on their time, not least their own careers.

The more self-reliant you can be, the better you will serve both their and your own interests.

What should a good partner do? Provide you with the tools you need to develop, and give some pastoral and professional guidance.

OK. Not all partners are good. And the bad ones can be truly awful. But you do not have to put up with any crap from them. Either change your situation or get out.

There is no messing around under Survivalist Rules.

Clients, on the other hand, care about lots of different things. They care that you listen. They care that you care about them and their business. They care that you are interested.

Clients care about things like you sending them documents marked ‘Urgent’ at 4pm on a Friday. They care about receiving a 13-page letter of advice when they said they wanted two pages. And they care most of all that you do what you say you are going to, charge what you say you are going to, and communicate with them properly.

But in addition to your responsibility to your employer and your responsibility to your client, you have another very important responsibility.

Your responsibility to You.

There is no point ducking this. You are bright enough to get what you need. If you don’t have it now, go and get it.

This applies as much to career opportunities as it does to technical legal answers. If you rely on others to spoon-feed you, you are sunk.

If not now, then eventually. You can bet on that.

Lesson #2 in the Survivalist Guide, then, is simple. You are a cog. You produce. Understand it. Love it. Don’t do it longer than you need to or harder than you need to or f*** over your fellow survivalists to do it. Don’t get above yourself. Understand where you are in the machine and be the best damned cog you can.

Nuff said for now. Over and out, until next transmission. Stay frosty. TS

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