The Weekly Grind 2

December 18, 2014

This week, Nathan talks salary differentials, ‘wangs’ and ‘birds’


Q. I’m morally uncomfortable with the amount of money the equity partners are taking home at my firm. I realise that they’re paid in accordance with what they earn, but it doesn’t seem right when a) we have people here earning one four hundredth what they do, and b) the country is still effectively in ‘austerity’ mode. What can I do?

A. Oh, wow, I think I’m going to have to take it really slowly with this one, because you are clearly one of ‘The 4400’, the people abducted from the Earth at various points in history and returned with superpowers to save humanity from itself. No idea? Well, ask someone to show you Netflix, then we’ll talk. Clearly you were abducted from the Earth before lawyers earned steaming great wadges of cash, let’s say AD1650 for sake of argument. You should probably know that despite your century’s valiant attempts to rid England of monarchy, we’re now on Elizabeth II and just about to get Charles III (we had quite a lot of Georges in between), but on the plus side we can cure the pox now so your scabbed custard-stick won’t fall off. I’ll grant you the stratospheric amounts of cash partners now pocket are probably more out of proportion to regular earnings than they were, but you’re not telling me you didn’t know this before you decided to become a lawyer and joined the kind of firm where partners earn minor lottery wins every year? Put your pale excuse for a conscience back where it belongs – campaigning to keep Starbucks out of Crouch End – and concentrate on what you’re going to do with the cash. Or do something useful with your state-funded/subsidised/protected lifetime gold ticket to wealth and volunteer for a Law Centre or soup kitchen. Either way, get out of my face.

Q. I’ve been approached to join my firm’s big rivals. (I won’t tell you who, but think TMT.) I don’t want to sacrifice my relationships here, so the best thing to do would be to wait for another approach from a less controversial firm, right?

A. Not wishing to descend into a bawdy 70s sitcom with references to ‘wangs’ and ‘birds’, I’ll refrain from trying to guess who’s headhunting you, but I’ll congratulate you for framing a question which while on the face of it seems stupid is actually more self-aware than the witless dribble which emanates from the slack lips of the cavalcade of whiny narcissists I usually get stuck with in this job. Yes, your relationships with colleagues are important, but those with clients are much more important and on the assumption you haven’t been a complete two-faced bastard during your current job, your friends will still be your friends if you move to another firm, even a rival. I’m puzzled by your idea of a less controversial firm, though. I take it you mean one which doesn’t sound like the Yiddish word for a crooked penis or a horribly prosaic title for a lesbian porn movie. Try Merkin & Co or Clunge LLP, I’ve heard they both have good media practices. NG

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