The cautionary tale of a failed legal career, Part 7

A Rake's Progress: VII - The Prison (Public Domain)

Part 7: Last chance saloon

Realising that Firm #4 was sinking, I started scanning the job adverts. I responded to two. I was rewarded with interviews at both firms, and in due course received job offers from both.

Which one to choose? Well, one was in my 'comfort zone', doing the sort of work I was used to, and the other was not. The latter was innovative, taking advantage of the latest technology, but involving a lot of public law (i.e. child care) work, that I hadn't done for some years, and that I particularly disliked doing.

Of course I chose the one in my comfort zone.

Firm #5 was another classic 'High Street' firm. Again, it was a bit shabby, having obviously seen better days. But again I found a staff who were friendly and supportive, including a secretary upon whom I could once again rely, as a friend to talk to.

When I joined Firm #5 I knew this was my last chance of a partnership. However, I remember that by this time I was savvy enough to understand that one doesn’t just seek a partnership anywhere - one must first assess the firm to see if they are the sort of firm of which one would like to be a partner.

It didn’t take me very long to realise that the answer to that question in relation to Firm #5 was in the negative. To be fair to them I will not explain my reasons, and in any event I’m sure that the feeling was mutual - they probably didn’t take very long to conclude that I was not partnership material.

So I would 'just' be an employee. That wasn't so bad, especially as at this time I began to amuse myself with this new-fangled thing called blogging, which was opening a few doors that had previously been closed to me.

My biggest problem at Firm #5, though, was the shortage of business. There just wasn’t enough work coming in. I recall making numerous efforts to drum up work - I even made a list of those efforts, and there were about fifteen items on the list.

But it was all to no avail. Nothing made any difference. My workload was never remotely full, and my fee income was, frankly, pitiful. The situation was barely tenable. My days at Firm #5 were probably numbered, but anyhow I was soon to be overtaken by events way beyond my control.

A point has been made by my reader that I may have been the victim of there being too many law firms seeking a share of the divorce/family work pie. There may be some truth in this, especially as many firms at this time had given up legal aid work, and were therefore all competing for the relatively small amount of privately-funded work available in a not particularly large or wealthy town.

Anyway, then came the financial crisis of the late-2000s. Law firms, especially small High Street firms like Firm #5, suddenly found their income, particularly from domestic conveyancing, which had dried up completely, slashed. Like many other small law firms, Firm #5 went on a three-day week. I chose to work from Monday to Wednesday, spending the rest of the week working on my blog, and writing my book.

And the three-day week precipitated the end of my illustrious career practising law. Again, to be fair to Firm #5, I will not go into details. Suffice to say that a dispute relating to the three-day week caused our relationship to break down completely, and I left.

But that was not quite the end of my story...