Blog Week 89: File sharing in a digital age.

Monday 6 August 00.38

Thankfully a proper summer weekend. Made it to a Dutch beach and fried.

Last Friday Mockney and I went for a long lunch, it is the dead of August after all. We went to one of those Pret-a-Manger type places that have taken over Brussels. Our initial idea was to go and sit outside. But Hairy and her fella were sitting inside and they invited us to join them. I was looking for an excuse not to, but Mockney had already agreed before I could say anything.

It was different to my initial expectations. I used to call Hairy's fella ghoul but that is unfair. He is lovely (or is that loverly?). And he has achieved the impossible and softened her up a bit, at least outside the office.

He talked quite openly about his law firm. Interesting stuff. Scratch the surface and maybe law firms here are not so different after all. More next blog post - lying on a beach is exhausting.

Tuesday 7 August 23.49

The office politics in Hairy's fella's law firm contain more intrigue than a soap opera, at least if he is to be believed. He was cautious enough to not mention any names (but I have since looked up the partners on their website and, admittedly, the jigsaw pieces appear to fit together).

They have one particular matter which has boosted an often overlooked partner. By contrast another more prominent partner has been frozen out. So what? After all partnerships in some firms are not the friendliest of places. Yet Hairy's fella's office does not have an "eat-what-you-kill" reputation either locally or globally. The often overlooked partner has always got with everyone and the frozen partner has a lot of expertise in this particular sector. However sharing the file spoils is not on the agenda.

The theory around his office is that the excluded partner has lorded it over everyone when his clients provided the bigger matters. But offices have memories and now it is pay back time. The overlooked partner is too subtle to act in the same way. Things are too busy and this matter will be remembered.

Friday 10 August 00.36

Hairy's fella also told us about a recent document version control incident. An esteemed, elderly senior counsel works at his firm and this guy really does work (not simply a legal "rockstar" adding grey-hair glamour to the practice). But this senior counsel's work tools are from a pre-digital era: pen, paper and occasionaly a dictation machine. He is heavily dependent on his secretary for the preparation of documents, emails etc and file management.

Recently they had a matter where they were working to a tight time deadline in the early hours. There was one master document and all revisions were being inputted by one secretary. Unknown to everyone the senior counsel, on holiday, was working on a separate hard copy version. His extensively revised draft was faxed from his hotel and late in the proceedings reception dutifully passed it to the team. Immediate panic ensued as it became clear his substantial revisions were based on a very early and out-of-date draft. So the counsel dealing with the matter "on the ground" had to ignore most of the changes; nothing else was practical in view of the timing. Now a few ruffled feathers will have to be smoothed. Who likes spending time working on holiday for nothing?

I don't know of anything like that happening to us. But it sounds like an accident waiting to happen...


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