The Obiter Truth: Dear Miss Star Client

Manini Brar
Manini Brar

The Obiter Truth is a catalogue of everyday experiences in the life of a young lawyer hoping to find humour in the bizarre and sense in the chaos. A hat tip to the comical struggles of young lawyers everywhere.

Ok, you have my attention. I have taken in the swanky hand-bag, the 60’s Hollywood flipped bob and the two subordinates carrying your files. I have patrolled my boss’ office three times to figure out what your meeting is about. It sounds like a big arbitration and all my limbs are crossed that it comes to me.

I did a mental cartwheel when the pyramid of files landed on my desk minutes after you left. I like everything about it. Glamorous MNC, great for name-dropping. High stakes, it will have the boss’ attention. Trips to Guwahati, my best friend lives there. All in all, you have nothing to worry about. This is an important one and I am going to do a good job for you.

I am so glad you are responsive over emails. Did you notice that your files were all over my cabin the second time you came to office? An associate is spending the week drawing up a list of dates and documents. I hope you are satisfied that I have rolled my sleeves up and jumped right in!

Ok, you want to message me on WhatsApp, and Messenger, and do an unscheduled phone call occasionally? That works. Shoot away whenever you have a question. Don’t you hesitate. I will drop everything else and respond to you first.

Ok, you want to have a quick chat after dinner tonight? Or Friday night? Or Sunday early morning? Sure. But now that we’re talking I am wondering what the urgency was. Couldn’t we have waited until office-hours? Never mind, I want to keep you happy. Maybe this is a one-off thing for you. I’ll let it slide. Let’s talk about what you want to talk about. Matter of fact, let’s analyse it threadbare.

No, the tribunal isn’t likely to advance the main hearing. It took arduous coordination of multiple timetables to get the dates we have. I can always shoot out an email and see what happens. No, it may not be possible to get a stay on all their business transactions without showing adequate cause. I can always do some snooping around on the MCA website and get back. You know, sometimes there is nothing to do between hearing dates, and that’s ok. Just an idea: we don’t need to find things to do when there is nothing to be done.

Now you’re telling me about your family and I am wondering why. I guess I should share something personal too. Maybe it will forge a special bond between us. Maybe you will become a long-term client. You tell me about your nephew and I’ll tell you about my plans to take a sabbatical next year. The good ol’ Indian professional relationship.

Ok, I can read the contract your nephew has with his tenant in Civil Lines and see if an eviction is possible. I can talk to the agent trying to sell health insurance to you and make sure it sounds right. But you know my LL.M. cost me a kidney right? I also suffered a string of unpaid internships and under-paid jobs to get this far. And the struggle continues: three years in court and low self-esteem only get one as far as minimum wages. Just an idea: I could stick to giving you professional advice and getting paid for it.

Not to press the issue, but I haven’t taken on a new matter since yours. There is simply no time. The arbitration is complicated as it is. Then there are your urgent emails, and urgent phone calls, and messages, and personal requests to think about.

It may not have crossed your mind, but I haven’t had one completely free weekend in about four months. My parents are a two-hour flight away but I haven’t made it home for their birthdays. I have a dim memory of what my friends look like. Just an idea: maybe you can hold off some steam if I don’t reply to every roving inquiry within half a day. I am not actively avoiding you or busy smelling the flowers at India Gate in the middle of the day. No need to message the boss, or send me multiple reminders, or call me five times.

Ok, maybe I need to take a break, go on a holiday. Come back and re-assess. Smother my insecurities and get someone else to chip in with your arbitration, take up a smaller matter on the side. You would get twice the attention that way and I would get half my life back. Just an idea: you could be open-minded about having a different point of contact every now and then.

What? You told the boss that I was thinking of a sabbatical! Why would you do that? I thought we shared a special bond! I went all the way for you, and you didn’t take a minute to shrug me off!!

I wish I had never been so enthusiastic about your matter, or you. Honestly, I’d rather do anything else than deal with you. I mutter under my breath when you call but what can I say? You are Miss Star Client and you pay the bills, or promise to (they are stacking up). Just an idea: maybe you should consider a different counsel.

No. Wait! Scrap that last idea. What will I do without you? Here, here, I’ve got my best smile on and I am going to do my job.

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