I’ve been Zen AF lately. You know, in between the usual episodic attacks of my multiple neuroses.
And if there’s been one common thread tying those glimpses of sanity together, it’s been a general lack of other people.
Because let’s face it. People are weird.
Especially people who talk to themselves. That’s right, Sarah. You’re so wise. You deserve a cookie.
And all this Zen has shined down upon me a great realisation. Per capita, I’ve probably had more than my fair share of
weirdos unusual interactions. Like seriously. Girlfriend has seen some stuff.
But then an even more sobering epiphany shone down upon my glorious flowercrown: no, I probably haven’t had more than my fair share. I’ve probably had a typical lawyer’s share.
Because when you think about it, the law covers pretty much every single aspect of existing – the good, the bad and the ugly. So it makes sense that being in practice means you’ll basically see the perfect crosssection of society. And that’s a fairly motley crew of individuals, to say the least.
So without further ado – and after way too many hours binging some random tiger documentary you probably haven’t heard of – I give you my living-room reflections on the seven types of clients and colleagues you’ll probably meet in practice (if you haven’t already). And don’t be put off by the apparent gender disparity; despite the names, most if not all of the players are interchangeably male/female/tiger.
Everyone has met a Joe, probably as a colleague early on in your career. He’s a loathsome, offensive brute: yet you can’t look away. The immediate repulsion you feel when first meeting him is somewhat eroded by a growing sense of disarming, underlying vulnerability. Though he’s still pretty repulsive. His interests include making phone calls on loudspeaker, somehow attracting a plethora of romantic interests, provocation for his own entertainment, and questionable grooming.
Ahh, Carole. She’s sugar and spice and everything nice, but you don’t want to get on her bad side because, honey, the flower crown WILL. COME. OFF. Also, you may go missing. Her interests include maintaining a public persona of exhausting positivity, animals, and a suppressed dark side so terrifying it’s like the gaping maw of hell. Also, fun accessories.
We love the Howards in our life. They’re steadfast, predictable, reliable and the voices of reason. They’re usually the one person in the middle of a hysterical, litigation sandstorm that will actually listen to your advice; and if life was like an ’80s sitcom (I wish), they’d be the one in the credits you’d smile and shrug at. But then one day, probably during disclosure, you’ll stumble across a compromising picture of them in a dog collar, and you’ll get that icky feeling in your stomach that makes you want to sit in the shower until you feel clean again. But you will never feel clean again. Howard’s interests include following rules, classic episodes of Star Trek, and a few light slams every now and then.
Doc is the nicest, most reasonable person you’ll ever meet. He’s cool, but he’s also like, super enlightened too, you know? It’s all just a silly misunderstanding about the (alleged) wildly illegal situation he has going on. Doc’s interests include being super legitimate, going out of his way to be a really awesome nice guy, and staying one step ahead of your tricky questions.
If you’re ever lucky to work with a Jeff (and he’ll really think you are) you’ll be treated to a regular schedule of increasingly uncomfortable interactions that somehow always result with his hand on your leg. Jeff’s interests include talking about money, maintaining a questionable wardrobe that smells like dirty socks, and referencing the multiple entrepreneurial enterprises he’s involved with that don’t actually exist.
Mario is a very nice person and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Wishing a lovely day to all you Mario types out there.
Maybe you’ll see him one day in court at Caboolture, in an unsecured dock, whilst you sit patiently waiting to do your innocent little work licence application. Maybe he’ll be cuffed, his hands each missing an index and ring finger – though the fully tattooed remains of the ghost digits remain. Maybe he’ll maniacally scan the room for threats before his eyes clap onto you; his mouth twisting up at the sides in a ‘smile’ that would make Pennywise pop a balloon. Maybe he’ll even lunge forward when someone in the court incoherently yells something out – making you and the complete stranger sitting next to you grab on to each other for dear life. And maybe you’ll walk through the carpark afterwards, white-knuckling the keys so that the pointy bits stuck out between your fingers. Or you know, something less specific.
So there you have it. The seven types of people
I’ve met you’ll meet in practice.
What’s that Sarah? Another cookie?
Don’t mind if I do.
Sarah-Elke Kraal is a Queensland Law Society Senior Legal Professional Development Executive, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was originally published in Proctor June 2020.