I am on my way to a meeting, and I drop in on Jeanne-Marie, head of the legal and commercial department, to discuss how she wants me to play it.
Jeanne-Marie and I first met as adversaries, and over the years she has given me a lot of legal work. We have become friends and, I suppose you could say, sparring partners.
We finish our discussion and I get up to go. I see my reflection in the mirror on the wall of her office. It is not a pretty sight. Crumpled suit, crumpled face, hair all over the place. I grimace and say: “it’s a good thing I don’t trade on my looks.”
“Are you absolutely sure about that?” There is an edge to her voice that demands attention, so I say: “go on.”
“Well” she continues “I was talking about you the other day with some of the young lawyers in the department. They think that is exactly what you do – trade on your looks.”
I am too surprised to reply, so I just listen.
“Look at it this way” she goes on “imagine an asset manager with a technical background. He is introduced to his new lawyer. He does not want to see someone of twenty-six with model looks. He wants to see grey hairs, an old dog who has been around for a while and been in a few fights.”
I am not sure how to take this. Is it possible that clients hire me, not for my legal skills, but because I look like an old dog who has been in a few fights? Is she serious? Is she joking? Or is she just winding me up before the meeting?
I decide to think about this some other time. Now I have a meeting to go to.
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