Trading on Looks

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.


Related:  Life at the Bottom

Chris Thorpe

Chris Thorpe is a respected independent lawyer in the upstream oil and gas industry, and an established lecturer and author. Chris has a LLB in law from Magdalene College, Cambridge and trained as a barrister in London. He worked for eight years' as an in-house lawyer for BP and Marathon. Since 1991, Chris has run his own upstream legal practice, CPTL, which has acted for many upstream clients. He has extensive experience of international upstream transactions, principally in the North Sea, the FSU, Africa and the Middle East. Chris has spoken at many UK and International Conferences and Seminars, both public and in-house. His most popular current lecture is Fundamental of Upstream Petroleum Agreements, a two-day course with accompanying book.