Friday Files: Lawyer Hygiene

You see some weird shit when you practice law. Funny, yet disturbing. And while creating a better life for yourself either elsewhere in the law or outside it altogether is a serious topic, you have to admit that being able to laugh sometimes while you do it is a gift. Enter, the Friday Files.

I’m going to start with something that didn’t happen to me, but to a couple associate colleagues. They were working with one of the most dysfunctional partners I ever worked for. Let’s call him Max (cause libel suits are no fun). Max, Linda, and Toni were working feverishly on an opposition to a TRO. They had worked all night. Max comes into the conference war room, in his usual disheveled state — shirttail hanging out, tie gone, overly long hair in dire need of combing. Dress socks on feet stuffed into Birks. This happened in the 90s, so both Linda and Toni were in something suit-like, feeling none-too-fresh themselves.

Max sat down and started going over a draft. Suddenly he stops, looks directly at Linda, and asks, “Do you smell something?”

Linda turned crimson, praying that somehow a hole the size of her chair would suddenly appear under her. He must be talking about her. Holy shit, the big rainmaking partner thought her personal hygiene was lacking.

Without waiting for Linda to respond, Max turns to Toni. “Do we have any Lysol?”

“I’ll go see, Max.” Toni, the lowly first-year associate, scurries out. She comes back a few minutes later, brandishing the Lysol she scored from the receptionist. She hands it to Max, and both she and Linda eye him warily, their faces tense.

Max says thanks, itself somewhat surprising. Then, he lifts up an arm, and sprays the Lysol right onto his shirt underarm. He does the same with the other.

Linda and Toni are frozen.

“Whew! I feel better.” That’s all Max says.

This is, honest to God, a true story.

Send me yours, and I might post it. Suitably anonymized, of course.

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer, writer, and teacher, who doesn’t need to make up the weird things that lawyers do. She coaches unhappy attorneys on getting what they truly want out of work and life. Jennifer offers discounted sample sessions so you can try out coaching and experience its unique power. Email her at to schedule yours today.

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