Partners need to understand what their associates are saying to them, but Associates do not always have the gumption to express themselves clearly and partners don’t always listen so well. Here, as yet another extension of my desire to give back to the profession, are some translations from Associate Talk (“AT”) to Plain English (“PE”):
AT: I could not find that Supreme Court of Canada case that you asked me to find from 5 years ago dealing with the logistics company. I did find a case which seems to make the point you were talking about from the Court of Appeal decided in 1993 dealing with a car rental company. Could this be the one that you were thinking about?
PE: (First Translation): Thanks for wasting my time with your crummy instructions, you washed up idiot.
(Second Translation): Look at how brilliant I am to have actually found the case based on your really bad instructions.
AT: It would appear from my research that the law has changed since you last looked at it, and the tentative opinion that you expressed to the client may no longer be correct.
PE: The law has not been what you told the client in at least two hundred years. Perhaps when you graduated the law was what you said, but I cannot check that because they did not start keeping written records until some time after you started practicing.
AT: I want to thank the partners for my generous year-end bonus.
PE: The word is that the firm had a great year and this is all that I get?
AT: I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity that you have given me to be a member of this firm.
PE: Now that I have a job, I can pay off my student loans, gather some clients and move on to a better firm.
AT: I would like to know where I am on the partnership track.
PE: (First Translation): I doubt that the partners actually have any criteria that they all agree with or have given any thought whatsoever to where I stand. Could you please have a meeting, figure something out and let me know if I am wasting my time here?
(Second Translation:) Can you please tell me who I have to suck up to?
AT: I will try my best not to spend more than 3 hours drafting this agreement as you have instructed.
PE: This is a 10-hour job. I will spend 10 hours, do it right and only docket 3 hours. That way we can kick the confrontation can down the road to when you look at my billable hours.
AT: Are you sure that you want to do it the way that you are proposing?
PE: Listen to me! You are getting this so very wrong but your ego demands that I try to make you think that changing the strategy is your idea.
AT: Do you have time for lunch?
PE: I would really like to catch up on the partnership gossip that you should not be talking about but will.
AT: I have really enjoyed my time at the firm and I have learned so much from you. I will be forever grateful.
PE: You have outlived your usefulness to me. I am leaving.
Once again, you are very welcome.