It’s Christmas, so let’s start with a cliché. Season of peace and goodwill to all men, or something like that. Time for family, presents, boozy parties, yadda yadda yadda.
The Bizzle office decorations: a jar of humbugs
Well, humbug to that. Around here, Christmas is the time when everyone else goes off and has fun, and leaves the lawyers to pick up the pieces. Or, depending on your perspective, the time when the lawyers grump around trying to stop the normal people enjoying themselves.
Whichever, here’s the Bizzle guide to the in house lawyer’s office Christmas…
The first question everyone asks is, “When should we put up the office decorations?”. The obvious answer is: not until the Health and Safety manager has sent an all-users email telling you not to do it for fear of sending the place up in flames.
Naturally, everyone will take that as a cue to put up their decorations anyway. The facilities team can then spend the rest of December safety testing the fairy lights and day-glo pink fibre optic Christmas trees, while sections of the office periodically lose power because the electricity load has quadrupled.
You can always spot the lawyers’ desks, though, because they have no decorations. Well, that, and the crowd of people asking why we don’t have any decorations and denouncing us as funless scrooges.
We’re not against decorations, you understand, we just don’t have time to put them up. Can’t you see that we’ve got to finish this contract by Christmas Eve? Oh, and we also have taste.
Where everyone else sees an opportunity to let their hair down, and for a level partying field between bosses and wage slaves, the in house lawyer sees a reckless intermingling of drunken idiots and long-suppressed resentments/crushes/stalking (delete as applicable). No good can come of the office party.
Of course, those good old days when one of our (now long-departed) directors could nonchalantly untie the halter of the future Mrs Bizzle’s dress as she passed by on the dance-floor are long gone. But even where professionalism is the order of the day, there’s still the chance of some old-fashioned fisticuffs between two IT geeks over the affections of one of their colleagues, or for a project manager to tour the venue drunkenly draping herself over various reluctant male colleagues.
All of that and more is available to the in house lawyer who makes it to the party. For two years in a row I didn’t even get that far, because of clients who had to have their work done that very night. (One of them moved their deadline on by two months the next day. Thanks for that). Nothing beats being in an empty office at half nine knowing that your colleagues are getting trolleyed on the company dime in a hotel just around the corner.
The worst of it, though, is the next day. Half the office has the day off, and the other half shows up at half ten, has a bit of a gossip about whatever shenanigans may or may not have taken place, and knocks off at half three. For the lawyers, well, remember that contract that has to be finished by Christmas Eve?
Which leads us nicely on to…
This seems to start earlier every year. This year, our HR team had their end of term Christmas buffet and party games extravaganza on the 15th. In our open-plan office. For two hours. They seemed baffled by the complaints…
But there’s no winding down for the lawyers. Our client wants to have a three hour contract negotiation on Christmas Eve? We’ll just have to evict the inter-department Trivial Pursuit tournament from the conference room.
Or a last-minute call to get the final points agreed before the holiday? Fine, but does the office secret santa draw have to be held next to my desk while I do it?
And I’m really not being “miserable” just because I asked you to turn down your frankly dismal Christmas party hits cd. It’s just that I have, y’know, work to do. Believe me, I’d really rather not.
This has a special place in my heart, being as it is the one part of the office Christmas that I wholeheartedly enjoy. Especially when someone buys a (fortunately ill-disguised) sex toy for the Company Secretary. And those crisis meetings that we hold to avert diplomatic incidents over perceived poor gift quality are always fun.
Lest you think that the Bizzle Christmas is no fun at all, well… you’re probably right. The real fun comes at the end of the financial year, when I can breeze out of the office at 5.30 while all the finance people pull all-nighters to get the accounts done on time.
In the meantime, all I can offer you is a grumpy face and a mint humbug…