Blog Week 85: Publicity, visibility and irascibility.

Sunday 8 July 23.36

I am afraid to say our summer reception was actually quite a low-key affair and it passed by smoothly. I say afraid to say because it does not make much of a story (unlike last year's Christmas party). Numbers were on the low side - not such a surprise given many invitees are now on holiday.

Everyone (clients, Commission official) seemed content with the event. The nicest thing was a lawyer from a rival firm telling me how he admired our slick organisational professionalism. Apparently his firm's summer reception had been a bit disjointed. But he gave no details. I could not tell if he was just making conversation, trying to recruit me or just flirting. Whatever his motives, the attention was nice.

Tuesday 10 July 00.13

"Where is the office rent-a-quote?". A call had been put through to me and I had no idea what the irritated voice down the line was referring to.

As the holidays have started we have a temp on reception who didn't know where to direct the call. I think she had tried some other people before me and the caller was by now pissed off. After a few polite questions it turned out to be someone from an outside communications company ringing from abroad urgently searching for one of our Brussels lawyers to give a quotation to a local publication.

After putting the caller through to the partner dealing with media matters, I was left wondering what it was all about. I had never heard of this communications company before. So I asked Old Timer. I got another lecture. But it was illuminating. I'll tell you more tomorrow.

Wednesday 11 July 00.26

The firm recently started using an outside organisation to manage some of our media matters. We might be a bit behind the game compared to some local rivals. But a few other firms also take the view they can manage it all in-house.

These outside communications people are keen to prove their value-for-money and are trying to make an immediate impact.

Yesterday's office "rent-a-quote" reference referred to the person in the office who will give a quotation on virtually anything legal in his/her field at a moment's notice. Apparently a few offices in Brussels have their own equivalent: you probably know the names and have seen them often enough in the usual (and sometimes not-so-usual) media.

Our partners are taking a "spread the wealth" view and are keen for the "rent-a-quote" role to be distributed evenly amongst them and counsel. Some partners are interested in seeing their name in print more than others. But they are less keen on their respective photos...

Thursday 12 July 01.04

I was in the kitchen when Shakespeare, Hairy and Bill came in. After the perfunctory nods of recognition, I melted into the background as they were talking about some important court case announced that day. Not a conversation I could really join in. Although I was not quite sure what they were talking about, I lingered a bit as I always like to keep my ears open...

At first they were discussing - or more like laughing - through a list of rent-a-quotes that would appear in relation to this court judgment. But then the conversation turned. Hairy started talking about some other court appeal that ended up not getting filed and sounded quite irritated. She was especially annoyed with one member of the case team. "He's a smug bastard and never got what was coming to him. If only we had filed the appeal...their case would have been ripped to shreds and he never would have got his promotion." Bill was more sanguine. "That is the way of these things. No one likes to admit it, but luck always has a role to play over the course of a career."

Pierre then walked past the door and beckoned me to follow. Shame as I would have loved to know who and what they were talking about...

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