Skip to comments.Ketchup Spill Sets Off Lawyer-Secretary Feud
Posted on 06/17/2005 3:50:08 PM PDT by freepatriot32
LONDON (June 17) - An e-mail between a highly paid lawyer and a secretary over a tomato ketchup stain has become the talk of legal circles in London, leaving the sender distinctly red-faced.
British media reported with glee the tale of Richard Phillips, who e-mailed the secretary to ask her to pay a four-pound ($7.30) dry-cleaning bill after she accidentally spilled tomato ketchup on his trousers.
The secretary, who had just returned to work after her mother died, was so irate she forwarded the e-mail to several colleagues at the firm of Baker & McKenzie, who in turn passed it on to others.
The e-mails quickly appeared on the Internet and in the press.
"Dear Jenny," the lawyer wrote, "I went to the dry-cleaners at lunch and they said it would cost four pounds to remove the ketchup stains. If you could let me have the cash today that would be much appreciated."
Secretary Jenny Amner replied: "With reference to the email, I must apologize for not getting back to you straight away but due to my mother's sudden illness, death and funeral I have had more pressing issues than your four pounds.
"Obviously your financial need as a senior associate is greater than mine as a mere secretary."
Colleagues had offered to hold a collection to cover the bill but Amner paid it herself.
The law firm was not impressed.
"I can confirm we are aware of the incident," a spokeswoman said. "This is a private matter between two members of staff that clearly got out of hand. We are investigating."
Newspapers also printed several e-mails sent to Phillips in response. One investment banker said he was deeply saddened to hear about the ketchup stain tragedy while another suggested he emigrate.
Folks, please keep in mind -- we're talking about a LAWYER..
What would you expect -- the milk of human kindness?
hmmmmmm, where have i heard these words before.... was it...? No, perhaps...?, No, that's not it either. Must have been someone rather forgettable.
No class. None. It's what- seven and change? I'm making a miniscule fraction of what this lawyer is right now, and I'd blow it off-- and make a joke of it, to boot.
I can't stand people who are petty like this. Worse, at a time like that. Unreal.
No, it's not blood, it's ketchup.
I can't stand people who are petty like this. Worse, at a time like that. Unreal.
Sounds like these people had too much time on their hands.
Duh, wear washable clothes to work.
You know, I'm not rich, but I'd suck it up and not go after the secretary for the money. This guy and 98 percent of all lawyers give the other 2 percent a bad name.
Maybe he only owns two pairs of pants. One to wear while the other is cleaned. Oh wait, if he only has enough money for two pairs, he's surely cleaning them himself. This guy is way to self-absorbed, but then again he is a lawyer.
He'd have been the same way if he were a doctor, an accountant, a scientist, or any other kind of professional. He thinks he's some sort of demi-god. There are a share of those in the law, to be sure, but not in any higher proportion than any other profession.
I remember it having to do with the story of a little guy -- I'm thinking Rumpelstiltskin.
When the maiden guessed his name, he said he was deeply saddened, and stamped on the floor so hard that he fell through and disappeared forever.
I believe it was something like that....
"Gervaise Brook-Hampster is in the Guards, and his father uses him as a wastepaper basket. "
The lawyer sounds like a tomato chaser.
"Das hat dir der Teufel gesagt, das hat dir der Teufel gesagt", schrie das Männlein und stiess mit dem rechten Fuss vor Zorn so tief in die Erde, dass es bis an den Leib hineinfuhr, dann packte es in seiner Wut den linken Fuss mit beiden Händen und riss sich selbst mitten entzwei.
"The Devil told you that! The Devil told you that!" screamed the manikin and stamped his right foot with rage so deep in the earth, that he went in up to his body, then in his passion took his left foot in both hands and tore himself in half right down the middle.
"He'd have been the same way if he were a doctor, an accountant, a scientist, or any other kind of professional. He thinks he's some sort of demi-god. There are a share of those in the law, to be sure, but not in any higher proportion than any other profession."
Wrong, years ago, when I was young, I worked for a variety of large law firms. Baker & McKenzie is a biggie. Many, not all, but I would say most, of the lawyers I worked with had giant ego's, were rude and arrogant, and demanding in a most unattractive way. I continued to work for them then because the pay was ok (they pay you to put up with these lawyers which isn't easy), plus I could get all the over-time in the world, as the law firms don't sleep at night.
One night I was there literally the whole night. Went back to the lawyer's home I was working for, for one hour's sleep and then both of us went back to the law firm (it was a big corporate case). Two day's later, having worked my derriere off on this case to help the lawyer I worked for, he proceeded to scream at me because in a document I typed up, I put an i where a t should have been. One typo. Believe me, there were many just like him, and the women lawyers weren't any better. (I will say that he brought me roses as an apology the day after he screamed at me, but I still couldn't believe he did it in the first place.)
Theae large law firms attract the "cream" of the crop from the law schools. So each of the little Poindexters come to the firms with their magna cum laude degrees, resumes with 10,000 extracurricular activities, and various lists of influential people touting their skills. It's a lot of who you know that helps them get the job. So, put all those "stars" from their respective campuses into one law firm, each one thinking how wonderful they are because they were big cheeses on their respective campuses grade-wise and in their school's law world, and you have a disaster in the making. The clash of ego's once in the firm was amazing to behold.
Even within the lawyers' ranks themselves, there was constant positioning going on, each of the younger lawyers trying to outdo the next, all with an eye to partnership which took about 6-7 years to get to. If you weren't perfect, your chances of getting the holy grail of partnership lessened. So, in turn, in seeking this perfection, if any of the support staff (secretaries, paralegals, clerks, copiers, etc.) screwed up at all, they would get it in the jugular as it would reflect on the junior lawyer's perfection. Once the lawyer achieved Partnerhood, many became even more arrogant and obnoxious, if that was possible. Then the Partners would vie for the corner offices with the speaker phones. Corner offices were the top status symbol. If you had one, you were the cream of the cream of the crop, or you played your office politics exceedingly well.
Mind you, I'm not saying all. There was the occasional good egg, and everyone was jealous of the lucky secretary who got to work for them. But the good egg was the exception, not the rule.
Now, saying that, I also worked for some lower down on the rung private lawyers, or for small firms, and there it was much more laid back and there was better attitude and reciprocation amongst all. But the big law firms are not a good place to work for unless you have a thick skin. I hung in there way past when I should have left because of the money, frankly. I will say, because of the perfectionism required in your end product, I learned a lot about writing, editing, proofing, doing research in the law library, tracking down information pertinent to a case, etc. I developed an investigative mindset. It stood me in good stead when I finally removed myself from having anything ever to do with law firms again (unless as a client which I hope will never happen). I went to work for a large University, worked my way up to a top administrative position in the system, and never looked back until I recently retired.
So, when reading this article about the spilled ketchup, I've been smiling and laughing with complete understanding as to what happened between the lawyer and the secretary. It is all too typical.
This idiot got what he deserved for being too much of a pussy to ask her in person his pathetic request. NEVER put anything in writing that you wouldn't want plastered upon the nearest billboard.
I guess lawyers are the same all over the world.
[Freepmail me to get on or off this Not-A-Ping-List.]
We're talking pansies here, and Brittain's supply overran demand several years ago.
Let's not get too sans-culottes here. You could find a jerk like this working as the assistant night-shift manager at your local Burger King.
If course, it gets ever more distasteful as the salary rises.
Your experience and analysis is 100% accurate. The smaller firms and solo practitioners are the only places where you may find decent folks who practice law. Every large firm is mostly filled with the despicable buttwipes that you experienced.
Well, I'd personally put real estate agents right up at the top of my most-disliked list, and many doctors, but your dissertation on big firms is right on target.
Many associates fail to realize that achieving their goal of making partner depends mostly on how other people perceive them, and how much business they can attract, rather than how they actually perform on a won-loss basis.
This guy clearly was out of touch with the most important factors for his advancement, and he'll serve as a lesson to others. But don't think for a minute that this sort of narcissistic behavior is more prevalent in law firm practice than other professions.
A few years ago I accidentally spilled wine on a guy's shirt. I apologized.
He later asked me to replace the shirt because the stain did not come out when the shirt was cleaned.
I immediately paid him and repeated my apology. He made more money than I did, but so what? I was the one responsible for ruining his shirt.
A much as lawyers for the most part are blood sucking socialists, this lawyer should have sucked the ketchup stain out with his mouth.
"Each according to his needs..." seems to be the motto of this thread.
Wasn't Bill Clinton a lawyer at one time?
I bet he regrets not offering to pay for the poor intern to have her blue dress dry cleaned at the time because if he had he might still be one.
In my experience in the corporate world in-house attorneys were (with one exception) okay people. My explanation is that the CEOs were usually not lawyers and the lawyers had to work with other powerful executives (including me) who were also not lawyers but were competent and smart.
Baker and McK had a nasty reputation.
Baker&McKensie, HQ'd in Chicago, is the world's biggest law firm.
Emigrate! I hope that doesn't mean to the US!
>"Each according to his needs..." seems to be the motto of this thread.
Exactly. Come the revolution...
thanks for not pinging me.