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First I Teach You How To Talk- The Paranoid Paralegal

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“Okay, are you all ready?” asked the partner.

“Yes Sir,” chimed the entire team.

A grin was plastered on everyone present in the room. Everyone, but the new fish.

“It’s your first call, young one. Let’s see how you do,” the partner said. His smirk blinded everyone for a second. He must show how happy he is, after all, he had been to the dentist yesterday.

In the calm before the storm, the only sound to be heard was the young boy gulping.

It’s the new ones who falter, the partner thought, let me help him.

“Just remember what I have taught you,” he said nodding his head, more to assure himself that he has taught well.

The young boy recounted the lesson.

At the firm, two things should always be polished, shoes and accents. When you walk around, it’s the shine of the leather which catches attention first, then comes the letter from your mouth, and if you give them the chance to get close, the fragrance of your lather. When you become a senior, you could show your teeth, but that was left for a different day.

Sadly, the boy only had the right leather and lather.

“So here we go,” the partner said, “the first time I’m sending you in. Do me good.” His hands moved swiftly while dialling, as if holding an invisible fork and knife. This habit started after a lesson his senior had taught him: be precise, and dissect everything.

9,8,4…. The numbers registering themselves with the thud of a hammer, but delivered with a surgeon’s precision.

Beep. Beep.

“Welcome to Infinity Calls Service, please tell your name and designat…”

Before the introduction got over, the young one blurted, “Amit, I’m an advocate from…”

There was a sudden commotion in the room. In front of him, all he saw was four palms shaking, fraught with anxiety. Two people rose from their chairs, mouths open wide, but no words escaped from their mental prisons. One went for phone, the other for the boy’s mouth. Ultimately, both were shut with force.

“What did I tell you, young man?” the partner barked, and turned his gaze to the senior associate sitting next to him. His loyal colleague nodded in appreciation. Sometimes in moments of distress, the nod of the senior associate helped the partner stay on track. I ought to continue, he thought to himself, else these new associates would never learn.

“You asked me to state my name. And that’s what I was…” the boy retorted; finding his feet but slowly losing it mid-sentence.

“STATE your name!” the partner replied, “Did I ask you to just throw it away, like flinging a visiting card at someone’s face instead of handing it out to them with both your hands? Especially when the card isn’t even laminated?” The partner looked around, trying to find inspiration. He remembered his dinner yesterday.

“You have to say your name like it’s the most expensive caviar being delivered in a golden plate, surrounded by the Queen’s Guard,” he continued, “You don’t just go around flailing your name. Your hands anyway do that for you,” he said, calmly bringing his hands together. At least I must exude composure, he thought.

The boy’s eyes looked down in shame. But the blinding shine of the two pairs in front of him didn’t throw any light. He remembered all those lessons, but it just wouldn’t come out. “But I can’t do it.” He said, his voice choking, “it’s not me.”

The partner’s mind again went running. This boy needs more training. I need to show it to him.

He sat upright in his chair. “See accents are something which you feel. None of us here know it well. Ask this SA,” as he turned to the senior associate in the room.

It was a call to arms for the SA, and she answered it by vigorously shaking her head. She understood the young one’s pain, but he would need to learn himself.

“If you find it difficult,” the partner gave his final pearl, “just speak from your nose. That’s how even I started.”

“But,” he cautioned, “If there’s one thing the client can’t know…” The partner looked towards the SA.

Both turned to the boy and hissed, “They can’t know you’re normal.”

The Paranoid Paralegal is a fiction series, to add some satire and humour to the legal life. The name reflects someone who has been there lurking in the background, observing things. They ensure that things are running, but are often invisible. The author wants to maintain their anonymity.

If you wish to write for us, or share a story, get in touch at umang.poddar@lawctopus.com

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