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You love some. You hate most.

Given that you will spend most of your adult life working for them, the associate life unfortunately is such that you cannot ignore them.


Having worked for a wide variety, I’ve put together some (stereo)typical boss profiles below along with unwanted words of wisdom to my fellow associates.

In no particular order, Nandii Reywal presents to you the following categories:

The Hulk

Usually male and pretty old school, this guy is perpetually annoyed. It could be that his morning coffee wasn’t black enough or that his mother-in-law was visiting (again) that week. The universe is constantly conspiring against this gentleman and what better way to vent than at his unfortunate underlings.

Files are thrown, tables are thumped, fingers are wagged and your job is threatened on a daily basis. A good piece of work receives a grunt of grudging approval. Mistakes are greeted with a tongue-lashing from hell. Retaining control of your bladder when he hollers at you across the corridor is generally regarded as a pretty commendable feat.

Nandii’s words of wisdom: Generally only gets along with other alpha males so stay well clear of the Hulk if you’re neither alpha (unless you enjoy having your manhood ridiculed) nor male (unless you are able to pass off what most right-thinking members of society would term sexual harassment as ‘banter’). If working with this man is absolutely necessary, ensure that you are in possession of full body armour and well supplied with horse tranquiliser darts.


Public enemy number one and every associate’s worst nightmare, this arch-villain is sly and devious. Strongly believes that he/she is cleverer than 99.9% of humanity and is out to prove it by climbing the corporate ladder quicker than anyone else. The remaining 0.1% is comprised of clients and superiors, whom Two-Face treats like royalty. Superiors melt when Two-Face under-promises and over-delivers. Clients walk away from meetings with Two-Face with spotless back-sides.

It might surprise you to know that Two-Face doesn’t bother reading or writing anything. Rumour has it that he/she hasn’t seen the inside of legal document since early 1992. The secret to Two-Face’s successful modus operandi is continuously reminding us associates-slaves that our work is not up to scratch and that we are therefore stupid. This, however, does not prevent Two-Face from taking full credit for an associate’s work when it’s good. Naturally, he/she remembers to place the blame squarely on the associate when a deal goes belly-up. Cest la vie.

Unlike the open threats that the Hulk (above) delivers, Two-Face’s weapons of choice are more subtle hints about bad ratings and falling bonuses. Those, however, bite more than the Hulk’s bark and Two-Face produces remarkable results that I’m reliably informed will propel him/her to managing partnership soon enough.

Nandii’s words of wisdom: Even the plague avoids Two-Face so hold your nose and run as fast as you can. But if you do find yourself working for this excuse for a human being, do not send him/her an abusive email when horribly drunk. For further details, please see - http://www.legallyindia.com/Blogs/Entry/how-nandii-reywal-got-drunk-got-wild-and-got-laid-off

The Early Bird/Night Owl (the “EBNO”)

To be clear, the EBNO isn’t a bad person per se. He/she isn’t aggressive like the abusive Hulk or rotten to the core like the charming Two-Face. And therein lies the problem.

To make up for this lack of distinction, the EBNO has devised a plan of progressing through the system - a plan which relies on the sheer weight of billable hours. The EBNO sees a normal day as a 24 hour window of billable opportunity. The result is a body-clock that completely ignores irrelevant things like “business hours”.

The EBNO is the uncompromising, unnervingly diligent machine that feels no pain and allows no room for error. No matter how much work the associate puts in, there is always some more to be done.

Being late is possibly the most grievous sin for the EBNO. Unfortunately, Nandii likes strolling into the office at a leisurely pace (circa 10.30 am) and leaving in a flash (circa 5.45 pm, delaying departure by 15 minutes only because leaving before the secretaries isn’t the done thing). Naturally, a boss who schedules conference calls at 6 am puts a bit of a spanner in the works (I’m not what you would call a morning person and own a notoriously “faulty” alarm clock).

And as if that travesty isn’t enough, this eager beaver often ends up working late into the night as well. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to the occasional late night or two but I’d like to draw a line somewhere. Last heard, I was to finish drafting a document by 4am with a follow-up call on that document scheduled for 6.30am the same morning. Sheesh.
The EBNO doesn’t insult or threaten like the others. Instead, the EBNO only expresses his disappointment with your work and looks like his/her world has collapsed around him. To avoid being at the receiving end of this look, the associate digs in for the night and bills like a fiend. Emotional blackmail of a sort but it works.

Nandii’s words of wisdom: The EBNO believes that since he/she is in the office with you, you can have no complaints. To tell the truth, he is right. You really can’t whine if someone at least fifteen years older than you is putting in the same hours. So, while you work with the EBNO, keep a toothbrush in the office, buy a new alarm clock and learn to love the taste of those bitter double-expresso shots. Ughhh….

Forrest Gump

Although this kind of boss is a dying breed, over the course of your career you will definitely end up working with at least one Forrest Gump. Gump is often brighter than the Hulk, Two-Face and the EBNO put together. The problem, however, is more in the social sphere.

Gump may stammer and remain aloof at meetings or client events. He/she might make millions of pounds a year but dress for the office like they would for a Slumdog -2 audition . Gump may unravel an impossible issue in seconds but finds it difficult to get a word out of his/her mouths at a presentation. Gump may be capable of reciting every clause of a sale and purchase agreement from memory but is terrified of using a computer. As a boss, Gump is sometimes hyper, extremely disorganised, usually flustered and overall gives off the impression of a mad scientist on speed. In short, Forrest’s genius is rendered rather ineffective in a law firm environment.

This puts the associate working for Gump in a pickle. With nutty professor Gump almost always out of action and no supervision, the associate has to take care of absolutely everything on the deal. The result is either an express promotion through the ranks or an equally rapid firing.

Gump doesn’t mind either way - he/she has either long forgotten the asssociate's name or didn’t know it in the first place.

Nandii’s words of wisdom: Baby-sit Gump. Close the deal. Track down and burn every single copy of the transaction bible.

The Boss-Pal

Rarer than even Gump, the Boss-Pals are your back-slapping, ciggy-sharing chums who slip you gossip about your other bosses (as long as keep your opinions to yourself and remember that the Boss-Pal is a respected senior member of the firm who will hear no nonsense about his colleagues). The Boss-Pal will stand up for you when you have messed up and will talk you up to clients and senior management. They don’t set unreasonable deadlines and seem to lead a real life outside of work. They even remember your birthday.

There’s still a catch though. While working on the Boss-Pal’s deals, you don’t actually mind spending all your waking hours in the office– it’s so much fun just being buddies with them.  The associate, as a result, actually drives himself/herself into the ground without the Boss-Pal asking, just so that the camaraderie can be maintained.

If reverse psychology was a science, the Boss-Pal would be Einstein.

Nandii’s words of wisdom: Forget the difference in age. Marry your boss. Relax.

Most law firm bosses should fall neatly into the categories I’ve described above (or a combination thereof) but please do let me know in your comments if I’ve missed out you or someone you’ve worked for.

Until next time,
Nandii Reywal.

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