Bring On That Client Contact
May 1, 2009 by Legal Tease
I’ll admit, this is probably a bad idea. But I’m sorry, I can’t help it any longer. I’ve had one in every other job I’ve ever had and it’s about time I had one at the firm. I’m not going to be particularly picky about it. I just want one—I need one. Because it occurred to me last week, sitting in my giant bed in the middle of the night, alone, watching an old Law & Order marathon, if I don’t get the juices flowing soon, I’m going to dry up, die of boredom, and go the way of every leading lady lawyer the Dick Wolf gang has ever offered up—which is to say nowhere at best and crumpled in the trunk of a car at worst. In other words, it’s time: I need a work crush. Stat.
One small issue, though: There’s no one to crush on at my firm—hell, within a mile of my firm, it seems. After you weed out the lawyers who aren’t indisputably trollish or creepy or latent pervs, only a handful of possibilities are left.
I guess there’s always Pete, my immediate supervisor and work buddy. He’s a great guy, cute in a sort-of asexual hipster way, and has good hair and a mellow, easy-going personality that’s a nice foil to my more manic vibe. But he’s happily married and just had a kid—very look but don’t touch, which kind of kills the point of having a crush. Part of the thrill is the possibility that something actually could happen, isn’t it? OK, forget Pete. The only other candidate, then, might be Alex, a newly minted partner who’s genuinely lawyer-hot, just dickish enough to make him that much hotter, and definitely single. Only problem is, he’s one of the most socially awkward lawyers in the building, notoriously avoids eye contact with women, and last I heard, lives in a two-story house with his parents.
So. That’s it: a married, asexual dad and a socially retarded powder keg who may or may not live with his mom. This is depressing even me. The upshot is becoming painfully clear: If I want a work crush, I need to move on to my clients.
Now, let’s have a reality check for a minute: It’s not like my client list is brimming with alluring, charming sexy young things—or sexy old things, for that matter. It’s mostly populated by bloated, irritable associate general counsels and your standard assortment of game-free i-bankers.
There is, however, Phil P. He’s a junior banker who I’ve spent about 900 hours with on the phone over the past few months slogging through a ridiculous, on-again-off-again nightmare of a deal. I’ve always been struck by how funny and charming and nice he seemed. I’ve also noticed lately that our conversations and emails have been getting more personal and decidedly more flirtatious—so much so that I actually wondered at one point if they were borderline inappropriate (and mind you, this is coming from a girl who once did this). Inappropriate or not, he definitely has all the makings of a perfect work crush—except I have no idea what he looks like. We’ve never met in person. And even Google Images has been no help. Basically, all I have to go on is his voice. Yes, I am that much of a loser: I have the functional equivalent of a crush on a radio ad.
Things started looking up, though, a few days ago when I got an out-of-the-blue email from Justin, a finance associate in my year at the firm: “Hey, Phil P____ says hi. (Old friend from b-school.) Going to drinks Thurs night, wanna join?”
It was a like a bomb went off in my stomach. I’ve been thinking about Phil for a few days now, bemoaning the fact that we’ll probably never meet, and then this literally falls into my lap? This can’t be just a coincidence, but…what else could it be? See, this sort of stuff doesn’t usually happen to me. I don’t have much luck with fate. I thought The Secret was a scam. But there it was: Drinks on Thursday. With the new crush.
Now, friends, I know the drill. This is the part of the story where, if history’s any guide, I’m supposed to sweep into the bar on Thursday night, all dolled up in my sexiest business casual, lock eyes with the unseen crush and see that he’s…morbidly obese. Or balancing a hooker on his lap. Or wearing flip-flops and carrying a box of porn. Right? Well, sorry to disappoint, but Phil P. was pretty damn perfect—just the right amount of dork mixed in with sparkly eyes, a quick smile, and the same crush-worthy personality from the phone. He was hard-core flirting, I was flirting back and the crush was in overdrive—so much so that I had to check myself. This couldn’t actually be real, right? I mean, a guy can’t possibly be this charming, this cute, this seemingly interested and not actually be secretly insane, or married, or some sort of dormant serial killer, can he?
As it turns out, no, he can’t.
After a couple of hours, a couple of drinks, and a couple of “accidental” hand-on-my-leg grazes, the inevitable happened: Phil’s BlackBerry pulled him back to the office around 10:30 p.m. (Love those i-bankers.) We headed out and he gave me a quick hug (!) and a wink goodbye and within minutes of getting home, my BlackBerry buzzed with an email from him thanking Justin and I for the drinks (which were courtesy of the firm; hell, he’s a client, right?) and suggesting we do it again soon. As I fell asleep, grinning, I wondered if tomorrow would be too soon.
And then, when I woke up, the unimaginable happened: There was a voicemail from Phil on my cell phone. Well, I guess it’s not unimaginable that a client would call me on my cell phone at 6:30 in the morning, but this was different. This was someone I actually wanted to hear from. The message was sweet and rambling and maddeningly vague: “Hey, I’m sorry it’s so early but—it’s Phil, by the way, sorry—but I just had something I wanted to ask you and I didn’t want to wait and I thought maybe you’d be up and…hey, why aren’t you at the office, right? Just kidding. That was so lame, sorry, it’s early. Um, well, I guess if you could give me a call when you get a chance today, that’d be great. OK, great finally meeting you last night, by the way, again. OK, bye. Oh! Sorry, and you can totally call my cell if you don’t get me in the office—it’s______. OK, bye. Talk to you later.”
Lying in bed, listening to the message over again a couple of times, I was speechless, beaming. This was a hundred times better than a crush; this was turning real. I headed to the office and waited a couple of hours to call Phil (don’t want to seem too eager, right?). He picked up right away and after we made small (flirty) (charming) talk for a few minutes, he dove right in.
“Hey, so, this is kind of awkward, but I just wanted to ask you something.”
Awww, he’s embarrassed. So adorable!
“If this is inappropriate, by the way, just tell me to shut up, OK? Seriously, just say ‘Phil, shut the F up,’ OK?”
Oh God, wait, is it wildly inappropriate to date the clients? Crap, I think I remember something about that on the MPRE. I guess I could talk to the billing partner about it…
“It’s just that you seem, um, really cool and well put together, and…”
What a sweetie! He noticed!
“…and I’m on my way to Grand Cayman right now, and…”
“…it’s just—oh man, this is really retarded. But, it’s my, um, fiancée’s birthday tomorrow and I totally forgot and she went, like, ape-shit insane, so I booked a last-minute trip for the weekend because she loves the beach there…”
“…and the hotel’s supposed to have this sick spa and I was wondering if you could suggest a few, you know, treatments for her, like to surprise her? My secretary’s not into any of that stuff, so I didn’t know who to ask. I know she likes facials, I think? Those are good, right?”
And so it went.
After about four more minutes of listening to my heart sink, I hung up the phone, wondered if it was possible to strangle yourself with a phone wire, and waited for the sound of history repeating itself—only to be interrupted by an email ding. From Phil. What the hell does he want now? Suggestions for a good gyno?
“Hey, thx again for the spa stuff, sounds awesome. She’ll love it!!! Forgot to mention, but I’ve asked Anand to send you an engagement letter to work your magic on for a quick advisory gig that got ginned up last night. Can you throw together a conf. agmt. for it, too? He’ll explain the deets. Sorry for the Friday dump, but I need it back by Sunday night, since I’ll be more tied up than I thought over the weekend, obvs Thx again, ur the best!!! Drinks soon!”
The Friday dump, indeed.
With that, I closed my door, mentally slapped myself, and steadied myself for a long night of hot-and-heavy drafting. And vowed that if I ever again have the brilliant idea to solve all of my Big Law woes by developing a crush at work, I’ll at least have the good sense to limit it to voices, cartoon characters, and maybe the occasional anonymous blogger. The kind that don’t have faces, don’t have fiancées, don’t have billing numbers. The kind that don’t keep you at the office late and let you get home early. So you can crawl into bed. Alone. Just in time for a Law & Order marathon.