Solicitors Journal

Ready For Your Close Up?

What better way to spend the bonus bank holiday than spring cleaning? I don’t mean polishing the dining table, or even sorting out the bottom drawer of the office filing cabinet though. No, what I mean is a virtual spring clean.

As soon as the unfeasibly good weather fades, I’ll be turning my eye to my online presence. Just like that kitchen drawer at home where you store all those receipts, takeaway menus and the potpourri from Aunty Gwen that you kindly accepted three years ago, your computer and your social media profile can become cluttered and unmanageable. Worse still, there may be some unwanted gifts lurking somewhere that you don’t want to share with the wider world.

If you think an exercise such as this is unnecessary, I’ll give you a timely example by way of caution. A certain James Middleton was introduced to the world’s media during the course of the royal wedding celebrations. As the brother of our latest fairytale princess, he was selected to provide the reading during the ceremony. Not without its own controversy, the reading was taken from the New Revised Standard version of the Bible, as used by Westminster Abbey, and not the King James version as championed by the patron of the King James Bible Trust, Prince Charles.

Outrage and a tiff with the new in-laws averted, it was generally agreed that, under pressure, entrepreneur and cake maker James performed well. However, as a result of his new-found celebrity, several better forgotten ghosts of the past have come back to haunt him. As The Daily Telegraph put it: “There have been other alarming incidents, not least pictures on the internet of James partying in one of his sister’s dresses. Another shows James apparently naked, but for a strategically placed bottle of beer. A third shows him dressed in a French maid’s uniform and stockings, grasping his crotch.

“Last month, he put a risqué photograph on his Facebook page showing four men, backs to the camera, with their trousers around their ankles and bottoms on show standing on a country road called Back Lane.” Indeed.

Safety net

Maybe the standards won’t be quite as high as those of a potential royal, or the Daily Mail, but in the computer age it is almost a given that potential employers, colleagues and clients will do some homework. The question is, what will they find?

By far, the simplest and quickest method is Google. Call it a vanity project if you like, but take some time out to Google yourself at the very least. You might be surprised by what you find. Depending on how confident you are, you may also want to try Solicitors from Hell, but that might be one step too far – after all, no one likes a bad review.

Regardless of how much checking, censoring and covering up you do, presentation and personality remain important. If you have any concerns about how to dress, Allen & Overy recently listed a dummy’s guide to office wear for its current and prospective trainees – including another potential royal-in-the-making, Chelsy Davy, who starts a training contract with the firm in September.

The email, sent from the trainee liaison committee, read as follows: “HR has received numerous complaints about the way female trainees have been dressing around the office. The main problem seems to be very short skirts and high heels and generally looking like we’re going clubbing instead of to the office.”

Just as well James Middleton didn’t pursue a legal career then, given his penchant for dressing in stockings and heels. But a word of advice, Chelsy, one of Philip Treacy’s more eccentric millinery creations might be too much for the partners on your first day – and please avoid asking Princess Beatrice for fashion advice.

This article was first published by Solicitors Journal on 9 May 2011, and is reproduced by kind permission

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