Q: I've been shadowing a barrister for the past few months and have now been offered a pupillage. The only thing is that my barrister has texted me, saying that he finds me irresistible and wants to kiss me. He's male and so am I, and I'm not gay. What shall I do?
A: What's surprising about this predicament is how, on reflection, it isn't really much of a predicament at all. Or rather, it isn't that difficult to know what you must do about it.
Suppose for a moment that this barrister wasn't male but female - and you got this message. Or that you were gay too - and you got this message. Looked at like this, it becomes obvious that the fact that he's gay is actually irrelevant. You'd be extremely unwise to start working for any senior person who'd texted you with such sentiments.
Not because it's shocking or because you disapprove, but because you'd be absolutely certain to find that conventional working relationships were impossible. I know it may be difficult for you to decline this offer of a pupillage - and I very much hope you can obtain another - but this is a crucial time in the development of your career and the last thing you need is a complication of this kind. However it turned out, it could severely damage your prospects.
One last thought. You must know your barrister well enough to decide whether he's the credible author of that text.
Or is it at all possible that it was the work of that irritating (and competitive) friend of yours who prides himself on his practical jokes? Do please be absolutely certain before you do anything.
- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office? is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.