Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tales From the Law (Volume 1)

Merriam-Webster defines a "Tale" as, among other things, "a story about imaginary events: an exciting or dramatic story."  Follows is a tale about the law.

Following a two-year clerkship for a judge in D.C., I began my career in the private sector working for one of the big law firms ("BigLaw").  There was a partner I knew at BigLaw who ran what I'd refer to as a "volume practice."  He had several large clients (all in the same field) that had hundreds of small matters each, most worth $100,000 to $200,000 or so.  The work was primarily what I would categorize as "administrative appellate work."  Mainly brief writing before a government agency.  The work was rather rote.  The briefs involved the same issues time and time again.  Often times, you could lift arguments wholesale from one brief to another, changing only client's/parties' names.  Partner had a junior partner and several associates that wrote the briefs.  Partner's job consisted primarily of (a) acknowledging each new matter/file with a letter to the client, explaining in brief detail the issues presented and the likely outcome; and (b) editing and revising the more complicated briefs.  The latter a more rare task given the relative lack of complexity of this particular area of the law.  Of course, every now and then, Partner would become involved in other issues for the clients, particular during periods of agency rulemaking, etc.  But, by and large, Partner's day-to-day existence involved writing short acknowledgment letters to the clients, and, occasionally, editing a brief.  Based on the nature of the volume practice, the hourly billing rates for Partner and his group were lower than the standard rates typically commanded by similarly situated BigLaw lawyers in D.C.  But, I'd estimate Partner's annual "book of business" was in the $3 million to $5 million range.*

By the time I had gotten to know Partner, he had clearly become overwhelmed with complacency.  While he got to work early -- 7:30 am -- and left late, I'm pretty sure this was simply to get out of the house and away from his wife.  Most of his day was spent wandering the corridors, reading the paper, playing video games on his computer and . . . . sleeping.  In fact, it was not unusual to hear loud snoring coming from his office by 11:30 am.  At times, his assistant would get up and shut his door so that his snoring would not bother other lawyers trying to work.  Partner's lack of work ethic was often joked about by associates at the firm.  I'm not sure what other partners thought, as they too clearly must have been aware of Partner's daily schedule of gaming and napping.   And here's the rub - Partner billed more than any one else in the office.  Generally in the neighborhood of 2400 a year (which, if you are unfamiliar, is a FUCK TON of billable hours).  It was an easy game.  Although Partner actually worked only 3 or so hours a day, he had hundreds of files at his disposal . . . a bounty of new cases entering the door every month.  Partner could easily touch 10 files a day, bill each a mere 1.2 hours, and bill 12 hours a day each day of the week.   And, given his reasonable hourly rate, clients would never complain.  Fraudulent?  You bet.  Provable?  Not likely.  The perfect scam.

Partner was old.  For a BigLaw lawyer, at least.  Mid-sixties, I'd guess.  He'd likely been making a seven-figure salary for decades.  I always wondered why he did not retire.  But, I guess if you can get paid millions of dollars for napping and playing video games, why not?

Of course, this is just a tale [yo]u see.  Someone could never get away with something like this in real life, of course . . .    

*This was not Partner's salary; rather the revenue generated for the firm.   



  1. when do we get to the part about hoes and doing blow off strippers tittays and sheeeeeeeeeit #theRestoftheStory

  2. Good appetizer but now we wait for the main course.

  3. I really liked what you rote for part one. Can't wait for part two uc!

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