Michael Winthrop, senior partner of prestigious law firm Winthrop, Michener, and Hoot, sat behind his large polished wood desk watching the newest lawyer to the firm squirm. He felt that starting lawyers should be given either a soft case that was difficult to mess up or a hard case that was impossible to win. For young lawyers with lots of promise he felt that the latter option was the best way to test their character.
Jared Wilmot, normally quite confident, was feeling particularly nervous about this meeting. He had been with the law firm for several months without being assigned a case. This was unusual for a recent graduate of that most prestigious of institutions, Harvard Law School. He had graduated at the top of his class and had expected to be thrown into the legal arena very quickly. Waiting months for a real assignment was not a good sign for a great career. It made him wonder if he had done something to anger one of the partners and now he had been called into the office of one of the senior partners.
Michael cleared his throat before he said, "Jared, I've been waiting for the right kind of case to give you. One of our clients dropped a big one on us and I'm assigning it to you."
"Excellent," Jared replied.
"You won't think so by the time you're done with this assignment," Michael said. He stared at the manila folder on the desk that contained his notes on the initial consultation with the client. It was bad; real bad.
"I'll win it," Jared said confidently.
"No you won't," Michael said. He opened the manila folder and said, "Your client is Mr. Benedict Flanders. He owns a prosthetics company that is worth about a hundred million dollars. I'll be satisfied if you get him out of this situation with a million dollars left in his name."
"You're kidding," Jared said. It was his opinion that someone worth that much money was basically untouchable.
Michael said, "It is actually two cases. The first case is a divorce that was filed on the grounds of adultery. Our client was filmed in the act — not once but dozens of times. I shouldn't say that he was filmed in the act. The idiot made video tapes of his indiscretions."
"That's bad," Jared said.
"The second case has been brought by ten of his so-called lovers. The idiot told them to put out or get out with the latter option accompanied by a work recommendation that would assure they would never get a job in the prosthetics industry. The private detective has video and audio recordings of him actually saying it."
"I'm sure that we can discredit the plaintiffs. Everyone has a skeleton or two in their closet," Jared said. His father had often told him that winning was everything and not everything was as clear cut as the evidence might suggest.
"If you try that you'll end up chasing ambulances for the rest of your life," Michael said.
"Why do you say that?" Jared asked.
"You'll be going up against K. Anders. I don't know anything about him, but he's an Anders and will bury you if you try to discredit the plaintiffs," Michael said.
"In the entire history of this firm, we've never won a case against any lawyer in the Anders family. The best that we've done is to negotiate to a tie. Based on what I see here, we won't win this one," Michael said.
"I was first in my class at Harvard Law School," Jared said. He was also a third generation lawyer and felt that it gave him an advantage. When in doubt, he could talk to his father or grandfather. With their years of experience they would point him in the proper direction.
"So was I and I've never beaten an Anders in court," Michael said in disgust.
"Ah," Jared said.
Michael said, "Don't let this case get to court."
Jared sat at his desk waiting to be told of the arrival of K. Anders. He had discussed the fact that he was going up against an Anders with his father. The reaction of his father was almost identical to that of Michael. His advice had been to spend every waking hour preparing the case and expect to lose anyway. His grandfather's advice was even more succinct; give the case to someone else.
He was idly staring out the door when the receptionist walked past looking over her shoulder. A young boy wearing a Brook's Brothers suit walked past carrying an Armani briefcase. Jared said, "What the hell?"
The boy was followed by an exceptionally attractive woman wearing a woman's suit and carrying a briefcase. Jared snorted and said, "This is absurd. Their lawyer is ten years old. The little tyke even brought his mommy along in case I make him cry."
A couple of minutes later, the receptionist knocked on the door. She smiled at Jared and said, "Your ten o'clock is here. I put them in the conference room."
"Thank you," Jared said while rising from his chair. He collected his notes and headed out the door.
Jared entered the room and got his first good view of the woman who had accompanied the kid. He was struck by her beauty. She had dark brown hair; almost the color of dark chocolate. Her lips were thick and sensuous. Her body was lush and full. He thought to himself, "Be still my beating heart, I've got a little kid to crush and she's not going to like it."
The woman stood when Jared entered the room. She held out a hand and said, "I'm Karen Anders. You must be Jared Wilmot."
It suddenly dawned on him that K. Anders was not a male. Taking her hand in his, Jared said, "It is a pleasure to meet you. May I enquire as to the identity of the young man with you?"
"This young man is my cousin Timmy Anders. I'm supervising him today since his parents are busy negotiating a union contract," Karen answered.
Jared looked at the boy and said, "Is that a fancy way of saying that you are babysitting him?"
"Yes. His parents would have taken him with them but they felt that all of the cigar smoke would stunt his growth. You know how union contract negotiations are," Karen answered. She looked at her hand and added, "You can let go of my hand now."
"Sorry," Jared said releasing her hand. She had soft hands that felt right in his. He looked at Timmy and said, "I'm not sure that having a child in the room is a good idea. Young children get bored and become disruptive."
Timmy tapped the table with a finger and looked at Karen. He asked, "May I?"
She answered, "Yes."
"According to the supervisory contract that exists between Ms. Anders and me, there are financial repercussions in the event that I misbehave. According to section 1.1.1 of said contract, I am to be given a warning if my behavior becomes out of line as dictated in sections 184.108.40.206 through 220.127.116.11. If I continue to misbehave after the warning, then I become financially liable to the extent of two weeks income for the first infraction with increases in financial liability for subsequent infractions according to the terms set forth in section 1.1.2," Timmy said.
"You have a contract with your babysitter?" Jared asked staring at Timmy as if he was from another planet.
"Of course I do. It is a standard supervisory contract used by everyone in the Anders family. I am confident that you are well aware of the reasons for having a contract in which the interests of both parties are clearly articulated along with penalties for breaches of the terms of the contract," Timmy said.
"Yes, I am," Jared answered. He wondered what kind of family created contracts with children. "So if you become a nuisance, you lose your allowance for two weeks. What is that - five dollars?"
"My allowance is two dollars a week. My income is closer to twenty dollars a week," Timmy answered. He added, "I have investments."
"I'm sure you do," Jared said staring at the boy.
Opening his briefcase, Timmy asked, "Would you like to read the contract to assure that the limits placed on my behavior are within boundaries acceptable to you?"
"That won't be necessary," Jared said. "How old are you?"
Karen said, "If that little bit of business is concluded, let us get to work."
"Have a seat," Jared said while gesturing in the direction of the chair. He walked around the table and waited for Karen to sit. Once she had taken her seat, he sat down and opened his manila folder with notes.
"I'd like to deal with the divorce first," Karen said.
"We are contesting the grounds for the divorce," Jared said. He glanced over at Timmy and noticed that the young man was taking copious notes.
"It is an open and shut case. Your client clearly engaged in adultery," Karen said.
"We are countersuing for a divorce based on mental cruelty. It was the actions of your client that drove our client to those actions," Jared said. He passed a sheet of paper over to Karen.
Karen read the sheet of paper for a minute. Frowning, she said, "I doubt these charges would hold up in court."
"We will just have to see about that," Jared replied.
Karen said, "My client is willing to settle for a no fault divorce with equal distribution of assets."
"I will have to see if my client is amenable to that although I would recommend that he not accept that deal at the current time," Jared said with a smile.
"You would recommend that your client allow this to go to court and have the video evidence of his indiscretions made public?" Karen asked incredulous at the suggestion.
"Yes," Jared answered.
Jared looked over at Timmy and noticed that the boy was watching him like an eagle. He turned back to Karen and smiled. He answered, "My client owns those videos since he was the one who made them. You are going to have to petition that my client turn those videos over to the court. Once they become a matter of public record my client can sell them on the internet and recover any money lost in the divorce."
"I would personally bring a lawsuit against you on behalf of the women in those videos," Karen said.
"I would argue that it would be your client who violated their rights by bringing those videos into the public record," Jared said.
"You would lose."
"We would let the courts decide that," Jared said.
"Those women already have sexual harassment suits against your client. I'll make it a condition of the settlement that your client turn over all copies of those videos," Karen said.
"In order to prevent release of those videos, you'll have to settle the harassment suits before the divorce comes to court," Jared said with a smile. It was important that the suits be resolved in the proper order.
"We'd press criminal blackmail and coercion charges," Karen said upping the stakes. She really hadn't expected this approach and was scrambling to recover.
"You could do that, but you would probably not be successful. The videos would still become public record, although my client wouldn't be able to make any money off of them. My client would fight it and in the process all of the details of the case would become public. The newspapers would probably have a field day with it. The net value of his company would drop to zero. My client would end up in jail, his ex-wife would end up with a worthless company, and the ten women suing him would get nothing out of the deal. Everyone loses," Jared said.
"You're a tricky bastard," Karen said sitting back in her chair. She had to respect his maneuvering on behalf of his client. Her plan had been to get the divorce settled first with him losing half of his assets. That would be followed by settling the law suits to get the remainder of his money.
"He's good," Timmy said under his breath.
"Thank you," Jared said. He knew that he had managed to avoid the major pitfalls the various lawsuits represented. He slid a sheet of paper across the table and said, "Here is what I propose."
Karen glanced over the terms offered. They actually represented the best deal for everyone involved. Impressed, she said, "I'll have to discuss this with my clients."
"I thought you would," Jared said.
Karen asked, "Would you really have advised your client to sell the videos on the internet?"
"I would have given my client the best legal advice possible," Jared answered without giving a concrete answer. "There's case law arguing both sides of the matter. I refer to the famous case of Phule vs. Nutters."
"I would counter with Jerkins vs. Perkins. That argues against your case," Karen said.
"That's true, but the courts are a little more liberal now," Jared replied.
"You would probably lose the case in front of a jury, but you might have won it in appeal. Although that would depend upon the judge," Karen said. "Are you sure your client would have been willing to risk that?
"Even if I lost in appeal, it would be a great case to argue in the Supreme Court," Jared said.
"That's true," Karen said. She felt herself get hot at the idea of arguing a case in front of the Supreme Court.
Letting his eyes travel over her body, Jared said, "I bet you and I could stretch these cases out to ten years."
"At least," Karen said with a smile. She licked her lips seductively.
Timmy tapped the table with his fingernail. Karen looked over at him and said, "What?"
"I'd like to point out section 2.3.1 of the supervisory contract. You are on the verge of violating it by engaging in meaningless small talk after business has been concluded," Timmy said.
Karen said, "We are entering an area of negotiations covered by section 2.3.2 of the contract."
"Ah! If I am willing to stay here you must pay a penalty as specified in section 18.104.22.168," Timmy said.
"I know that," Karen said.
Timmy said. "He meets with my approval. You owe me an ice cream sundae."
"Agreed," Karen said.
Timmy said, "Continue. I will try to identify a suitable representative for him in the upcoming negotiations."
"What negotiations?" Jared asked puzzled by the exchange.
Karen ignored the question. Instead of answering, she asked, "Are you a Republican or a Democrat?"
"Democrat," Jared answered.
"So am I," Karen said.
"I'm a Republican," Timmy said. Seeing the look that Jared gave him, he added, "I have investments."
Jared and Karen made small talk for a half an hour. Timmy checked his wrist watch periodically. At the top of the hour, he tapped on the table with his finger and said, "I hate to interrupt, but we have an appointment at Benedict and Geraldine's for an ice cream sundae."
Karen checked her watch and said, "You're right."
"I know," Timmy said closing his briefcase.
Karen gathered her material and said, "I'll be in touch with you later in the week with my clients' reply to your offer."
"I look forward to it," Jared said.
Timmy asked, "Cousin Karen, are you willing to pursue a merger?"
"Yes," Karen answered after looking over at Jared.
"May I have the honor of representing you in the upcoming negotiations?" Timmy asked.
"Yes," Karen answered with a smile.
"I suggest that we have cousin Mercedes represent the other party," Timmy said looking over at Jared.
"I would like to see you and Cousin Mercedes negotiate a merger. That ought to be interesting," Karen said.
Timmy said, "Cousin Mercedes will enjoy the chance to learn from the best."
"I'm sure she would say the same about you," Karen said.
Michael Winthrop looked over the proposed agreement. Impressed, he said, "If you manage to pull this off, it will be a real coup. I think this is the best deal we've ever gotten against an Anders."
"I got the impression that Karen Anders would support it to her clients," Jared said.
"K. Anders is a woman?" Michael asked.
"Yes. She's a very attractive woman," Jared said.
Michael looked thoughtful for a moment. He asked, "She didn't mention anything about a merger, did she?"
"Yes," Jared answered.
"You poor bastard."