فصل 02

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فصل 02

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  • زمان مطالعه 5 دقیقه
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CHAPTER TWO

Bendini, Lambert and Locke

Bendini had loved the firm’s office building; he had also loved secrecy. Before his death in 1970 he had filled the 100-year-old building with electronic surveillance equipment, as well as with every luxury money could buy. Only a few special members could enter certain parts of the building.

In twenty years Bendini built the richest law firm in Memphis. It was also definitely the quietest. Every associate hired by the firm was taught the evils of a loose tongue. Everything was secret - especially clients’ business. Young associates were warned that talking about the firm’s business outside the firm could delay the prize of a partnership. Nothing left the building on Front Street. Wives were told not to ask questions - or were lied to. The associates were expected to work hard, keep quiet and spend their healthy incomes.

Lamar Quin met Mitch at the entrance to the building. After an embarrassing speech by Oliver Lambert in front of all the other associates in the second-floor library, Lamar took him on a tour of the office. There were excellent libraries on the first four floors of the five-floor building, so that no member needed to leave the office to find out anything.

The first four floors were almost the same. The centre of each floor was filled with secretaries, their desks and the necessary machines. On one side of the open area was the library and on the other were offices and smaller conference-rooms. Partners got the large corner offices, with wonderful views over the river and the city.

‘You won’t see any pretty secretaries,’ Lamar said softly as they watched them work. ‘These are the best legal secretaries in Memphis, but they also have to be over a certain age. The firm likes its members to have steady marriages. Babies are encouraged. Of course wives are not forbidden to work.’

‘I hope not,’ said Mitch, puzzled by the word ‘forbidden’. He decided to change the subject. ‘Does every lawyer get his own secretary?’

‘Yes, until you’re a partner. Then you’ll get another, and by then you’ll need one. Nathan Locke has three, all with twenty years’ experience, and he keeps them busy. You’ll find that the work takes at least eighty hours a week at first. And there’s always more if you want it. Everyone works a hundred hours a week during tax season. We get well paid, all right, but we earn it, believe me.’

‘What about holidays?’

‘Two weeks a year for the first five years. I know that doesn’t sound like very much, but the firm does own a couple of beach houses in the Cayman Islands, and you can usually get one for your holiday - as long as a partner doesn’t want it, of course. We do a lot of business in the Caymans, as well, because the islands are tax-free. Nathan Locke’s there at the moment, in fact, which is why you can’t meet him today.’

Mitch had lunch with the partners in their special dining-room on the fifth floor. Again the generous public praise was embarrassing, but pleasing. Mitch wanted a beer to help him feel comfortable, but looking round he saw that no one had any alcohol, and he learned that drinking at lunch-time was not liked by the firm. Nor was heavy drinking at any time. They wanted members they could rely on. That was all right with Mitch. He was determined to succeed.

By the time Mitch left the building in the evening, after a meeting with Royce McKnight to discuss further details of his contract, he had decided: there could be no better offer in the whole country.

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