Day 3 in the novel-in-a-month effort (a la www.nanowrimo.org)

Chapter 2: Memos From Management

There is hereby established in the House of Representatives an office to be known as the Office of the Parliamentarian, hereinafter in this chapter referred to as the “Office.”

—Title 2, The Congress, Office of Parliamentarian of House of Representatives

TO: Attorneys and Staff of The Firm

FROM: Claude Dedrick, Managing Partner

DATE: May 26

SUBJECT: A Great Launch

I wanted to extend congratulations to everyone who works at Dedrick, Duckworth, Castro & Paine (hereinafter, “the Dedrick law firm”). Yesterday was our “opening day,” and I think I speak for all my partners when I say it was “a smashing success.” Truly boffo, all.

Our offices never looked better (ha ha) than they did yesterday, and that is the result of the hard work of many, many people. Because I could not possibly take the time to thank them all, I’ll just point out that I was here in the office for months before the launch, viewing swatches, choosing the shade of marble for our receptionist’s desk, and reviewing the appropriate task lighting to illuminate the desks of partners (Tuscan Illumiglow 4000’s), associates (Dexter House Sunshine 1500’s), and support staff (Maglite Indestructo 15’s). (And as I indicated yesterday, IT and janitorial staff are welcome to bring a light from home.)

Some might call these efforts Herculean, or remarkable, or even noteworthy, but I do not. Instead, I think it merely reflects on a great team that pulls together, not for recognition or (additional) remuneration, but for a quality result. The Dedrick law firm is just such a team, where all are equal (though, due to certain tax and other considerations beyond the scope of this memorandum, certain members of the equal team will receive substantial additional benefits and considerations, all with an eye to the goal of fostering an environment of equality).

I believe that the accolades we received yesterday from our fellow members of the bench and bar are a testament to the esteem in which we are held. A cursory examination of the number and size of the floral arrangements that were received in our office yesterday (and that continue to arrive) tells a tale worth repeating:

  • Eighty-two (82) per cent of the arrangements were at least 32 inches in height.
  • Sixty-three (63) per cent of the arrangements were housed in crystal of foreign manufacture (and I exclude from that analysis crystal from China or any other low-wage-paying country from the Orient).
  • Fifty-two (52) per cent included in its collection at least one expensive tropical stalk.
  • Only twelve (12) per cent included, as the bulk of its offering, chrysanthemums or daisies of the less-expensive variety.
  • Only two (2) arrangements masked their dearth of expensive stalks with a mass of “baby’s breath” (which, let us all admit right now, masks nothing and fools no one).

Research and analysis truly are the hallmarks of the modern full-service law firm, so I asked my paralegal Nancy [get her last name, Mary, and put it in the final memo] to look into the background of the firms who were kind-hearted enough to send us the arrangements. I was relieved but not altogether surprised (as I’m sure you will be) that the gifts bearing the least impressive “footprints” came to us from certain small firms or solo practitioners. Big Law sends Big Gifts, I suppose you could say! Of course, all gifts are welcome, be they from friends and colleagues with whom we may eventually want to collaborate, or from those who will make their mark in the realm of public-interest advocacy. Our hearts well up!

Of course, none of us (you) should rest on the laurels of yesterday, which, let us all admit right now, was a day virtually devoid of work and that appeared to be dedicated entirely to frivolity and (am I correct that I heard?) rock music. Yes, it is time to turn our attention to the work at hand. I understand from various publications that law practice can be “fulfilling” or “somewhat fulfilling,” but the Dedrick law firm does not follow whatever is “trendy” or “popular” or “successful.” We forge our own path led by your partner-leaders.

Even on the grandest of days (and yes, yesterday was grand), we (you) can all learn from past experience and even mistakes:

  • It appears that an arrangement arrived that was edible. I understand that it was eaten (OK, devoured) by a single non-lawyer person, who never thought for a moment to ask if a partner or even the managing partner might enjoy taking the succulent variety of melons into his own office to eat in private. All right, so mistakes were made! No harm, no foul! In the future, all gifts that are edible will be directed as follows: Meats/cheeses (excluding chopped and reconstituted sauasage-shaped products) shall be sent immediately to the managing partner, as will bottled alcoholic beverages or anything in a commemorative tin. Nuts (excluding cashews and macadamia nuts) and dried fruit may be enjoyed by associate attorneys or litigation paralegals. Popcorn or other snacks (excluding caramel corn, Fiddle Faddle, or anything labeled “Gourmet Popcorn,” which will be sent to the partners) may be eaten by other staff. IT and janitorial staff are free to bring snacks from home.
  • A charming “joie de vivre” appeared to grip our merry troupe yesterday, caught up as we were in the joy of new beginnings. That elan was visible in partners’ offices, where non-lawyer staff were seen “looking at partners’ pictures,” “reading the spines of partners’ books,” and even “sitting in partners’ chairs. A healthy intermingling can be glorious, but in the future, nonlawyer staff should enter lawyers’ offices only when they have been summoned or when they are being terminated. And in the parking lot, a libertine disregard for reserved spaces was on display. Viva la difference! But in the future, we tow.
  • Another note on cars: If your vehicle is more than four years old, or if it has any after-market additions that could be construed as what the kids call “bling,” or if it has any “bumper stickers” or a “Baby on Board” sign, we recommend that you take public transportation. Thank you for doing your part to fight those dreadful greenhouse gases!
  • Finally, you may have seen that there was a dog in the office yesterday. That is a unique case, in that the dog has special needs, and that the owner is a partner. Please do not construe the firm’s largesse toward this special dog (with disabilities!) to mean that we welcome any of your own pets, or children, in the office. We are a family-friendly firm, and are pleased that you all, to a person, have a family, somewhere. Home is where the heart—and the family—is.

I hope you have found this memorandum to be a useful and informative method of learning what is happening—and what is valued—here at the Dedrick law firm. As managing partner, I find the memorandum to be an especially direct method of conveying information, and I expect to use them extensively in the future. In fact, though I value your input and all of the casual “interactions” that occur in law offices, I discourage any of you from speaking directly to me; the memos should serve us well. (Exceptions might include: If you have fallen and broken your leg, and you would like me to summon the office manager to help you up or call emergency personnel; or if you have obtained coffee or dry-cleaned clothes to deliver to me, and you need to know where to set them. In either of those cases, brief verbal interactions would be appropriate.)

As involved and interested members of our team, I’m sure you will want to read these memos and extract their lessons. However, because the memos may be lengthy, I will expect that you will not spend valuable time here at the firm reading them. Instead, you will print them and read them after you have returned to your apartments or some such. I have heard that mass transportation offers the “relaxed down time” that might be the perfect opportunity to reflect on these missives. (Please save or discard them before you return to the office, in order to keep our solid-waste expenditures low.)

Congratulations again to all of us on a job well done! Please understand how important each and every one of you or your full-time equivalent positions is to us here at the Dedrick law firm. Here’s looking forward to a profitable (and “somewhat fulfilling” ha ha) year.

CD, Justice (ret.)

CHAPTER 3 is next.