Law & Orders Book One
Jonathan had spent the last ten years of his career arranging matters so that sitting in his office doing very little, the blinds pulled down so that he could snooze if he wanted to, generated a decent number of billable hours, in order to be able to properly focus the rest of the time, when he needed to. And that was what he was doing at around half past three that Thursday. If he’d been fully awake, he might have been wondering how many more hours to give it before he headed home for the night in order to not give the junior partners the wrong idea.
All of which being the case, it was probably bad that Laurie and David chose 3:32 to escalate their argument to the Senior Partner overseeing their career development, which they did, beginning with David shoving the door wide open a hair after Laurie knocked.
The door was oak, and expensive, but like many very expensive things, it moved like it was much lighter than it actually was until it loudly collided with something.
They were both talking at once, and both were trying to talk over the other without raising their voice to a point that could be considered a yell.
Jonathan rubbed his temples and looked out beyond the door. There were a couple of interested faces peering in, watching the drama—Junior Partners, secretaries, and even a couple of lowly associates all seemed fascinated. So he waited for the heavy door to swing closed before he rapped his knuckles against his desk and said, firmly, “Minds adjourned!”
Immediately Laurie and David both fell silent and came to attention in the approved manner.
Jonathan gestured to two of the chairs before his desk. “Sit.”
Moving with almost identically precise motions, the two parted, approached the chairs, and sat. David folded his hands in his lap. Laurie crossed her legs. Despite the mechanical precision of their movement, they somehow seemed much more calm and relaxed than when you saw them chatting at their desks.
Jonathan Young II, a little over fifty, skirting the edge of retirement, sat back in his own highly-priced, comfortable chair, crossed his legs, and steepled his fingers for a moment before interlocking them into a more casual, confident grip as he looked them over.
“Well, top marks for behaviour—now,” he said, his tone returning to something more amused for the first time since his rude awakening. “Alright. David, Laurie, until I specify otherwise, you will not hear the other’s voice. We operate now under total partner-subject privilege. Understood?”
David nodded. Laurie’s lips drifted open to lazily agree with a “Yess…”
Laurie had always taken well to the firm’s methods.
With assent secured, he moved into what he couldn’t help but think of as Discovery. “David. In plain and simple words, your issue with Laurie, please.”
It took David a while to answer. Given how prompt he’d been up to that point, Jonathan could already tell he was going to end up being on Laurie’s side, whoever he actually decided for.
But, in time, David said “Laurie gave me the shortlist for pairings for the graduate trial. Our candidates are biased toward tort. Win or lose, she gets good staff. That’s not true for me.”
Ah, yes. A new tax year, and that led once again to the inevitable interruption. He’d honestly thought these two would be better behaved than that.
“Is she going beyond her rights?”
Another slight pause. Jonathan suspected that David was only now realising how thin his case was—although there’s the chance something was still happening beneath this, and David just hadn’t told him yet.
Maybe he was embarrassed to. In his shoes, Jonathan would be.
“Not to my knowledge,” was the answer in the end. Jonathan nodded to himself.
“Laurie,” he began. “What’s your issue with David?”
“He’s being a whiny dick.”
Ah. Yes, he should have been more careful to strip out the emotive language again. He suppressed a smile, before realising that neither of them were aware of what his face might show. Then he openly grinned.
“I’m going to require more details, Laurie.”
“Yes,” she agreed.
Sometimes he forgot that the most highly disciplined could also be the ones you had to take the most care with. “Now.”
“He’s been complaining about my shortlist. I really need some good tort specialists. I don’t mind if my pairing wins or loses. David’s team is bigger anyway, but it doesn’t seem to have more client activity.
“So I put together a shortlist which suits my team’s needs.”
“Did you give any thought to David’s requirements?”
“Yes. I made sure not to select anyone who didn’t have highest or second highest grades relevant to both teams.”
Well, he had to admit, that did sound like Laurie. She was always thorough.
“Very well. David, closing argument?”
There was a long pause. “No,” he said eventually. “I overreacted.”
“Laurie, anything to add in closing?”
“Nothing of relevance.”
Jonathan smiled slightly. “Alright. Both of you, prepare for judgement.”
Matthew was working at one of the desks in the Howard Library on campus—although if he was being honest, he was mostly surreptitiously checking Twitter while spreading his books and devices out more—with a pen that was far too expensive to chew on wedged into the side of his mouth as he absently chewed on it—when Jessica sat down next to him.
She said his name, then said it again, loudly enough to get his attention. He blinked, slowly, and took the pen out of his mouth. “Huh?”
“I just heard, the guy from H,Y,P is going to be at our next seminar with Nolan!”
Jessica’s eyes were bright, and deservedly so. Howard, Young, & Peterson didn’t sponsor Orton Law School. They didn’t take everyone from Orton Law School who graduated, or even everyone who graduated above a certain grade. But they were the biggest employer for private-practice lawyers in the county, let alone the city.
If they ever franchised—and there were always rumours they’d send Jonathan Young II out to head up a new branch—they could quickly become the biggest private-practice law firm in the state.
But what really made them attractive to Orton students was their retention rate.
95% of Howard, Young & Peterson hires stayed with the firm for their entire professional lives. And the remaining 5% mostly seemed to have left only to become judges.
In a field as competitive and often ego-driven as law, that statistic wasn’t so much unheard of as impossible.
Nobody really knew what a H,Y,P lawyer made, but the firm was clearly willing to do whatever it took to nurture and keep good talent.
And while there was no official H,Y,P link to Orton, it was well known that the School and the firm had enjoyed a cosy, close relationship for decades, well before Professor Nolan left H,Y,P to become the last in a long line of Orton criminal law professors to have studied there, served a couple of decades in H,Y,P, and finally returned to their alma mater to give back.
If Junior Partners occasionally dropped by campus to talk to their old teacher, that was only natural. If Senior Partners stopped by to have lunch with one of their favourite former interns, that also made sense.
And if Professor Nolan asked one of them to give a lecture, or to join in a debate to keep it lively, they were clearly only too happy to agree.
And so the symbiotic relationship continued.
But nowhere was it more obvious than in an Orton student’s final year.
Shortly before final grades, sixteen Orton students would be brought to the practice courtroom at H,Y,P for a moot court—the type H,Y,P often officiated for students earlier in their studies. A twelve-person jury, two prosecutors, and two defence counsel. The defence were commonly called the Fools, because they were defendants as well as defence.
Legend has it that no prosecutor and no Fool had ever not graduated directly into a job at H,Y,P. Legend further tells us that whoever wins the case is placed at a higher rank than the losers, with the losers under them.
The jury are selected from likely hires, and know what is coming. Prosecutors and Fools don’t hear they’ve been selected.
So the story goes. It’s often repeated, as an article of faith, that Prosecutors and Fools disappear from their lodging without anyone noticing—there are half-believing stories of lovers dozing off with their arm over their partner, waking to an empty bed, with no awareness of visitors.
But that must be legend, of course. H,Y,P isn’t a cohort of stage magicians. It’s a law firm. A somewhat eccentric one.
Matthew’s eyes lit up in turn when he heard. “Do you think they’ve chosen yet?”
“If they’re sending someone just to sit in, I think they can’t have. I think we have a chance to grab their attention.” She grinned broadly.
“Prosecutors?” Matthew asked with a laugh. Jessica nodded. “Prosecutors. Together.”
“And then we can call your mom and tell her she never needs to worry about her daughter’s career again.”
Jessica’s nose wrinkled thoughtfully. “I don’t know about that. I tried explaining to her last time I was home. She didn’t believe it.”
Matthew nodded, falling sombre. “Well, at least we’ll know.”
Jessica leaned in and kissed him, long and hard. When she came up for air she said “I’ll let you get back to work. Don’t want you unprepared.”
“Okay. Come find me for dinner?”
She nodded. “Will do. I’m going to see if I can get any secrets out of Nolan this time.”
She left her boyfriend in the library, playing out an imaginary trial in her head. They’d be partners in prosecution, they’d win, and the sky would be the limit…
Laurie seemed to sit a little straighter as the verdict approached.
“I’m going to re-open the shortlist,” Jonathan said to begin his decision. “Not because Laurie has done anything wrong, but because it will encourage people to approach me reasonably if they have questions. I have to be mindful of precedent.” He paused to let their subconscious minds appreciate the point he wanted to make; don’t bother me unless you have a better reason.
“Now, Laurie will still be making the shortlist. She already earned that right, and she has done nothing to make me revoke it. But I will be reviewing it. And David? You’ll be the judge.”
He watched their heads bob slightly in the approved manner for silent acquiescence.
“So that resolves the question you came in here with. There remains the issue of how you chose…” He paused. “How you raised it.”
Jonathan let the implication that choice would have required thought hang in the air.
“David, as the greater transgressor in this case, I’m going to impose Community Service. I’ll be turning you over to Louise Peterson to receive direction.” He smiled. “Go to her office now and tell her I’ve assigned ten hours’ community service, to be served outside billable hours.”
“Yes, sir,” David acknowledge softly. He rose and left the room, gazing vacantly ahead.
There would be an amused phone call in Jonathan’s near future. He considered for a moment and decided not to pass sentence on Laurie until he’d had it.
“Laurie? Mind in session, but don’t leave.”
“Yes, sir,” she replied. As she finished the second word, she blinked, and her eyes became lively again. She shifted in her chair, settling down more comfortably.
“I recognise the need to be firm in making your point,” Jonathan said gently. “But an actual argument isn’t appropriate.”
“That wasn’t my…” She broke off. “Before I finish that thought, have you passed sentence?”
Jonathan smiled and shook his head.
“In which case, I’ll let it lie,” she said. She knew there were some minor impudences she could get away with, to Jonathan’s sympathetic ear. He’d taken over from Professor Nolan as her mentor figure almost seamlessly, and both had a certain tolerance for acting out so long as goals were achieved.
She also had a good idea what her sentence was likely to be and had, over time, come to almost relish them.
Occasionally she wondered if that anticipation made her a less dutiful Junior Partner than she should be. Still, she was confident she’d grow into it.
It was her first year as Partner, after all. She still hadn’t recruited her team yet—after all, that was the argument.
She sat patiently, knowing Jonathan would start a conversation if he wanted one.
And then the phone rang. She saw his smirk as he reached for the receiver, and put two and two together.
“Louise,” he said by way of answer. “Yes… no… yes, he’s all yours. Ten hours, outside billable. Yes, I know. Yes. Yes, I know. I was at the barbecue and I have eyes. Plus the breakroom graffiti.” He laughed. “No, I’ll take care of her myself. Don’t be greedy unless you’re ready to trade… No, absolutely. So I’ll see you tonight? Alright.” His smile had gone from a smirk to something genuine along the way. “I love you too.”
He hung up.
Laurie considered the implications of what she’d just heard. Would she be willing to be traded to Louise for a while, extracurricular?
She felt like she probably-
“Mind adjourned,” Jonathan said. Her thoughts interrupted in the most literal sense, she rose from her chair and came to attention in the approved manner.
“So,” Jonathan said. “We were talking about your sentence.”
“Yess,” she breathed.
“Since you’re a lesser offender, merely rising to his bait, I will give you a lower level of discipline. Six hours of service, five to be served outside billable hours.”
Laurie’s head inclined slightly, not enough to be considered a nod, but enough to serve as acknowledgement.
“I’ll be taking two hours for document preparation,” he said. “Three hours will be served tonight, from seven-thirty to ten-thirty, in my apartment. Maid service.”
A soft hiss escaped her lips. Jonathan was still, after a couple of years, not quite confident of Laurie’s responses when they were this suppressed. But he had an inkling that this was what Laurie did when she wanted to sigh contentedly but felt too deep to do so.
“The final hour,” he continued, “will be served immediately following this meeting.” He glanced at the clock on his wall. “Four til five. As my afternoon has been so disrupted in any case, that only seems fair.”
“That… only seems… fair…” Laurie agreed softly.
Jonathan had a habit of allowing people to agree to matter-of-fact statements. He sometimes caught himself doing it in an actual court, where the advantages of being in H,Y,P were less effective. But it would work there, too.
Lacking a gavel, he rapped his knuckles against his desk.
Laurie blinked. It was always fascinating to watch her features settle into service from either direction. From trance, as now, a certain animation and personality returned, with a warm, contented smile, but her eyes were no less vacant. From wakefulness it was a sinking, not a rising, but the same result was there in both cases—and in both cases, a delight.
Her stance slumped, just slightly, as the automatic attention dropped away.
“Hello, sir,” she said, her voice a purr of satisfaction. “I’m sorry we inconvenienced you.”
Over the years, working with new recruits and junior partners, Jonathan had developed an especial liking for those whose attitudes in service had a little more connection to their behaviour in life. Louise favoured those who suppressed their selves more as they served. He liked to think that was one of the reasons they’d first grown close, before realising friendship and mutual admiration had turned into love and devotion.
He never felt like he’d missed out on romance. If he and Louise had grown into their relationship by accident and without noticing, well, both of them had made up for that several times over as they helped new members of the H,Y,P roster to first feel at home, find their feet, and learn the ropes.
“So you should be,” he told Laurie. “I trust there will be no further interruptions on this topic.”
“I’ll do my best, sir,” Laurie said with a smile. She paused. “You haven’t specified what my hour’s service is to be. Should I draw the obvious inference?”
She stepped around the desk with an eager smile. As she rounded the last corner, she paused, seeming uncertain for a moment. Then she seemed to nod to herself and reached up, unbuttoning her blouse. It was methodical, it was businesslike, but with her eyes on Jonathan, gauging his reaction, it was unquestionably a show all the same.
A show of submission as much as her body.
She set her blouse aside, then reached behind her waist, undoing her skirt. Slipping it down, she stepped out of it, picked it up, folded it and settled it on the carpet just in front of his chair.
Then she took a step back, one foot in front of the other. She shifted her weight, one hip cocked out, and smiled at Jonathan’s reaction as he uncrossed his own legs, planted his feet firmly on the carpet, and grinned.
She settled to her knees on her skirt and brought her hands up, resting them lightly on his inner thighs.
“I don’t think this is really community service,” she grinned.
“Now, Laurie… we have rules about this.”
She pouted, but he went on to add “Bylaw 2.”
Her gaze became glassy for a moment as she recited “Except in cases where the Board has ruled, the Senior Partner in the case is always correct.”
A shiver ran down her as her eyes refocused. Like many other more dutiful Partners, she had taken to her Bylaws very deeply, and seemed to thrive on being reminded of her obligations and rights.
Her fingertips danced lightly over his thighs, up to his belt. She eased the tip out of the buckle, and then paused. Jonathan could actually watch her get the idea and decide, in her service-driven state, to act on it.
She leaned forward and took the tip in her teeth. Making eye contact with him, she lifted her head slightly, causing the buckle to pop open.
Jonathan chuckled. His eyes gleamed with delight.
Laurie fed off his reaction in her turn. Service made her so sensitive to the needs and pleasures of those she served. She teased the zip down slowly, still watching his response, then dropped her gaze to meet him, tented in fine Egyptian cotton.
Her smile turned into a slightly dopey grin, the kind that comes with a sound that isn’t quite coherent enough to be a laugh but still sounds like delight. She ran her fingertip along him through the cotton, focus now entirely on her duty, her service, remembering in the moment of service (as she always did) how delightful that was.
It was at times like these she was glad she’d learned to always keep a spare pair of clean panties in her bottom office drawer.
Delicate fingers excitedly freed Jonathan from his cotton prison, and her eyes refocused again as he sprang free. She licked her lips.
After a moment to contemplate—not just for her, for Jonathan—she leaned forward and took him in her mouth.
Jessica knocked at Professor Nolan’s door and waited for the loud cough that usually meant he was ready to receive visitors. The signal received, she pushed the door open and stepped into the office.
The Professor was at his desk and at his computer, but his hands weren’t in a typical operating position; three fingers were held together, about an inch directly above the space bar. He reached up slowly with his other hand and took an earbud out.
At about this point, Jessica realised she’d interrupted the Professor while he’d been enjoying a short Netflix binge on university time.
Well, so long as he wasn’t angry…
“Is this a bad time?”
His puzzled expression composed itself. “No, I suppose not,” he said, removing the other earbud. “Unless you have a disaster of some kind you want to talk to me about?”
She came forward, fully into the room, and took one of the chairs in a semi-circle around the front of his desk. “The opposite, I think.”
Nolan sat up properly, giving her his full attention. “So. What’s on your mind?”
“I heard there’s going to be a H,Y,P rep in your seminar, and I was hoping you could give me some clues on how to impress him.”
“I really, really want to get in on the mock trial.”
Nolan smiled indulgently. “We both know that’s an urban legend.”
Jessica didn’t say anything in response. She didn’t have to. Her expression showed exactly how little respect she gave that assertion. “Matthew and me, we have what it takes to prosecute the case. But we need to catch this guy’s eye first.”
Nolan smiled slightly. He reached out to the collection of tchotchkes on his desk, as was his habit, and his hand briefly wavered between a stress ball and a glittering silver Rubik’s cube with ‘squares’ of different sizes.
Jessica waited. She’d spent enough time in personal tuition with Professor Nolan to know he’d say nothing while he was choosing. “Each one of these had to be confiscated from a distracted student,” he’d told her once. “I find them a useful aid in thinking like a student, when I need to explain something.”
As he decided, a finger reached out as if on reflex to a white-and-black-striped fidget spinner, mounted for some reason on a metal armature. He set it spinning and picked up the stress ball.
Jessica’s eyes were drawn toward the spinner, as they always were—something about the movement had to be responsible. But she knew better than to show it. And besides, Professor Nolan had begun to speak again. “First off all, the H,Y,P rep I’ve invited isn’t a he.”
She looked at him for that, then flushed. She hated making that mistake. It always felt like she was running herself down too. “Oh,” was all she could think to say.
“Laurie Johnston,” he said. “One of my students. Graduated the year before you arrived, and straight in to H,Y,P. So I suppose it’s her example you should follow.”
Jessica realised with a shame that she’d allowed her eyes to wander back to the spinner. Which really shouldn’t still be moving. But it was, and that motion kept her eyes coming back to it. She pushed herself to look back to Nolan, and prompted him by plucking the last couple of words from memory. “I should follow?”
Nolan nodded. “Very smart, very perceptive, but most of all, a diligent worker. If she hadn’t entered H,Y,P—well, as I recall, she hadn’t planned on private practice. She had her heart set on public service.”
It was the black and white stripes, Jessica told herself for perhaps the twentieth time that year. When they were spinning, they seemed to blend and blur like a spiral. It made for a pattern it was hard to tear herself away from.
She was vaguely aware that, as she often did in this office, she’d stopped really following Nolan’s point. Her head was spinning, and she wasn’t retaining new information.
Best to bluff it out, then, and try and figure it out from calm memory later. She again pulled her eyes from the spinner, meeting the Professor’s amused eyes. “Public… uh, public service.”
“She’s a Junior Partner now. In fact, as of just this year. That’s entirely due to hard work and a strong sense of what’s the right thing to do.”
If she impressed the Professor enough, she might ask to take the spinner with her when she graduated. A permanent reminder of all these conversations. And besides, it was so pretty.
This time she didn’t even bother looking at Nolan. She didn’t want to look away from the spinner. So long as he didn’t make her, she felt like she could stare into it forever.
“The right… thing to do?”
“Good girl, Jessica,” Nolan said. From the shift in his voice she knew he’d stood up from his chair, but she didn’t look away. It didn’t seem to matter. And besides, he thought she was a good girl. So it must be alright. It didn’t matter.
“I think we need to discuss the Mock Trial, Jessica,” Nolan said. Jessica didn’t hear him. She didn’t even register that he’d spoken. But she still answered “Yes, Professor.” She didn’t hear that, either, or notice that she’d spoken.
Nolan’s hand touched her shoulder, and Jessica’s eyes closed, her head slumped. She slept.