Law & Orders — Moot Court
Rather than go straight home, Jonathan had dropped by Lauren’s office once he finished billing for the day, and had sat in a comfortable armchair in the corner and watched.
This didn’t leave his subordinate at ease, but on the other hand, it did mean that she was unusually productive. And it meant that she did break at seven, just as Jonathan required.
They made their way to the elevator, ready to head down to his car. After the elevator door closed, Jonathan remarked “Mind adjourned.” Immediately, Laurie came to attention in the approved manner. Anyone at H,Y,P would recognise the traits of someone under deep hypnotic instruction.
The elevator stopped twice to let others on. One, another of Jonathan’s fellow Senior Partners, tutted at Laurie’s glazed expression, then glanced at Jonathan. “What did she do?” she asked.
“It’ll all be in the sentencing report,” Jonathan said quietly.
“You haven’t written that up yet?”
“Lauren here will be drafting it for me, off the clock.”
His fellow partner laughed at that, turning away to face the door.
The other new arrival in the elevator, an intern, carefully did not comment. Commenting had been known to lead to summary sentences, if done in front of one of the more tyrannical Senior Partners.
Jonathan liked to believe he wasn’t that bad.
They walked out through a mostly empty lobby. Danni, the evening security chief, saluted Jonathan with a lopsided grin. “Enjoy your night, Mr Young.” To Lauren she added “Enjoy his night.”
Lauren, of course, did not reply. Instead she walked out into the night with the expressionless, graceful dignity of the deeply entranced.
Jonathan had resisted the urge to buy a more ostentatious car for about twenty years, but this still left him driving a ridiculously sleek Jaguar from his early, egotistical just-made-Senior-Partner days. He debated having Lauren drive, but having put her under early, he didn’t want to bother waking her up. So instead he positioned her into the front passenger seat as if she were a doll, settled in behind the wheel, and looked across.
“Smile,” he said, “not like a trophy wife or a naive young girl being seduced by her mentor, but just like a woman who’s happy to be heading home for some fun.”
Lauren did so, although—as expected—the smile did not meet her eyes. How could it?
He pulled out cheerfully into the night.
Whenever Jessica left Nolan’s office, she left with a very cheerful attitude and a slowly growing sense of her own arousal, though to date she’d managed to stop herself acknowledging that the second half of that was connected.
Regardless, by the time she found Matthew (still in the college library), she was sitting on top of a building, driving need.
She slipped comfortably onto his lap, sitting facing him, wrapped her arms around his neck, pulled him in for a kiss. He kissed back, lingered, enjoyed her as much as she enjoyed him, and then, when they came up for air, he cleared his throat and tilted his head to one side to look past her.
Jessica realised Matthew had been meeting with someone at roughly that exact point. She flushed, turned around, and saw Eric, a long-term friend of them both.
“Well, I guess I’m interrupting,” she said, flushing slightly. She slid from her boyfriend and took a seat next to him.
Eric shrugged. “I understand Matt has his priorities,” he said. “We were talking about court, though.”
“Regular court, or—”
“Moot court,” Matthew confirmed. “You’re not the only one who can do some preparation.”
Jessica shot her boyfriend a confused look. Was he really trying to expand the pool?
Matthew shrugged. “We’re trying to work out what people are going to need to look good at to get picked.”
Eric turned his laptop screen around, then pushed his notepad across to accompany it. Looking down, Jessica recognised the names of a lot of younger lawyers from H,Y,P’s roster picked out on the pad.
“The problem,” Eric chimed in, “is that we don’t have an exact list of who gets a cushy H,Y,P job because they were invited to moot court. Or, put another way—”
“Nobody actually knows who was in moot court, let alone who was prosecution or defence,” Jessica chimed in. Eric and Matthew nodded.
“So we’ve been ploughing through every course chat we can find,” Eric said, and Matthew tapped the laptop screen, “reading rumours from every year, trying to put together a list of the candidates each year.”
“We won’t be the only ones, either,” Matthew said.
“OK,” Jessica agreed. “But there aren’t three people to a team, so—”
“I’m not worried about being on your team, guys,” Eric interrupted. “I just want to make sure I’m at least on a team. Make it or not, being in there is enough to guarantee a cushy job.”
The argument, Jessica was forced to admit, had merit. She raised her hands. “Objection withdrawn,” she said. “Does this mean we’re not getting dinner together?”
“Honestly,” Eric said, “I think we’ve done almost as much as we can. We have enough data for a theory, anyway, so—”
Matthew grinned. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask.”
“Okay…” She pulled the pad toward her and started skimming the names, comparing them mentally against the research she’d done on H,Y,P. “There’s no shared speciality that I can see.”
“No,” Matthew agreed. “But we’ve been working on this for about two hours now, you’ve had two minutes.”
Two hours? She surely hadn’t been in Nolan’s office for two hours. Half an hour, maybe. There’d been some lingering chitchat at the end.
Matthew continued. “They don’t share specialities or anything. But if you compare them to what H,Y,P’s active roster was at the time—”
Eric dutifully swapped tabs on his laptop to show another resource they’d been working with.
“— then you realise they all filled holes in the roster’s younger knowledge base. So there’s a practical selection protocol in there.”
“So if we want to get chosen, we need to figure out what they’re looking for, and show them that.”
Eric nodded, then closed his laptop. “You two get dinner, have fun, enjoy your evening. Tomorrow, we have plenty of work to do.”
He stood, and Jessica grinned. “See you tomorrow.”
Jonathan gently steered Lauren’s empty mind and obedient body into the kitchen, where her programming would take over, and went off to dress for dinner in his bedroom, where Louise was waiting with a light of amusement in her eye and a spring in her step that David’s obedient efforts had put there through the afternoon.
The two Senior Partners embraced and kissed, then quietly grinned at each other.
“Going to tell me about it?” she asked.
“You didn’t believe David’s account?”
“There’s not believing someone’s story and wanting to hear eyewitness testimony,” she smiled. “Not at all the same thing.”
Jonathan smiled. “Maybe when everything’s quiet tonight.”
Louise tutted and rolled her eyes, but she was smiling all the same. “Well, sooner or later,” she said. “It sounds like your version will be fun.”
“Did David complain at all?”
“Of course not. Far better trained than that. But honestly I got the impression he was annoyed with himself. I don’t think there’s any permanent irritation there.”
“Well,” Jonathan grinned, “in that case, I’ll consider myself to have helped them both talk things out sensibly.”
“Giving yourself the credit again, hmm?”
Below them, Lauren had paused briefly in the kitchen to strip nude, folding her suit and setting it carefully to one side. The house’s resident cook didn’t bat an eyelid, but simply moved about the kitchen, humming cheerfully as he prepared a dinner for three.
If Lauren had been thinking more clearly she would have assumed the cook was operating just on the edge of trance, having perhaps put herself into that state by doing what she was hired to do. It wasn’t uncommon for Senior Partners to have well-disciplined household staff; that was in the Bylaws, in quite a late addition.
Bylaw 19: Senior Partners are permitted to require client consultation with an appointed representative before beginning pro bono cases, or with clients requiring no fewer than four cases to be prepared annually.
It was very possible that the cook was one who had washed out of a restaurant, engaged H,Y,P over an unemployment suit, and begun her new role in lieu of payment.
Lauren was not, however, thinking more clearly. She was instead enjoying thinking as little as possible. After all, she didn’t need to think when she could, instead, simply follow rules for her evening that had been put clearly in place in her mind.
Having set her suit aside, she opened the third cabinet from the dining room door and took down one of the uniforms waiting there, picking out her size.
It was low-cut. Its hemline was high. It was spotlessly white with black accents. And it was one of several in the cabinet which would show off the body of the person wearing it.
Shortly after she’d won her own Moot Court, some years ago now, Lauren had been invited to a little celebration here, a chance for the Senior Partners and selected Junior Partners to get to know the high-flying new arrivals.
There, she’d seen women wearing this more revealing, more titillating redesign of a modern formal server’s outfit, and men wearing a very tight-fitting equivalent. If it hadn’t been for Professor Nolan’s patient adjustments throughout her final year, she would probably have panicked just to see it, but as things were, it had all seemed, if still not normal, perfectly acceptable.
It was now, as she settled herself into the tight, crisp, firm white bodice which replaced a pristine white blouse, that she realised that the servers at that party would have been people she’d later worked with at the firm. In so different an environment, she hadn’t recognised them.
A new pair of sheer black high-top stockings was supplied with the outfit. She pulled them on, some part of the back of her mind noting that money had been invested in these uniforms—these stockings were surprisingly luxurious to the touch. Maybe that was for her, maybe for attendees who might want to run their fingers along her legs.
The black skirt fell a little less than halfway down her thigh while standing. She briefly thought it completed the overall ensemble, but found herself stooping to pick out shiny black patent-leather heels. She stepped in and strapped them into place, and again thought that was it, before she found her hands selecting a barette and tying her hair back—or trying to; she kept it cut pretty short, and it wouldn’t all go into a ponytail, dark wisps framing her face.
And then she took down a box of makeup, her body knowing where it was even if her mind didn’t.
It seemed like there were plenty of reasons she might not have recognised her co-workers since.
The inside of the cabinet door held a mirror. Gazing into her own blank, empty eyes, she cleansed her own makeup off and started to apply a new look, one dictated by what was available, directly suited to a uniform appearance with her outfit.
By the time she was finished with that, there was audible, amused conversation through the dining room door. She put the makeup away, closed the cabinet, and stepped through the door.
“Good evening, sir, madam,” she said with a welcoming cheerfulness, fuelled by her own enjoyment of her own mental state. “Can I offer you both a drink?”
All three smiled.
David knocked tentatively on the door of Professor Nolan’s apartment on campus. It was occasionally risky to disturb him in the evenings, as his projects sometimes needed (or just wanted) hands-on attention as they matured.
After a few minutes, though, the door was opened, and Nolan looked out curiously. “Daniel?” he asked after a moment, then shook his head. “No, David. I’m sorry.”
“Too many students through the years?” David asked, hoping to make some light of it. “I do understand. Can I come in?”
Nolan nodded, giving ground at the threshold. “What can I do for you, David?”
“I’m looking for some inside information,” David explained as he made his way in. “I’ll be judging the Mock Court, after all.”
“Inside information on… the candidates?”
“Right.” He nodded. “You, uh, you might already have heard, Lauren and I got in trouble arguing over this.”
Nolan regarded him with amusement as he took his favourite armchair. He gestured David to another, across the room. “As she had selection privileges, I assume you had most reason to incite an argument.”
David conceded this point with a nod. “Yes, this one was kind of on me,” he agreed. “I’m trying to avoid doing that again.”
“Acting on immediate instinct, when I’m angry, and getting it wrong. If I know what I’m getting… no. If I know what the options are, I can spend some time thinking about it, and make my peace with each side first. Then I can make a fair decision.”
Enlightenment dawned on Nolan’s face. “You’re the judge.”
“Yes, I begin to see the issue,” he said with a smile. “Alright…” Nolan sat back, as if thinking the question through. He reached out, out of habit, and picked up a small metal cylinder, about an inch long, made of several interlocking parts. A puzzle to fiddle with. A finger reached out as if on reflex to a beautiful brass disc inlaid with a silver swirl, mounted on the kind of sturdy base expected of desk lamps. He set it spinning.
David’s eyes were drawn to it immediately, irresistibly. Or, more accurately, he had learned not to resist. Which being the case, Nolan didn’t dress it up with patter as he often did, but instead he gave his own attention to his puzzle. He solved it and reset the puzzle, then he looked up.
“Well, this way,” he said, obviously amused, “I can ensure a set of correct answers. And perhaps we can figure out a better way to resolve your issues.”
Matthew was, as often happened after Jessica met with Nolan, overwhelmed by her sudden spike in desire. Occasionally, in the aftermath of one of these bouts, he’d wonder if he should consider what that said about her dynamic with Nolan, but he’d had private consultations of his own with Nolan. It was probably fine; the professor was a pretty decent guy. (And, honestly, he considered Nolan a bit of a mentor too. Although he felt like most of the students at Orton probably did.)
But it was some time before they either got dinner or got back to work on what had become their obsessive project. With that much student debt building up and that many years focus on the career goal, both of them had become almost fixated on just the idea of getting the next step secured.
It’s not a pleasant thing to start working toward a career and suddenly realise that the industry is changing and the job you thought you were guaranteed might never be there.
H,Y,P wasn’t just the biggest local law firm; it was that rare law firm that continued to thrive. It had investments all over town. Having helped thousands of the town’s inhabitants, it had been given, afterward, shares in a number of other businesses. It owned three apartment complexes, two of which were maintained for free accommodation for interns, researchers, and Junior Partners.
And the Moot Court was the only guaranteed shortcut to success there. Although to get that shortcut, you needed to be one of the four best performers in fields where H,Y,P felt a need for new staff that year; you needed to be selected, which Matthew at least figured meant you also had to look like someone they might want to work with; and the rumour had it that if you wanted to be significantly successful, you also needed to figure out a way to win the case, with very little prep beyond what you already knew.
Some shortcut, when you looked at it that way.
Jessica’s passion spent, he lay under her in bed, attempting to recover his thoughts and think through the situation they found themselves in. What was going to be the best way to solve this? What would work? Could he make sure Eric got on opposing counsel? (He was pretty sure he could outthink Eric and find whatever he’d missed in witness prep.)
Who else was possible?
He reached down and scrabbled in his clothes by the side of the bed until he could haul out his phone. Jessica snuggled her head into his chest as he ran a search for publicly accessible cases featuring H,Y,P lawyers in the past year. What were their weak spots going to be? What did they need someone to shine in?
The theory behind Jessica’s trip to Nolan had been to find out and, when he’d asked her, she’d seemed confident that she’d found out—but her answer was vague as she was distracted. Another information source had to be a good thing.
He probably lost a full hour to his focus on building that list of weak spots. Even then, he wasn’t sure of nearly all of it.
Still, at the end he had what he could at least call guidelines. A list of areas they would probably want new recruits to be strong in.
And the potential to create a list of opposing counsel.
He gently disentangled himself from Jessica’s widely-flung limbs, tucked her in under the covers, and moved across to the chair by his desk. He booted up his laptop and sat there, nude, bathed in its flickering blue-white light.
He opened up two windows, sizing them so that each took up half the screen. In one, he had the class Discord server, with the majority of the students active in it. In the other, he had a blank word document.
Putting his phone down beside them, he began to match the gaps he’d identified in his phone notes to fellow students.
He was relieved to see that he and Jessica both looked like they were on any likely shortlist.
Eric was on there, but… Matthew pulled a face. He considered Eric a real friend, but he couldn’t in all honesty put him higher than sixth or so. Maybe he needed to suggest Eric spend more time with Professor Nolan, too.
Much more likely were Madison, Nicholas, and Heloise. Nicholas and Heloise probably most of all; they were Big Law Family through and through, descendants not just of lawyers but of big-name lawyers. Add to that the fact they had the right skillsets and they seemed like a shoe-in for Moot Court.
Which meant Matthew had to make sure he and Jess outdid Madison, at minimum. (And Eric, of course. Which… probably meant not helping Eric. The next month or so could be very awkward; for the first time, he found himself actually wishing he’d thought this through before taking Eric into his confidence.)
Lauren’s evening had been blissful. Community service, as arranged by Jonathan, was not so much a humiliation as exactly what service was meant to be; a cost in time, giving back, but nothing more. Watching Jonathan and Louise, still deeply in love, nonetheless interact with and be entertained by their servant of an evening was extra joy. It would, when she awoke finally, be an opportunity for her to reflect on her potential future as she succeeded in the firm. Perhaps even with David, if the two of them hadn’t separated by then.
The world of relationships changed when a hypnotic hierarchy was created, especially when erotic services weren’t taken off the table. Romantic relationships in H,Y,P came with a wider level of worldliness and a hypnotically-enforced open mindedness. There was absolutely no reason here to dig into the ‘sunk cost’ of a relationship if it turned sour.
None of this went through her mind as, bent over the table with her legs spread, she pumped back against Jonathan, her mind and body both in states carefully adjusted to maximise his pleasure, while Louise finished her own dessert—a delicate pastry creation with some sort of intricate chocolate ganache decoration—and watched with amusement. But the thoughts did enter a holding pattern, ready to cross her mind after her service period was over.
For the moment the only thing filling her mind was Bylaw 1.
Bylaw 1: The greatest pleasure comes from using all talents at your disposal to please your seniors.
It was well known within the firm that every other success H,Y,P had had since their retention as lawyers by Clark Hull, almost ninety years ago, had been down to their determination never to violate Bylaw 1 once it was successfully instilled. The only issue it had created had been when Roger Howard, the first Senior Partner, who had worked directly with Hull, and who was the only H,Y,P staff member never to have been indoctrinated with the Bylaws, passed away four years after his official retirement. The succession crisis had been adverted only when Louise’s grandfather, Thomas Peterson III, had volunteered to take the role, giving up the greatest pleasure in order to ensure the continuity of the firm.
1948 had been an unusual year in the firm’s history. But everyone now had the same level of respect for the Bylaws, and precedent meant this would never be an issue again.
And that was why Lauren, dressed in a skintight, sexualised parody of a wait staff outfit, her breasts now falling out of her bodice, was so delighted to be the unthinking pleasure toy of her senior at this time. It wasn’t why Louise enjoyed watching her lover take pleasure in Lauren—the two were considered of equal position—but that same understanding pervaded the room.
They had all been shaped by H,Y,P, and none of them would ever regret it. The firm had seen to that.
The following morning, Matthew and Jessica both heard their phones chime with an email alert, perhaps thirty seconds between the two alerts, on their way to class. Matthew had ignored his, figuring he’d get it later, but when a second came through almost immediately they both looked at each other, silent for a moment.
They stopped in their tracks together and both pulled out their phones, quickly opened the emails -
“Nolan wants another meeting with me,” Jessica said excitedly. “He’s given me a timeslot.”
They grinned widely at each other. There was absolutely no reason they could think of, other than the moot court, that he would ask to speak with them specifically.