Legal Widow

Minutes of a meeting between Tom Henderson and Jack Pratchard at the Firm.

Pratchard: Oh Tom, look. I’ve got an email saying “I love you”. Who could that be from? Oh no. My computer’s gone all funny.

Henderson: For the last time Jack, stop opening them. It’s a virus and it’s already cost the legal profession billions of pounds. I find it hard to believe we’ve all allowed this bug to spread so rapidly. I mean, who in their right mind would have sent their lawyer an email saying “I love you”? Thank god the message didn’t read “I hate you” or “How much?” We’d all have opened that without thinking anything was amiss. Luckily for us the virus worked by emailing itself to everyone in our address book – namely clients. But as all our clients mine quarries we were somewhat insulated. A virus that killed carrier pigeons – now that would have been carnage.

Pratchard: Oh look, Tom. An email saying “I love you”. I wonder who that’s from. Oh no, my computer’s gone all funny again.

Henderson: Sweet baby Jesus! I’ve been looking into this virus problem. There’s lots more coming. “I love you” started in the Philippines. There’s a Thailand one called “Me love you long time” and even one originating in the UKcalled “I’m very fond of you but to speak of love is somewhat premature as I’ve yet to even proposition your father.”

Pratchard: We must form a working party across the City to safeguard our systems against this menace.

Henderson: Yes. And maybe no. As you know I employ Kip, my Filipino manservant.

Pratchard: The one on the management board.

Henderson: That’s the fellow. Anyway, he’s got a few a contacts in the homeland and he put me in touch with little Kwan Chi here. He’s only 12.

Pratchard: What did you do Tom? Adopt him?

Henderson: No, I’ve made him the head of the Firm’s ITdepartment.

Pratchard: He should be able to stop all the viruses then.

Henderson: Yes. And perhaps start them as well. After our abortive attempt to destroy our rivals during the May Day riots I thought a more subtle approach was needed. Kwan Chi here can create a virus that destroys law firms but leaves all other systems intact. It sends a simple email to a partner which they simply have to open.

Pratchard: How do you manage that?

Henderson: It says: “We’re a US firm eager to expand in your field of excellence” – Kerching! Once opened the virus scans the partner’s personal files, discovers how much they earn and emails the information to all the other lawyers in London. The result will be apocalyptic.

Pratchard: And this will affect everyone.

Henderson: Not us, because we know about it. And obviously not Masons as the virus is too complex for their ZX Spectrum-based system. It was only saved from “I love you” because it struck on Monday – it takes until Wednesday of every week to warm up its machines. So, Kwan Chi, release the bug and let mayhem commence.

Pratchard: Oh Tom look, I’ve got an email from a US firm wanting to specialise in Slag disposal law. This could be worth a load of money.

Henderson: No Jack!

Pratchard: My god Tom. This says you earn three times more than me. You thieving bastard – Oh look, the entire system has crashed across London.

Henderson: I worried about this. Either the virus reached Slaughter and May and couldn’t cope with numbers that big, or reached Davies Arnold Cooper and had trouble dealing with fractions.