The Firm

Minutes of a meeting between Tom Henderson, managing partner, and Angela La Croix, corporate events manager.

La Croix: Apparently Linklaters has opened up its own in-house shop – Silks Essentials – to sell everything from newspapers to pain killers to their staff. I was wondering if we could set up something similar.

Henderson: Don't I already do enough for these people? God dammit, I even pay some of them.

La Croix: But it would mean staff wouldn't have to waste time at lunch going out to buy things.

Henderson: Now I see what you're saying. It's always rankled with me when staff "pop out for five minutes to buy some milk". It's like when they "pop to the toilet", or "wait for the photocopier to warm up". It means they're not working. It's as if they were stealing from The Firm. As if they were breaking into my private safe and burning my untraceable Colombian government bonds one by one. The bastards! From now on if staff want anything, they have to get it from me. I'm the big daddy round here. Oh, this takes me back to my days at Ford Open Prison. Snout mate? That's 50p. What mate, that's a bit expensive. Maybe I should drag you to the shower and pummel you with two snooker balls in a sock! The shop's a great idea but there's no need to sell newspapers – no one will have time to read them. The shop can stock essentials like The Firm's headed note paper. It's about time people round here started paying for the privilege of using that.

La Croix: Actually, I see it more as a service for the staff, to improve the quality of their working lives. How about a staff restaurant where they can relax and "chill out" to escape the stress of work?

Henderson: I like it, but how about a slightly different concept. A staff fast-food bar, where they're in, out, and back at their desks within a minute or I fine them a portion of fries.

La Croix: We could introduce other services like dry cleaning and laundering…

Henderson: Laundering? You can't be serious. As if we're not in enough trouble fighting those three, entirely trumped-up, counts of money laundering in the Cayman Islands, you want to accept money the staff have made illegally trading in narcotics and process it through my new shop! Madness, woman, madness!

La Croix: I meant laundering clothes, Mr Henderson. We could also hire a staff doctor and dentist.

Henderson: You're a genius. Staff need never leave the building at all – and I know a good dentist, Signor Brassi, who's particularly good at extracting teeth. Let's offer them everything they could ever need. A bookshop. A cinema. What about a travel agent. They can go anywhere, as long as it's in the office. Need a new car? Of course not, you silly secretary, you're trapped in The Firm like a laboratory rat. Have you ever seen The Great Escape? We could turn the underground garage into a barracks. The elevator can bring up the workers in eight-hour shifts allowing The Firm to work 24 hours a day.

La Croix: I don't know about that. I mean, our lawyers will have to leave the office occasionally, to go to court and liaise with clients.

Henderson: Okay then, how about Plan A, we try and persuade all our clients and the High Court to come and live in the ground floor storage area. Or Plan B, we implant all our lawyers with microchips allowing us to track them. If at any point they leave Underground Zone 1, the chip releases a powerful nerve toxin.

La Croix: Can I go now Mr Henderson?

Henderson: Of course not La Croix. Nobody ever leaves.