4 December 1999
Excerpt from a recent pitch by The Firm to Bill Harris, managing director of BigCorp plc.
Mr Pratchard: I read in that Lawyer rag that Weightmans and Bevan Ashford are using actors to help pitch for business. It's a bloody good idea, so I've hired a few for The Firm.
Mr Henderson: Yes, we could get them to help us rehearse our diction and stage presence...
Mr Pratchard: No, I mean I've hired a few actors to come to this pitch today and pretend to be our lawyers. Our lot are so damn ugly and talk like baboons. Whereas look at this delightful creature - she's very easy on the eye - and Chuck here was in a John Grisham film in Hollywood, so he even knows a bit about the law.
Mr Harris: Sorry to keep you waiting.
Mr Pratchard: Can I introduce - sorry, what's your name? - err, Kate, who's head of our corporate department, and Chuck, who's our top biller. And of course you know myself and old Henderson here.
Mr Harris: I haven't seen you two since you turned up for the last pitch we held. Which is a shame, considering we gave you the contract. I had rather assumed you would be overseeing the work yourselves. I ended up liaising with some idiot called Chalmers who never even came to the pitch.
Mr Pratchard: Oh, he's our top man, don't worry. He's not here today because the photocopier's broken and he's taking all The Firm's paperwork to the print shop. Henderson and I would have worked on your file, of course, but we had so many beauty parades to attend around the country it was very hard to make time for all that law rubbish. Anyway, over to Chuck to spell out our vision.
Chuck: Mr Pratchard, Mr Harris, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. My client is guilty, but not of the crime of which he stands accused. He is guilty of loving his wife too much, and if that is a capital felony then execute me and every American proud enough to kill for the sake of the woman he loves.
Mr Pratchard: Wrong script, Chuck.
Chuck: Sorry. The Firm is the leading company in quarrying law, according to Chambers Directory, with a burgeoning practice in Hull, Palermo and Kosovo.
Mr Henderson: You see, Bill - may I call you Bill? - all City firms can do the rocket science. These beauty parades are about discovering the "value added". And the value added I can offer is u20,000 cash, here in this brown bag. Take it, no one's looking.
Mr Harris: I think you should leave. I've decided to go with the first firm we saw.
Mr Henderson: Okay, but you should know that the senior partner has a - how can I say this with subtlety? - a bigger coke problem than Pepsi. And as for that second lot we passed in the hall, I have some secret video recordings of their partners' retreat which even Channel 4 wouldn't show.
Mr Harris: Well, I'll re-tender. The Firm are con-artists.
Mr Henderson: I didn't want to do this but...
At this point Mr Henderson rolled up his trouser leg, stuck a feather in his underpants and put on a pirate's mask.
Mr Henderson: As Grand High Wizard of the City Lodge of Freemasonry, I command you to give us the contract.
Mr Harris: Yes, I obey. The Firm is duly awarded the contract to do all of BigCorp plc's merger and acquisition work.
Mr Pratchard: I thought it was securitisation we were pitching for. Maybe that's this afternoon's beauty parade.