Minutes of an extraordinary meeting between Tom Henderson and Jack Pratchard to discuss potential new partners at The Firm.

Henderson: So Jack, it’s that time of year again and we can’t carry on using that dodgy French ruse of not promoting anyone. At the rate we’re losing partners there’ll soon be only you, me and that odd chap who keeps sending me emails with strange attachments.

Pratchard: Not only that but our plan to use the money we save to bump up our profits seems to have fallen flat. We still seem to be losing money – at least whenever I look at the books.

Henderson: We’re not exactly losing money. We’re just moving it to strategic locations in order to maximise our resources – my Egg account pays a damn good rate of interest. Nothing for you to worry about Jack. But I take your point, new millennium, may be time for some new blood. Time to reward those hard-working troops at the chalkface who’ve made this firm what it is today.

Pratchard: But most of them aren’t due out until June.

Hendersen: True, but they’re going to bring back a whole new range of skills that we can use. Anyway, what about promoting some of those chaps I saw in the corridor the other day?

Pratchard: No, I think they were from the OFT. Are we going to find these new partners in the normal way? Only the police have closed down that little club on Dean Street. I barely got out of the window in time.

Henderson: No. To be a partner at The Firm you need more than manly prowess, daddy’s credit card and a decent supplier. You need to have character, discipline, a sense of honour and most importantly you need unswerving loyalty to me. I’m going to institute a new nomination and selection process, a process fit for a 21st century firm.

Pratchard: Ah, I see your logic Tom. No “Henderson voted out by partners” headlines. No palace coups further down the road. Surround yourself with people who share a common goal, a clear vision, men who are not afraid to say yes.

Henderson: Please Jack, less sexism. The ladies should know when to say yes too.

Pratchard: Good point well made. So are we going for the same simplified nomination paper that we have for the management committee? It makes counting so much easier. What was it you got last year? 100 per cent?

Henderson: No, 99.7 per cent. And what happened to that internal enquiry anyway? I want to know who spoiled that paper. But you’re right, maybe I should go for a lower figure this year. I suspect the legal press have seen through that little ruse. The new process needs to be streamlined.

Pratchard: So you want those wipe-clean voting papers then?

Henderson: Yes, but I’ve got bigger plans. I’m going to make use of the latest technology, the best personality profiling and psychometric testing. I got the idea from that new film…

Pratchard: …Being John Malkovich?

Henderson: No, once again for comic effect you have deliberately misunderstood me. The film is Clockwork Orange. I have the Optrex, all I need is some paperclips and to borrow the ghetto blaster from that chap in the postroom.

Pratchard: You’ve been using that handsfree kit again haven’t you Tom?

Henderson: No, I always walk down Chancery Lane talking to myself, it’s quite common round there. The thing is to find a foolproof way of ensuring we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet – mine. All together now: (he sings) Freude, schoner Gotterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken, Himmlische, dein Heiligtum…