Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
“Unscrupulous? The law is a battlefield, and the winners write the history, but laying that aside, they simply know which levers to pull in the Big Easy. Where do their connections come from? Who cares? What matters is that they can deliver results. For the right price, with the right kind of account, they can even deliver so much more. Ask about an executive account. No, really, ask. It’s worth it. They’ve got crazy resources. Need a pickup from a bad scene? Escort overdosing in your hotel room? Bitch wife trying to take the kids and your money? No, don’t be crazy. They’re not going to kill anyone for you, but they’ll do an awful lot. Or at least, they’ll send someone that will. It’s probably better not to ask the details. Look, it’s all part of the game. This is how the big boys play, they’re just playing the game for you instead of some old fat cat. Get on board, because this is how you get to the top.“
A surprisingly large (and growing) firm given its short history, Monument Law (ML) has rapidly established itself since late 2015 as a powerful legal player in the city despite both the youth of the firm and two of its three initially named partners, both of whom were very promising young associates prior to banding together to open ML with the older but decade-seemingly retired Gerald Bishop. The firm takes a scattershot approach to legal specialties, with interests in corporate law (including representing Malveaux Oil in several smaller matters), criminal law, civil litigation, and asset protection. It caters largely to small companies and wealthy individuals, especially wealthy young entrepreneurs, many of whom have been intrigued by the firm’s razor-sharp operation and lack of ties to the established bloodsuckers of the Big Easy. It bills itself as professional rather than distinguished, practical rather than graceful, and modern rather than dignified, with a structure that makes heavy use of paralegals, secretaries, and paid interns to keep its operating costs low and maximize the efficiency of each of its attorneys.
Everything about the firm’s aesthetic screams that it is atypical. Glass and steel replace wooden desks. Banks of computers in place of bookshelves. Most employees work off tablets rather than paper notes or folders. There’s a sleekness to the entire operation, down to the perfectly polished glass conference tables and black leather chairs. The firm buzzes day and night, maintaining three shifts of operation, drawing heavily upon law school interns and those in school during the day to fill its late night shifts, and the model has proven surprisingly successful. Its ability to provide on call responses to developing circumstances after typical working hours and in the early hours of the morning for their clients has built for them an extensive client list among the city’s successful young professional crowd, many of whom were introduced to the firm by individuals from the Corner Club. Driving while intoxicated? Assault? Drug possession? Public intoxication? Monument Law will have you out on bail quickly enough that you won’t miss work in the morning. For the right price they can get you out that night.
In addition to its overt legal services (and perhaps illegal services), customer service and professionalism with clients is non-negotiable. Waiting clients have access to wifi, complementary beverages and snacks, and rarely are saddled with long wait times when they show up on time. There’s an emphasis on and respect for the client’s time at odds with many larger firms which view them as numbers, and smaller firms which lack the resources. Conference / waiting rooms are private, soundproof, and well-stocked with tastefully out of the way mini-fridges full of likely beverages, and there’s even an espresso machine tucked in a room off of main reception – most of the receptionists were hired out of jobs as baristas. Overall the focus for new employees is on professionalism and reliability more than outstanding talent: those that show up ever day ready to work, do their job, and keep their problems somewhere else are successful, and the overall culture caters to the young, ambitious, and conservative. Those that don’t fit in tend to realize it quite quickly, while those that do tend to love the high functioning environment and its significant focus on retaining and improving its successful employees – the firm offers significant benefits to those seeking to return to school and pursue more advanced degrees, especially paralegals seeking their JDs, as well as flexible hours.
The firm’s financials, as well as even a full list of its own employees, or even practicing attorneys, are intentionally opaque. The entire firm, in fact, is quite secretive, with a fortress like building of black tinted glass and relatively few public disclosures. Parking for ‘senior’ employees is in a gated garage on the first floor of the building and overseen by black garbed security guards with sub-machine guns across their chest. Others park on the street or a lot across from the building. Similarly, the main entrance to the building is by badge or page and sends visitors into a sealed lobby with a waiting receptionist isolated from the rest of the building’s day to day operations. In fact, no offices or other sensitive areas sit on the first floor at all – what space is available is taken up by conference and meeting rooms. Access to the second floor is via elevator for clients (as required) and employees – the stairs are concealed behind a locked door on the first floor (quite against fire code).
The second floor houses most of the firm’s employees and working areas, including offices, a small kitchen and break room, additional conference and planning rooms, and even a small cardio workout room. The lion’s share of the firm’s actual work is done here, with virtually all of the staff having offices or desks. Clients make it to the second floor relatively rarely, though it isn’t unheard of. Offices tend to be broken up into work centers, with each attorney’s office having an adjoining or preceding office with three or four assistants or paralegals parked inside working on their own cases, with one per work center almost always present even if the given attorney isn’t. As throughout the building, the aesthetics are tasteful, modern, and sleek, heavy on glass and metals, with rare use of woods. There’s an almost futuristic sense to the work areas.
Of the third floor very little can be said: access to the floor is by the authority of ‘senior’ partners only, requiring a badge swipe in the elevator. Those few that make it upstairs however have offered relatively mundane descriptions of offices and an additional conference room that looks out on the street from behind the building’s darkly tinted windows, though there are areas beyond certain doors that employees can’t speak to. Rumors among employees range from the playfully absurd (they have a pool up there), to the conspiratorial (they spy on everything that goes on in the building), to mundane (the building’s top floor simply isn’t finished), and they are a popular subject of workplace gossip.
Gerald Bishop, Denise Bowden, and Dustin Reffett composed the initial ‘senior’ named partners of Monument Law. They are the face of the firm and control almost every facet of it, from hiring, to bringing in associates, to taking on clients. Their offices are on the third floor, though they’re frequently found on the second floor at work with various associates and legal teams on cases, or meeting with clients. Young (in all but Bishop’s case) by the standards of partners, much less owners of their own firm, they’ve nonetheless found success thus far, largely by not being as hidebound as other firms, and having attracted an array of talented and ambitious young attorneys to their banner with the promise of a different culture than most firms: and importantly more ready promotion to partner as the firm expands and finds its feet. Some rumors have maintained that Bishop, Bowden, and Reffett are only the front of the company backed by an older and more established attorney, but if there’s any truth to it nothing has been pinned down, and no one can quite figure out why someone with more clout wouldn’t put their name on the door.
• Denise Bowden (Ally [Legal] •••)
Founding partner at the firm. Stories about Denise’s sexual escapades have long held back her career, and she hopes to make a fresh start now that she’s partner.
• Dustin Reffett (Ally [Legal] •••)
Work-addicted criminal attorney thought ‘un-parternable’ after he checked into a psych ward several years ago after having a nervous breakdown. Aggressively eager to prove his detractors wrong with his partners at Monument Law, and proud to have his name on the door.
• Gerald Bishop (Ally [Legal] •••)
The senior-most partner at Monument Law, Gerald is the public face of the more quiet money that’s backed the remarkably successful young firm. He was a highly reputed attorney in his youth, but fell off the map during Hurricane Katrina amidst talk of personal or financial loss, alcoholism, and a decision to retire from law. He seems to be making a comeback now, even if some clients find him slightly eccentric. He’s known to particularly enjoy a stiff drink.
• Nerea Ericson (Ally [Legal] •••)
Former Olympic fencer turned commercial litigator.
• Ian Roberts (Ally [Legal] •)
A paralegal with ten years of experience working in the bitter industry that is family law, Ian steadfastly swears he’ll never marry or have a family. He’s seen the ways in which that goes all too many times. He’s content instead with his long-term girlfriend Chelsea Donaldson and their fairly uncomplicated lives. Nosy but also discrete, Ian greatly enjoys learning secrets and details about people simple for the sake of being ‘in the know.’ In that curiosity, he is greatly satisfied with his job and its ability to pry deeply into people’s lives on a deep and intimate level. He comes from a ‘normal’ middle-class nuclear family himself, including a mother and father who have been married for more than twenty years, and two younger sisters (one of whom he is deeply frustrated with for her recent marriage without a prenuptial agreement). The Roberts family as a whole is old money and includes Louisiana’s governor Bill Jay Roberts, though Ian’s immediate family is only distantly related to the governor and has fallen out of the primary line of succession. They remain comfortably middle class, which each child (including Ian) inheriting a small six figure number worth of stock in the old family company (which his parents used to help pay for his sisters’ college). Ian himself, in turn, is relatively financially stable. His co-workers consider him likable in a self-deprecating, hard-working, humblebragging way.
• Autumn Rabinowitz (Ally [Media] ••)
Director of media relations.