Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & 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.“
Monument Law (Monument) is a large and influential firm in New Orleans with offices on the 33rd floor of Perdido House. Most clients are shocked to learn that so prominent a firm was founded in 2015. They’re not surprised over why. Monument’s attorneys have a bare-knuckled, hardball, full-court press reputation that has made them one of the most feared, hated, and successful firms in the city. Many smaller firms refuse to take cases against those they represent. Larger and more established firms have learned the hard way that Monument boasts more than razor-sharp legal minds. Monument has an almost unethical amount of influence. The firm has ties to prominent judges, local officials, and even police and emergency services.
The firm’s offices in Perdido House buzz night and day. They maintain an atypical but effective three-shift schedule that allows them to respond to client needs immediately at all hours, barrage opposing counsel with mountains of paperwork, and employ a larger than normal number of interns and others working off hours around school schedules. The office thrives on the youth of not only its featured partners, but also that of its interns, associates, and paralegals. They employ novel legal strategies that might die in a more traditional firm.
Monument’s undisputed specialization is Employment and Corporate Law. The firm is the primary outside counsel for regional powerhouses such as Whitney Hancock Bank and Malveaux Oil. That status is unsurprising and often commented on. After all, the Malveaux and Devillers heiress Caroline Malveaux-Devillers’ is a partner in the firm. Snide comments about nepotism have done nothing to separate Monument from its lucrative contracts.
While corporate matters may be their bread and butter, the firm also maintains meaningful Civil Litigation and Criminal Law divisions. They mostly represent already wealthy and exclusive clients. Their representation of the Malveaux family in the numerous wrongful death suits following the death of Claire Malveaux is only one of the more public successes they’ve notched.
The modern success of Monument is all the more shocking for its rocky beginnings. Founded in 2015 as Bishop, Bowden, & Reffett, Monument was rebranded to its current title and shifted its offices to its current Perdido House location in 2016. This occurred after the tragic deaths of early partners Gerald Bishop and Nerea Ericson in a car accident.
There was much speculation that the deaths of two partners would close the firm’s doors. Bishop was Monument’s best-known and most experienced partner. Instead, the firm limped along. ‘Dead peasant’ insurance payments and rumored settlements related to the partners’ deaths gave some much-needed cash flow. The firm stopped limping with the very public addition of heiress Caroline Malveuax-Devillers. She brought aboard the firm’s two largest clients and solidified a position of authority atop even the ‘founding’ partners. It has persisted to this day.
Looking out from the 33rd floor of one of New Orleans’ most iconic buildings, Monument Law makes its wealth and influence known long before clients step foot in its offices.
It begins with parking at Perdido House. The skyscraper’s underground gated garage for VIPs and executives is overseen by black-garbed security guards with submachine guns. They all but scream that riffraff will not be tolerated. The walk across the street from the more public lot leaves a no less powerful impression of the massive skyscraper. VIPs can expect to be met in the parking lot and escorted up a keycarded elevator. Less distinguished visitors are badged by the building’s receptionists in the lobby before taking the elevator up.
Once on the 33rd floor and inside the sprawling domain, visitors are assaulted with a fiercely efficient and modern, almost futuristic, aesthetic of glass, steel, and black granite. The whole office is badged: access to each area is restricted to employees and those escorted. Conference and waiting rooms are framed with steel and privacy glass. They’re left transparent while waiting, but turned opaque once meeting are in progress. Banks of computer and television screens replace traditional bookshelves in meeting rooms and offices. Most employees work off tablets rather than paper. On demand, they seamlessly transfer work to those displays. There’s a polished sleekness to the entire operation, down to the perfectly gleaming glass conference tables and black leather chairs. It’s designed to send a message: this firm is focused on the future.
The lobby and polished conference rooms are as far as most go into the firm’s office spaces. They’re positioned just off the reception area to purposefully contain visitors and clients. Immediately past the conference rooms are the senior partner offices for Ms. Bowden, Mr. Reffett, Ms. Malveaux-Devillers, and Mr. Rose. Their location is not incidental: as senior partners, they’re the most likely to meet with visitors in their offices. The central locations best positions them to meet with clients in the conference rooms, as well as look in on the rest of the firm’s work. It also requires incoming employees to walk past their offices every day: a reminder of who is at the top. Two additional ‘senior’ offices sit empty, awaiting the next high achievers to join the firm. The message is far from subtle: there’s room at the top.
Past them are wings for each major line of effort: corporate law, employment law, civil litigation, criminal law, investigations, and special services. Each wing includes a large common “workcenter” for paralegals and interns. These centers are adjoined by supervising attorneys’ private offices. There are at least three per line of effort to facilitate the three shift work schedule. Visitors rarely have cause to journey that deeply into Monument. Mingling between the different lines of effort is typically only facilitated in the well-stocked and comfortable break room they share.
Families: The Devillers, the Malveauxes
Status: Monument Law ••••
The “lead” partner at Monument since 2016, Caroline’s role was originally assumed to be a bridge with several high-profile clients she had relationships with. Her limited physical presence at the firm only reinforced this. Some employees joked that she was the only there for that purpose, or that her association with the firm was a vanity piece for a spoiled rich girl. Few of those jokes survived into 2017. By then, she’d established a reputation not only as a frightful savant who could quote applicable case law from memory, but also as Monument’s hardball negotiator. When a settlement was absolutely required, Malveaux-Devillers was the partner brought in. Her trial history is limited and some whisper non-existent, despite her name attached to many cases associated with the firm. Still, few opposing counsels are eager to sit across from her at the negotiating table. Malveaux-Devillers works irregular schedules around an array of responsibilities. She’s most frequently seen in the office on the second shift into the evening.
Status: Monument Law •••
Founding partner at the firm that survived the transition to Monument Law, stories about Denise’s sexual escapades are almost legendary, and certainly infamous, in the legal community.
Family: The Reffetts
Status: Monument Law •••
Founding Partner at the firm that survived the transition to Monument Law, Dustin was a work-addicted criminal attorney thought “un-parternable” after he checked into a psych ward in 2013 after following a nervous breakdown. He proved his detractors wrong in his success at Monument as the lead on their criminal law division. He’s also been a force within the firm as the partner most available on their ‘day’ shift. It’s not uncommon for Dustin to work 12-15 hour days at the firm, coming in before sunrise to start his day and keep tabs on others. While his focus is criminal law, he can’t resist sticking his toe in almost every other aspect of the firm’s business. He has a fantastic win rate when cases go to trial, but slips into bouts of self-loathing following a rare loss. The other partners usually need to intervene then. The rest of the office knows to keep their distance.
Family: The Roberts
Status: Monument Law •
A paralegal with ten years of experience working in the bitter industry that is family law, Ian swears he’ll never marry or have a family. He’s seen how that goes too many times. Instead, he’s content with his long-term girlfriend Chelsea Donaldson and their uncomplicated lives. Nosy but discrete, Ian enjoys learning secrets and details about people simply to be ‘in the know.’ His job, and its ability to pry deeply into people’s lives, more than satisfies that curiosity.
Ian comes from a ‘normal’ middle-class nuclear family. He has a mother and father who’ve been married for over twenty years and two younger sisters. (He’s deeply frustrated that one got married without a prenuptial agreement.) The larger Roberts family is old money and includes Louisiana’s governor Bill Jay Roberts. Ian’s immediate family is only distantly related to the governor, though, and has fallen out of the primary line of succession. They remain upper-middle class, which each child (including Ian) inheriting a small six figure number worth of stock in the family company. (His parents used it to help pay for his sisters’ college.) Ian, in turn, is financially stable. His co-workers consider him likable in a self-deprecating, hard-working, humblebragging way.
Family: The Rabinowitzes
Status: Monument Law ••
Ms. Rabinowitz occupies an unusual position within ML as the Director of Media Relations and Special Services. This places her somewhere between a partner and associate in power and influence within the firm. Officially, her office supports lines of effort for all of the firm’s focus areas. She’s responsible for arranging everything from private investigators to press releases to favorable media coverage. Sometimes she also arranges extra-judicial services such as short-term lodging or protective services. Some early associates scoffed at her. None survived her at the firm. Canny would-be partners have learned the value in currying her favor.