The Case of the Leaking Law Firm

“Thank heavens you were able to come,” said the managing partner, a fine man I had known for many years, and, in my considered view, the perfect steward for the reputable yet slightly-wayward City firm whose palatial base of operations overlooks some of London’s grimier Victorian residences.

Time was of the essence, he explained. The firm had, as with many of its peers, sought to expand its ambit via the hiring of so-called “laterals” – those who were partners at another firm and would join as partners, bringing their clients in the form of “books of business” (the contents of which invariably disappointed – but that’s for another tale).

Alas, the firm had achieved a dark reputation, as a “revolving-door”, with as many partners leaving it as joined. My task was to find out why, and to put a stop to the shenanigans before further carnage ensued.

Without delay, I put out the word to a ragamuffin band of trusted contacts throughout the City; recruiters all, men and women whose wish to fulfil their clients’ desires sometimes prevents them speaking truth to power quite as fully as they might wish.

There followed hours huddled in City coffee houses, questions flying, on and on, examining every clue, every scrap of evidence, stitching together half-remembered conversations and fleeting impressions.

The problem was, I deduced, a holistic one. So many factors interlocked, applying subtle pressure here and there, that one simple fix could not be the solution. It would have to be all-at-once, or nothing-at-all.

It was a frosty morning the day of my return to the palace of steel-and-glass, and I was shown into the same meeting room, where again my friend the managing partner waited.

“I have solved your case,” I said, allowing myself the faintest smile as I sipped my coffee. Although I had emailed him the report prior to the meeting, I gave myself the satisfaction of opening a hard copy to the page whereupon lay 12 prescriptions.

“Follow these and your laterals should give you no further trouble,” I said. He duly did.

Now, it is not my usual custom to return to a matter I consider dealt with, but in this case, it was important that we ascertained whether the new measures had had the desired effect and so, a year later, I trod my previous paths and again consulted my ragamuffins.

To my pleasure – and, I must confess, not a little surprise – the firm’s fortunes had improved markedly. Every prescription had been followed to the letter and my cherished band of informants, while delighted at the new ease with which they could transact their business, could not have been more pleased than I as I closed the Case of the Leaking Law Firm.