Friday, March 01, 2019

First Paragraph

When Clitus Tilney heard Tower, Tilney & Webb criticized as a "law factory" and its opinions described as "assembly line products," it did not bother him in the least. He knew the fashion among lawyers to affect an aversion to administrative detail, to boast that their own firms were totally disorganized, that they practiced law in a bookish, informal atmosphere,suggestive of Victorian lithographs of county solicitors seated at rolltop desks and listening with wise smiles to the problems of youth and beauty. But he also knew, from his own early days, the price paid for that kind of atmosphere: clerks unpromoted and underpaid, or kept dangling in the hope of partnership until they were too old to get other jobs, aged partners grabbing too much of the profits, an office staff bullied by those spoiled old tartars whom the hoodwinked regarded sentimentally as "treasures." And he knew what disorganization did to overhead. It might be feasible in a firm of twenty lawyers, but when Tilney had joined Tower & Strong it already numbered thirty-four, and now, under his leadership, it had risen to seventy. These, with a staff of a hundred, occupied two great gleaming floors in a new glass cube at 65 Wall Street, with modern paintings and a marble spiral staircase and a reception hall paneled in white and gold. It had not been enough for Tilney to make himself the finest securities lawyer in New York. For every sixty minutes dedicated to the law he had to devote twenty to administration. He had to be a housekeeper, a headmaster, a f├╝hrer.

- From Powers of Attorney by Louis Auchincloss

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