Bendini, Lambert & Locke

The small firm in Memphis who hired only forty one lawyers, it takes only rich clients- corporations, banks and wealthy people who pay healthy fees and never complain. Bendini, Lambert & Locke had developed in a specialty in international taxation. With 41 lawyers the firm is the fourth-largest in Memphis, but its members do not advertise or seek publicity. Intensely clannish, they do not even fraternize with other lawyers. Their wives play tennis and bridge and shop among themselves. Bendini, Lambert and Locke is a big family of sorts and a very rich one.

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Mitch McDeere is a young man with a promising future in law. About to graduate from Harvard Law School, he is approached by Bendini, Lambert & Locke, and made an offer he cannot refuse. He and his wife, Abigail “Abby”, move to Memphis, where The Firm is located. The firm leased him a BMW, paid off his school loans, arranged a mortgage and hired him a decorator. Bendini, Lambert, and Locke is just one big family, Mitch is told, but Abby balks when she sees how strongly the firm wants to run both Mitch’s life and her own.

As one of the firm’s selling points, Lambert explains that its earnings per lawyer are higher than any firm of its size or larger. Although this might indicate that each lawyer is extremely productive and/or that each works longer hours than usual (which they do, he claims), there is another matter that distinguishes his firm from others. In order to maximize its profits, the firm chooses its clients very carefully. It only takes on rich clients—be they corporations, banks, or wealthy individuals. In other words, its clients are exclusively those who are able to pay the firm’s hefty prices and who are used to paying their bills on time. And since the firm specializes in international taxation, a highly profitable specialty, the pool of clients that satisfies these criteria is large and stretches across the globe.

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