Can't Even Be Mad
so one of the joys of being back in the ranks of the employed is that I get to swap war stories again. yes, we lawyers do bitch about our work. in particular we talk about the horrible opposing counsel (hardly ever the client, almost never your own client). well some of the best war stories come from New York attorneys. boy have they seen some shit.
so this one guy, let's call him dan was telling me about one of his best war stories. now dan is a great guy, I've only known him for about one week but he just has that weird happy-go-lucky demeanour that some New York attorneys have. it's a really great personality. he tends to laugh at himself and the craziness around him. he has huge chiclet like teeth, he has a huge dimpled chin (which always seems to take up most of the camera space when we're on a zoom call) and a very infectious laugh. he also has huge hairy hands (I feel compelled to mention this for some reason).
he wears a lot of gold jewellery and he refers to me exclusively as 'bro'. as you may have guessed dan is of the younger persuasion but he seems vastly more experienced than his years. so here goes the story. we get business out of the way, I make him guffaw at some of my stories and then he sets his big hands in front of him on his desk, stares into his computer camera and intones,
"now, do you want to hear something really crazy, bro?"
"well," and with this he craned his neck up a moment, looked around to make sure that the local bar association wasn't listening and went on, hunched over, gleefully smiling into his camera, "you know people out here, they're moving all the time. get it bro? like ALL the time. the vast majority and I do mean VAST majority in Manhattan or the boroughs around here rent, get it bro? so well new and better apartments always become available. so of course people always want to break their leases and move from whatever shithole they're living in."
dan paused a moment to let me savour the the next part of his delivery.
"well there's this law firm here, shady fucking place, like if Saul goodman had a Saul goodman like lawyer. and they came up with this great thing. you know what they did, bro?" dan waited a few respectful seconds for me to respond.
"I have no idea."
"well, they told their clients to start looking at the air filters around their apartments. they very helpfully gave them the name of a contractor who could find the air filter for them and inspect it. and bro," with this he took a deep breath, "I can't even tell you how genius this is. you know how often a Manhattan apartment building changes EACH units air filter?"
"fuck no bro! try like never. I mean fucking never." with this he leaned back and let out a bray like a donkey.
"so this fucking law firm gets their clients to look at the air filters. bro, I had one where they hadn't replaced it SINCE 2002!!!" at this he grinned slightly before going on, "so, got my client by the balls right?"
"yeah, Jesus I can't believe that they never cha-"
"bro, bro, BRO, I cannot overemphasise that this is literally the least worst thing they could have found."
"oh, so they have your client by the balls..."
"yeah bro, and then they twist. all of a sudden their poor client has had everything from asthma to pneumonia. not only that but their client is so distressed from all this and the shock of finding out that their air filter was never changed sent them into a state of apoplexy which, you know, we could remedy with say, a cool $25,000."
"yes bro. yes."
"so my client, who didn't want to let her out of the lease all of a sudden is shitting butterscotch candy. $25k? fuck this, get me out of this, you get it bro? so I go back and I say, 'no way is it worth $25,000' and then, you know what they say bro?" and with his grand finale coming up, he leaned forward to expose all of his huge teeth, "they ALWAYS agree to settle for the EXACT amount that their client would have had to have paid if they had broken the lease. ALWAYS!!!"
"yeah isn't that some shit bro? like these dickheads get a social justice boner out of it and I know their clients love the 'poetic justice' behind it. but bro, I saved the best for last." at this he beckoned me to come closer even though we were thousands of miles apart and doing this virtually.
"there's always a payback. you know how settlement agreements contain confidentiality clauses, so like you can't comment at all about the agreement or the subject matter that led to it?"
"yeah..." I responded in baited anticipation.
"well think about it bro. now these people need a reference for their new apartment and they always call up the old place. and what does that place say? 'no comment'." with this dan stared into the camera with an expression like donkey in Shrek, "which bro, around here in Manhattan and the boroughs, that's like a death sentence. EVERYBODY and their 98 year old grandmas know that means that some shady shit went down, and most know in particular that a lawsuit/settlement occurred. HA!" and with this he pounded his large hands on his desk in triumph.
"and the thing is bro," with this he leaned in one last time, "I can't even be mad. I mean it's fucking genius. I mean the air filters? who would think of that? you get to feel good about yourself and they could give a fuck-all about their clients as to whether or not they'll get another place. they did their job."
"what a bunch of shitty attorneys."
"no shit bro," and with this he lapsed into a momentary contemplation, "no fucking shit bro."