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29 years ago, …
Seated in reclining leather chairs around the rich oakwood conference room table the prospective clients of Porter, Madison & Associates had a spectacular view of Pittsburg’s skyline from the floor to ceiling windows of the 40th floor law offices. The two men and a woman dressed impeccably in business suits had been served their choice of designer coffees, and a continental breakfast prior to starting the meeting.
As they sat around chatting amicably with Melvin and his life-long friend and law partner Charles Madison each side was sizing up the other socially before deciding if they would do business together. The clients were siblings that owned equal shares of a family business but were at odds with other stakeholders. The dispute could result in a multi-million-dollar lawsuit that required a law-firm with experience, integrity, and know-how to defend them. PM&A not only fit the bill but had been highly recommended.
They pushed the dishes aside to be cleared by the discrete staff, who quietly removed the breakfast items. Pitchers of ice-cold water, drinking glasses and crystal bowls filled with mint candies were placed on the table within easy reach. Once they were assured of privacy with the staff leaving and closing the door behind them, Melvin cleared his throat and looked to the eldest.
“So, Simon how can PM&A be of service?” Melvin asked with his sharp #2 pencil poised over a legal pad. He and Charlie usually had a junior associate in the client meetings for notetaking but generally when meeting for the first time, they preferred to do it themselves. Afterwards they would compare notes, assess the viability of taking on the case and if decided would farm the work out to the associates.
Thirty minutes into the meeting there was a soft knock on the wooden door. Everyone turned their attention towards the doorway when Melvin’s executive assistant poked her head in and motioned for him to step outside. Knowing that Marva had strict instructions not to interrupt client meetings unless it was a life or death emergency, or the building was on fire Melvin immediately excused himself with an apology and asked the family to continue talking through their concerns with Charlie. He was sure he’d just be a minute but as a lawyer Melvin was conscientious of other’s time. Even a few minutes could be costly when time is measured in billable hours.