From the book
The law ﬁrm of Finley & Figg referred to itself as a "boutique ﬁrm." This misnomer was inserted as often as possible into routine conversations, and it even appeared in print in some of the various schemes hatched by the partners to solicit business. When used properly, it implied that Finley & Figg was something above your average two-bit operation. Boutique, as in small, gifted, and expert in one specialized area. Boutique, as in pretty cool and chic, right down to the French-ness of the word itself. Boutique, as in thoroughly happy to be small, selective, and prosperous.
Except for its size, it was none of these things. Finley & Figg's scam was hustling injury cases, a daily grind that required little skill or creativity and would never be considered cool or sexy. Proﬁts were as elusive as status. The ﬁrm was small because it couldn't afford to grow. It was selective only because no one wanted to work there, including the two men who owned it. Even its location suggested a monotonous life out in the bush leagues. With a Vietnamese massage parlor to its left and a lawn mower repair shop to its right, it was clear at a casual glance that Finley & Figg was not prospering. There was another boutique ﬁrm directly across the street--hated rivals--and more lawyers around the corner. In fact, the neighborhood was teeming with lawyers, some working alone, others in small ﬁrms, others still in versions of their own little boutiques.
F&F's address was on Preston Avenue, a busy street ﬁlled with old bungalows now converted and used for all manner of commercial activity. There was retail (liquor, cleaners, massages) and professional (legal, dental, lawn mower repair) and culinary (enchiladas, baklava, and pizza to go). Oscar Finley had won the building in a lawsuit twenty years earlier. What the address lacked in prestige it sort of made up for in location. Two doors away was the intersection of Preston, Beech, and Thirty- eighth, a chaotic convergence of asphalt and trafﬁc that guaranteed at least one good car wreck a week, and often more. F&F's annual overhead was covered by collisions that happened less than one hundred yards away. Other law ﬁrms, boutique and otherwise, were often prowling the area in hopes of ﬁnding an available, cheap bungalow from which their hungry lawyers could hear the actual squeal of tires and crunching of metal.
With only two attorneys/partners, it was of course mandatory that one be declared the senior and the other the junior. The senior partner was Oscar Finley, age sixty-two, a thirty-year survivor of the bare- knuckle brand of law found on the tough streets of southwest Chicago. Oscar had once been a beat cop but got himself terminated for cracking skulls. He almost went to jail but instead had an awakening and went to college, then law school. When no ﬁrms would hire him, he hung out his own little shingle and started suing anyone who came near. Thirty-two years later, he found it hard to believe that for thirty- two years he'd wasted his career suing for past-due accounts receivable, fender benders, slip-and-falls, and quickie divorces. He was still married to his ﬁrst wife, a terrifying woman he wanted to sue every day for his own divorce. But he couldn't afford it. After thirty-two years of lawyering, Oscar Finley couldn't afford much of anything.
His junior partner--and Oscar was prone to say things like, "I'll get my junior partner to handle it," when trying to impress judges and other...
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