By Marcus L. Rowland
"...and in other news two lawyers have today set a new world record, with the longest divorce proceedings in more than a century now entering their third year, and commencing anew with their fourth judge. Both citing the other's adultery as grounds for divorce, Wolfram and Hart attornies Lilah Morgan-MacDonald and Lindsay MacDonald-Morgan have fought what experts describe as a 'perfect game', in which neither side has been able to reach a decisive advantage. Despite numerous suggestions that the couple make an out-of-court settlement, the battle for their apartments, cars, and wealth seems unlikely to end any time soon..."
Judge Perry Mason sighed and switched off the radio in his office, and said "Now let me get this straight... neither of you feels that there's a conflict of interest here?"
"No," said Lilah. "Certainly not," said Lindsay.
"You're both working for the same law firm, which is paying all the expenses of this case, and neither of you think it's a conflict of interest?"
"It's in our contracts," said Lilah, "all legal expenses employees incur while working for Wolfram and Hart are paid by the company."
"I'm inclined to doubt," said Perry, "that this is quite what your employers had in mind. Especially since it must have cost them several million dollars by now."
"Maybe not," said Lindsay, "but it's what the contract says."
"Then the only way to end this farce," said Perry, "is to break your contracts."
"That just isn't going to happen, Judge," said Lilah. "Only Wolfram and Hart's Senior Partners can dissolve them. We couldn't, even if we wanted to."
"We'll see about that." He picked up his phone, punched in a three-digit number, and said "Bring up the contracts please."
"Our contracts?" asked Lindsay.
"Certainly," said Perry. There was a short pause, and Lilah and Lindsay looked at each other uncertainly, then there was a knock at the door. "Come in," said Perry.
Lilah stared as a woman with oddly vacant eyes walked in and handed two slim files to Perry. "These are the master copies?" asked Perry. "You're sure?"
"Of course I'm sure," said the woman, "I'm Files and Records."
"Thank you, that'll be all." She left, and Perry began to read through the folders. "Umm..." began Lindsay.
"Just a moment," said Perry, continuing to read.
"But..." began Lilah.
"But what?" said Perry, putting down the files.
"Those files are confidential," said Lilah. "Only the employee in question and the Senior Partners are allowed to read them."
"Exactly," said Perry, turning back to his reading.
"Then that would make you..." began Lindsay, and tailed off into silence. After fifteen minutes Perry looked up and said "Paragraph 287, subclause four stroke two stroke alpha. All legal expenses employees incur as a legitimate part of their employment for Wolfram and Hart will be paid by the company. Tell me, is your personal life a legitimate part of your employment?"
"When you put it that way..." said Lilah.
"I guess not," said Lindsay.
"Good," said Perry, smiling broadly. "Then I think that we can announce that you've agreed a no-fault divorce, an amicable settlement, with all property reverting to its original owners?"
"Of course, Judge." "Definitely."
"And let's say a ten percent deduction from your wages for the next five years to recoup the expenses."
"But that's..." began Lindsay. "...Punitive," finished Lilah.
"We'll make that fifteen percent, I think," said Perry. "Anything else?"
They shook their heads silently, afraid to speak.
"Very well," said Perry, "I think that clears my calendar for the day. On your way out tell my clerk that you're settling, and that I'm slipping out for a bite to eat." He vanished in a puff of sulphurous smoke. A faint noise of screaming drifted in through the window.
"You know," said Lilah, "That explains one hell of a lot. All those impossible cases no other lawyer could win."
"Definitely. Let's get out of here."
"Want to stop by my apartment and draw up an agreement?"
"Why not? Not like I've anything to lose now."