SIX MONTHS EARLIER.
Mike McCheap knows that he is hot property. Having graduated from Cambridge last year with a Law First and the Clifford Nochance Prize for Best Prospective Fee-Earner, and having just obtained a distinction in the LPC, all of the top law firms are vying for his services.
Today he has an interview with Venal & Grabbit. He has already received a generous offer from their arch-rivals, Bills and Thieve LLP, and as he sits in V & G's reception area, he wonders whether he can use that offer to his pecuniary advantage.
He grins at himself for already thinking like a good lawyer.
At that moment a stern-looking middle-aged woman appears at the door. It is Brunhilde, Edgar Venal's formidable secretary.
"Mr McCheap?" She asks, glaring at him severely.
McCheap feels a sudden pang of nervousness. "Y-yes", he stammers.
"Mr Venal will see you now."
* * *
Edgar Venal glances down at the CV on his desk. He is impressed. What's more his spies have told him about the job offer from Bills and Thieve LLP. He knows he must employ McCheap at all costs.
He shudders at the thought of offering an employee more than the minimum wage, but sometimes one has to sacrifice one's principles. After all, he is confident that McCheap will make a top family lawyer. More importantly, he will surely repay Venal & Grabbit handsomely, by bringing in a huge fee income.
Impatient to get his man, Edgar decides to take the direct approach.
"Have you received any other offers?" He asks McCheap, knowing full well the answer.
"One or two." Replies McCheap carefully.
"Any that you are particularly interested in?"
McCheap hesitates. "Well," he says, "there is one..."
"We'll match it!" Interrupts Edgar.
"Including company car?" Asks McCheap.
"Including company car." Says Edgar, trying to keep a pained expression off his face.
McCheap looks interested, but Edgar knows he will have to offer something more. He plays his trump card.
"You've just got married, haven't you?" He asks, a hint of slyness in his voice.
"That's right." Replies McCheap, wondering what was coming next.
"Then you'll be wanting somewhere to live?" Asks Edgar, with more than a hint of slyness.
"Oh yes!" Exclaims McCheap, looking very interested.
Edgar knows he has got his man. He tells McCheap that he will include in his remuneration package a rent-free luxury flat at New Dilapidated House. What he doesn't tell McCheap is that the developer of New Dilapidated House is a client of Venal & Grabbit, and that V & G can get the flat in return for 'ensuring' that the client gets planning permission for their next building project, a new gated community on prime green belt land.
McCheap accepts the job offer on the spot. Within days, he and his new wife Abigail are moving into their luxury flat.