Body of Law (Volume 1)

By: Amanda Lance

Chapter 1


At fifty-two stories, the Wilson Tower was one of the tallest in Chicago. Unlike the other skyscrapers in the neighborhood, its blue glass exterior provided rainbow reflections when equally shiny cars and the morning sunlight hit it just right. If that weren’t obnoxious enough, everyone who passed by on foot was rewarded with semi-accurate reflections of themselves.

I hated that more than anything, knowing I couldn’t avoid looking at myself. I hadn’t even started yet and I was already making compromises, sacrificing my casual look by sculpting my hair into a well-centered bun. I did at least leave my crooked bangs out in the open, and only traded my usual lack of make-up for some mascara and eyeshadow.

My clothes, though, were another matter. Since I refused to give myself over completely to corporate America, a few trips to the Goodwill helped me piece together a few different arrangements of blazers and dress pants to go along with my mediocre collection of tops. The only problem with saving so much money and helping the needy was the lack of accuracy in the sizes. And more than once, my attempts at hemming resulted in swearing — and throwing needles across the room. I sighed and tried to adjust the belt on my skirt. For whatever reason, I could memorize case law like no one else in my class, but any attempts at being domestic and I was dead in the water.

I approached the entrance to the building and, without any hesitation, the large doorman let me inside. I smiled my thanks and bypassed the security desk for the elevators. After three rounds of intern interviews, I knew where I needed to be—even if it wasn’t where I wanted to be.

The last thing I had ever envisioned when entering law school was working for an international criminal law firm like Gardner, Burke and Gates. I had been fighting for the downtrodden my entire life— my dad had spent my childhood bad-mouthing conglomerate firms, emphasizing the importance of humility over wealth, generosity over power, and empathy as an alternative to personal gain. To him, one person could spend their entire life trying to make the world a better place and probably still not make up for their own mistakes. For all of his own self-righteousness, however, Dad did say in the end that raising me was the best thing he’d ever done.

What would he think if he could see me now? How disappointed would he be?

The elevator opened up to a well-lit lobby, completely contemporary in every sense of the word. Granite flooring paved the way to leather furniture, baskets of fresh fruit on display on every horizontal surface. The same wood paneling that surrounded the elevator doors matched the paneling here, framing the bronze sign with the partners’ name on it. Anyone else would have been intimidated by this display, or excited to be chosen for a paid internship with one of the city’s most prestigious criminal law firms. But all I felt was a unique sense of self-disappointment. I reminded myself that this was a paid internship, that it was good for my resume… and that I was only selling a little piece of my soul.

Mistaking my disgust for nervousness, my expression caught the attention of a pretty receptionist wearing an expensive-looking business suit. She tilted her head at me and flashed a smile, her lips layered in ruby red lipstick.

“Gardner, Burke, and Gates—hold one moment please.” Admittedly, putting someone on hold for me did make me feel a little more welcome but I tried not to put too much stock in it. She pulled the speaker of her headset away and beamed up at me.

“Hello there! Summer associate?”

I looked down at my scuffed dress shoes. “What gave me away?”

Still smiling, she pushed out her chair and stood up. “Honestly?”

I nodded intently. If I was going to give away some of my morals for this job, I was going to take everything thrown my way; even observations from the law firm’s receptionist.

“It’s the bag. Even the part-time paralegals have a few good knockoffs.”

I looked down at my messenger bag and swallowed hard. I wasn’t exactly sentimental, but I was practical, and after four years in college and two in law school, I trusted the bag I’d bought at Target a lot more than a trendy one.

“Oh, right.” I straightened my posture and followed her as she led me down the hall. “I’ll keep that in mind.”