Boutique Law Firms, Litigators, My Job Is Murder

My Job Is Murder: Of Sushi and Succubi

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Ed. note: Welcome to ATL’s first foray into serial fiction. “My Job Is Murder,” a mystery set in a D.C. appellate boutique, will appear one chapter at a time, M-W-F, over the next few weeks. Prior installments appear here; please read them first.
Susanna Dokupil can be reached by email at or on Facebook.

Katarina grabbed her oversized purse and tossed a long red scarf around her neck. Tyler noticed a copy of Atlas Shrugged peeking out of it. Alignment: Libertarian. And geeky. Only true bookworms manage to slog through all 1000+-pages of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus.
“So what kind of law do you want to practice?” Tyler asked as they walked. He groaned inwardly for asking such a stock question.
“Litigation, probably appellate,” she replied. “I’m especially interested in constitutional questions.”
Tyler sensed a liberal arts background and good grades in law school. “And what was your college major?”
“Archaeology. I have my master’s degree in Near Eastern Art and Archaeology from the University of Chicago.”
Precisely, thought Tyler.

“But you decided not to get your Ph.D.?” he asked.
“No, I decided I was more interested in the present than the past. And constitutional law is just as much about piecing together how a civilization operates and thinks about itself through cases as archaeology is through artifacts. But I’ll miss summering at eastern Mediterranean excavation sites.”
They reached O Bento, a nearby sushi and sake establishment noted for its large, colorful aquarium full of coral and tropical fish. “Ooh, even a puffer fish!” exclaimed Katarina.
As they sat down, Katarina’s scarf fell across the white origami-inspired dinner napkin. Tyler thought of a red python constricting a rabbit, swallowing it head first. He was hungry.
The server’s appearance snapped him out of his fantasy. But just as they ordered, Tyler’s BlackBerry rang. It was Carol, the lead partner on his copper pipe contract matter.
Tyler cursed mentally. He knew Carol liked regular updates and quick answers, and he hadn’t checked his e-mail in, what, three hours? His chest tightened. His breathing shortened. What hadn’t he done? He couldn’t afford mistakes — he needed to hang onto this job every single day he could….
“When do you think you’ll have that brief draft finished?” she asked. “The client just called, and they’d like to see our draft two weeks ahead of the deadline instead of one because the general counsel is going on vacation. That means we have to get it to them next Wednesday, and I’ll need a few days to review our draft before it goes to them, so I guess that means I’ll need your section by noon tomorrow at the latest. Will that work?”
“Of course, Carol,” Tyler replied. Class: Senior Partner. Experience points: Untold millions. Race: Succubus, capable of summoning abysmal darkness. Such as now. Tyler’s +4 chain-mail armor and +6 vorpal laptop were useless. He surrendered.
Tyler turned to Katarina apologetically. “Mind if we get this to go? I have to get back.”
“Of course, Tyler,” she said, imitating his tone with Carol.
Susanna Dokupil is a former appellate lawyer who abandoned regular employment in favor of raising four kids. She wishes to emphasize that the resemblance of any character in “My Job Is Murder” to any actual person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. (Except for the geeky stuff. Appellate lawyers really are that geeky.)
Susanna can be reached by email at or on Facebook.

Earlier: Prior installments of My Job Is Murder

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