Dr Wolfgang Becker, Rechtsanwalt, solicitor and a partner in Muttley Dastardly LLP, was originally admitted to The Partnership to leverage the value of marriage failure among the seriously rich business and celebrity sectors. In but two months he has billed ‘comfortably into seven figures’. For reasons of taste, discretion and taxation, The Partners of Muttley Dastardly LPP never reveal financial information to the Press.
Today, I met with Dr Wolffgang Becker in his well appointed office on the fifth floor. I was surprised by the design of the office which comprises of two staircases leading down to a central hall. Two high backed Chippendale chairs were placed opposite each other by the wall facing a vase of flowers. There was no sign of any office paraphernalia, no computers, nothing to give the impression that I was in a leading family lawyer’s office.
Dr Becker appeared from the left hand staircase, dressed in a black linen Nehru suit and a pair of tassled black suede loafers. He wore yellow socks. Clipped and precise, he shook my hand, asked for my Amex card and then remembered that I was not a client, but was visiting for the purpose of an interview to gain an insight into the mind of a man who was at the very forefront of the world of family law in the new era of the Legal Services Act.
“Old habits die hard” he said laconically as he invited me to take the chair opposite. “Would you like some champagne or coffee? Tea perhaps? We have many types of tea here. It is not a drink I care for myself, but many of our clients are English and they often find solace in taking tea while they brief me on their ideas for divorce and, more importantly for them and ourselves, the financial arrangements.”
I accepted his offer of a glass of champagne. Within ten seconds a butler arrived with two glasses of champagne. He seemed to appear from nowhere, but in fact entered through the door at the end of the central hall beyond the flowers.
“I’m impressed” I said. “You didn’t appear to give any instructions.”
Dr Becker smiled and waved his hand dismissively. “Everything is recorded here. My staff are listening in. It is so much easier to have a precise record on digital file, wouldn’t you agree?
“Your record with high value clients is impressive Dr Becker” I said, rising to the occasion by not referring to any of the notes I had made earlier. “But tell me, why is Muttley Dastardly LLP entering the mass divorce market at a time when family lawyers are feeling the pinch, when legal aid is being cut, when family law barristers say they can no longer afford to take on cases?”
“You have answered your own question Herr Professor Doctor Charon.” Dr Becker replied, clearly mistaking me for my rather tedious brother, Professor RD Charon PHD, FRSA “It is precisely because the general practitioner in this country is abandoning this sector that we feel we can …. shall we say….. hoover it all up and by using the internet, call centres in India and cheap but highly effective lawyers in India, who are becoming more and more expert in English Law….maximise the profit.”
“Do you have a brand name for this new divorce service?” I asked, draining my glass. Within seconds the butler appeared with a second glass of champagne on a silver tray. I took it without demurring and thanked the butler for his attentiveness.
“Ja! Of course. Megaladon is the vehicle we use for all our mass market law operations, personal injury, negligence, conveyancing…. I wanted to call it Megaladon with your wife or husband?, but Matt Muttley, our CEO, thought the humour was just too black even for us. He was probably right.”
I managed to suppress the hysteria rising from the very core of my being, drained the second glass in one and asked “And how do you make your money?”
“We accept a range of credit cards Herr Professor. Do you have any other questions?”
Before I could reply, the butler appeared with a bill for £52 + 12.5% service. He handed me the portable credit card machine and smiled. There is no need to leave a gratuity, Sir. Service is included.”
Dr Becker smiled “Good champagne, Ja….? I’m sure you will be able to get it back on expenses. There are no free lunches in life, Herr Professor Dr Charon, and certainly there aren’t at Muttley Dastardly LLP. As there is not an opportunity to bill for your time with me today, we have to cover the costs. £52 for three and a half minutes is well below what I would ordinarily charge, of course – but it has been a pleasure to meet you. Give my regards to your brother Charon QC… Tell him that I was so fascinated with his new iCharonphone. Most useful. It will be most useful for our work here and, quite possibly for personal use also. It has been a pleasure to meet you.”
With that, Dr Becker was gone. He seemed to glide, rather than walk. I smiled as he went up the staircase on the right and thought to myself… “How marvellously Germanic… one staircase for down, one for up.” The £52 I paid for the champagne was worth every penny. I should be able to recover this ‘disbursement’ from Matt Muttley when we meet as Ascot later this week. I, too, have one of those portable credit card reading devices. I shall be taking it with me to Ascot. One must, after all, be prepared.