The law firm of Castor, Makepeace, & Pollux is not one of the oldest firms in Atlanta, but it has two of the most prestigious attorneys in town. Lucius Castor is a former state and superior court judge who also served as district attorney in Fulton County in the early-70s. His partner, Dalton Pollux, was once his fierce rival, a high profile attorney who represented many of the defendants Castor was prosecuting. When Castor stepped down as a judge to enter private practice, he was convinced he and Dalton could overcome their differences and forge a successful partnership. This assumption proved false and after several years of conflicting managerial styles, the compromise they settled on was to alternate their time in the office so they were never there together and to promote Kristian Makepeace, their young associate, to partner, and give her responsibility for managing operations. It wasn’t the first time she had taken advantage of her history with the Judge to advance her career.
Kristian was a good student who imagined herself leaving Georgia to attend college. Her father was a very successful attorney in town, with one major flaw, which was his gambling addiction. This had been less of a problem while his wife was alive, since she kept him in check by threatening to divorce him and take the kids. She died when Kristian was just about to start high school, and without her influence, Gavin Makepeace began making disastrous decisions with his family’s resources. One was to bet on the Falcons winning the Super Bowl in 1991, with what should have been Kristian’s college fund. Most fans of the Falcons know why that’s not a safe bet.
Left without the funds necessary to attend a private college in the Northeast, Kristian instead qualified for scholarships that allowed her to attend Georgia State University, closer to home. She also assumed the lion’s share of looking out for her younger brother, Jimmy, who has Downs Syndrome and who’s been mainstreamed most of his life. Despite the added responsibility, Kristian went on to be accepted into the College of Law at GSU. Everyone in her graduating class passed the bar exam on their first try.
It was through her father that Kristian met Judge Castor. Gavin had argued cases before the Judge and maintained a cordial relationship with him outside the courtroom and the Judge had been a guest at their home several times. One Christmas, when Kristian was a still a senior, pre-law student, Judge Castor cornered her in the downstairs family room during a party and attempted a clumsy pass at her. Kristian, a lesbian, who also admired the Judge, was shocked at the advances and read him the riot act. Flustered by her reaction, Judge Castor claimed to be mortified at his behavior and managed to convince her not to call him out at the party. A few days later, he invited her to his office to try to defuse the situation.
“Surely, there’s something I could do to make this right,” he said.
Kristian had already decided to make her father aware of the situation, and possibly talk to the press. Seeing how conciliatory the Judge was acting, though, she instead hit upon another idea.
“Are you still looking for a clerk?”
“I am,” he said. “I will gratefully accept any recommendation you might have.”
“Then you’re looking at her,” she said.
“But you’re not even in law school,” he said.
“A minor technicality. I’ve been accepted at GSU and start next Fall.”
“That position is usually reserved for a second term student.”
“Well this time, you’re making an exception,” she replied. “But don’t think this means I’m letting you off the hook for what you did. This just keeps me from going to my father about it.”
“Very well,” Judge Castor said. “I’ll have to find a way to explain it to the other candidates.”
“Explain it however you want; that’s not my problem. Anymore crap like you pulled at my house and that will be the least of your worries.”
Her selection rankled several applicants for the position, but Kristian proved to be a hard worker and a quick study, who didn’t concern herself with the criticism, and largely let the Judge handle it.
While initially wary of working in close proximity to the Judge, over time, Kristian forged a mutually beneficial working relationship with him. She remained with him throughout law school and went along when he entered private practice after she was admitted to the bar. She also got along well with Dalton, and as the relationship between the partners deteriorated, Kristian became the leading conduit between them. Since neither was a very effective manager, she ended up taking on the responsibility, and eventually was rewarded by being named managing partner.
It’s in this capacity that Kristian sets her sights on winning a large client account. When real estate developer Paxton Walker died in 2010, his oldest daughter, Leah, became the administrator of his estate. She’s largely managed it on her own, employing a young attorney to help her with legal filings. Given the size and complexity of Paxton’s estate, however, Kristian knows it’s only a matter of time before Leah turns affairs over to one of the many law firms that have been soliciting her. Kristian decides to be the winning bid and to that end, she’s offered to meet the only stipulation Leah attached to her agreement to meet, that the firm find a place for the young attorney working with her, Steven Asher. Kristian doesn’t have a problem with the request, but she asks that Steven join them when she makes her pitch to Leah to get a better feel for his abilities.