“A.B., you there? You there, bro? Are you there? Terri, would you find out from Kristin where the hell Alex is? He was supposed to be back from court fifteen minutes ago, and I need him right now.”

Nick Carlson’s voice annoyed the living shit out of me, and just about everyone else who had to perpetually listen to his absurdly amplified twang in our office on a daily basis. His insistence on buzzing in on young Associates’ intercom systems, by using his speakerphone, rather than lifting his telephone receiver compounded his abrasiveness.

“A.B., where you at, babe?” Now off the intercom, but still equally audible to the four secretaries and six attorneys in his quadrant of the office, he added, “God, people really gotta start stepping it up…”

“Nick, I’m here. Sorry about that.”

Actually, I really wasn’t sorry. I had just gotten back from a case management conference at Philadelphia City Hall and desperately needed to find out what was going on in the Phillies’ matinee game against the Cardinals. By the time that I had returned from the conference, the game was already in the seventh inning. Although Kristin Fabrizzio, our 28 year-old dynamo receptionist, shouted
to me on my way back in the office that the Phils were up 3-1, I needed to know the scoring details. Had Ryan Howard belted two homeruns? Was Cole Hamels in the midst of one of his doubledigit
strikeout performances? Was Nick Carlson really buzzing in on my intercom, when I had gotten into the office two minutes earlier and had just logged onto espn.com to check the goddamn

“Oh…I thought you were – never mind. My office, now!” he ordered.

When a Partner at Krauss, Carlson, Whitby, Miller and White directed an Associate Attorney into their office in such a tone, the recipient of the communication would jump to attention, straighten their tie or blouse and briskly walk down the hall to meet their fate. In the minds of Associates and support staff , Nick Carlson was the most feared of the Partners. He was what the secretaries called “a screamer.” My idea of “a screamer” was a petite, inexperienced University of Pennsylvania freshman girl who liked to loudly call out the name of The Lord while her upperclass boyfriend taught her the ways of the world. There I go, though, living in the past again…

Want more? Download the complete Chapter One.


Read a teaser and then download the entire first chapter of "The Concrete Lawyer."


Adam Barrist, a practicing attorney based in Center City Philadelphia, is licensed in the courts of Pennsylvania...


Learn about future book signings and other events...