Being the first female partner at Rose Law Firm, the most prestigious law firm in the South, is no ordinary feat. And so, it takes an extraordinary woman to accomplish this. This, it is no question that anationally-profiled Wellesley alum, Yale Law grad and women and civil right advocate to take this title.
Hillary Rodham, one of the smartest and strong-willed attorney in Arkansas legal circles, became thefirst woman to be invited as a partner of Rose Law firm when she descended to Arkansas from herhometown in Chicago to pursue what she hoped to be a life with the man she thought was the love ofher life. Sadly, it didn't go well. But when God closes the door, He opens a window. The partners of the firm saw her brilliance and invited her to join them, first as an associate and then not long after, a partner. Hillary felt no desire to go to New York or to DC, or even go back to Chicago. Despite her heartbreak, she had found her place in Arkansas.
One humid summer day in 1980, Hillary huddles inside her office, the electric fan blasting her face with hot air as she fans herself while reading the court ruling on a Colorado man suing his employer for overtime pay. This case is similar to the one is currently handling.
A knock interrupts her silent reading. She removes her glasses and her assistant opens the door. The assistant announces that the governor of Arkansas is outside and wishes to have a meeting with her. Knowing how persistent and stubborn the governor is, Hillary deems it pointless to deny him entry.She tells her assistant to let him in.
Then emerges the handsome form of Bill Clinton, the governor of Arkansas who was also Hillary's ex-boyfriend. Yes, that same ex-boyfriend who she thought she was going to marry but didn't because she found him fooling around with another woman, a daughter of a wealthy owner of a tobacco plantation and a prominent Democratic donor. Hillary often muses that she could have been First Lady of Arkansas, but being a liberal woman raised in Chicago, the people of Arkansas will surely object to someone like her. In a way, it is a blessing that she and Bill didn't work out.
"Ah, Governor. Can't say I am expecting you," Hillary says.
"I apologize if I came to see you in a short notice," Bill replies. "I hope I am not interrupting anything."
“Not at all," Hillary lies, "please, take a seat."
Bill obliges and takes a seat in front of her. Hillary fixes her glasses and surveys him. He looks leaner than when they were dating, but his jawline is very much the same. But his blue eyes lack the fire that she used to see a long time ago.
"What can I do for you?" Hillary says, closing the binder that she was reading.
Bill sighs. "I'll be brief: My marriage with Hattie is falling apart and she's asked for a divorce."
Hillary raises a brow. "So you're looking for a divorce lawyer?"
"Yes," he says, looking away.
Hillary removes her glasses and leans on her armchair, her hands on a steeple. "I can't say I am surprised."
"I know," Bill mutters, his eyes not meeting hers.
"You are fooling around again?" she asks.
"Yeah," he confesses, "but only after I caught her first."
Bill knows that look. Even after years had passed since they had broken up, Hillary knows him like the back of her hand.
"Fine. She wasn't cheating on me. I was," he confesses. "But she's not exactly Little Miss Perfect."
"That's not a reason for you to cheat on anyone, Bill," she looks at him through her glasses. "In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, 'til death do us part..."
Bill sighs. "I know, I know. It's just...I am unhappy, you know?"
"Did she know that you are unhappy?"
"I think she knows, but we never talk about it."
"Why not? She's your wife. She deserves to know about it."
Bill surveys her. He remembers how he always tell Hillary about, well, everything. He could do that to Hillary because he felt that he could tell her everything without being judged. Hattie, on the other hand,is very different. Too different.
"Well, I could. But after she found out about my infidelity, she said she had enough. She wanted no more of this marriage," he sighs.
"But what about you? Do you still want to be in the marriage?"
Bill shakes his head. "No. I shouldn't have entered in the first place. I asked her to marry me just so I can prove to myself that I moved on but I knew I haven't."
Hillary hears what Bill meant loud and clear, but chooses to ignore it. She removes her glasses and folded her hands in a steeple, thinking hard. "Bill, you know the judges in here are going to want you to exhaust all means to save your marriage. I am sure Hattie's lawyers told her that too."
"Hattie says she will insist that she doesn't want to go through the pain of being with me in the same room," Bill says. "That's how bad it is."
Hillary wishes that she could feel a little more sympathy for Bill, but she can't. But that doesn't mean that her lack of sympathy for Bill will impair her ability to give him a sound legal advice.
"Well then, I assume that you want my services then?"
Bill nods meekly. "I know this is awkward, but yeah."
"Alright," Hillary puts her glasses back on. "I charge $200 an hour."
Bill's face is drained of color. He gulps.
"I-I-I...I can't afford that. Hattie has the purse. My salary as governor cannot afford that rate."
Hillary shrugs. "I do pro bono work but it is for poor people only. Perhaps you can take a loan?"
"I wish I could but I maxed out my credit," Bill replies. "I used the money to pay for Mama's hospital bills.She had surgery a few months ago."
Hillary bites her lip. She had forgotten that Virginia was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to haveher breasts removed. She has now realized what a deep hole Bill dug himself into. But that isn't to say that she is surprised.
"So let me get this straight," she surveys him from head to toe, "you want me to be your divorce lawyer for free."
"I was hoping, yeah," he says, fidgeting in his seat.
Hillary shakes his head. "I follow a code, Bill. I do not give free legal assistance to people I know whohave the capacity to pay. The time I spend on your case will be much better utilized if I take on a casewhich involves my passion: the welfare of women and children. You are taking away precious legal resources from people who are in more need of my assistance than you. I am sorry but you will have to pay the fee. And if you're going to convince me to take your because 'for old time's sake', well that is probably the worst pitch you can give me."
"What if I incur the bill and pay you later?" Bill asks, desperate to get Hillary on board.
"What will be your collateral, then?" she asks. She feels a little bit of pity towards Bill but she must not be swayed by her sympathy for him.
Bill looks crestfallen as he replies, "I have none. Our house is Hattie's. Her father's wedding gift to us. To her, rather."
She remains silent, letting her expression tell him that the answer remains NO.
"Please, Hillary," he begs. "I'll do anything. I mean it. Whatever you want. You name the terms. You want me to come back with you, I'll do it. You want to fuck me, I'll do it. I mean anything."
Hillary leans back on her armchair, not saying anything. Bill looks at her, longing for an answer that never comes.
"Aren't you going to say something? Anything?"
"First," Hillary says crossing her arms, "why would I want you back? You haven't changed. Second, whywould I want to sleep with you? Been there, done that. Third, I represent you here – give you roughlythirty grand in legal services – and you sleep with me once? Christ, I don't know how good you think you are nowadays, but pros charge $500 a night. I know, I've represented them."
He sees a glimmer of hope. "So if we could work out an arrangement, then maybe..."
Hillary shakes her head. "No Bill, we couldn't. It's unethical, and I have no reason to believe you won't report me. And you, of all people, are the motherfucking governor of this state. One word of this arrangement and it is impeachment for you."
His hands fly across the table and grabs Hillary's right hand. "Hillary, set your terms. I don't care what they are, just set them. I won't tell anyone, swear to God I won't."
Hillary takes a deep breath and starts thinking. It takes a few minutes, but the puzzle starts coming together nicely.
"All right, Bill, here's how it'll work. You'll get billed at the normal rates. You will be billed every two weeks. You will come to my house the first Saturday night following your receipt of the bill. Got it?"
She looks at her. After a moment, he nods.
"You have, of course the right to review your bills. If there's anything you think is unfair or not proper,we will discuss it and negotiate a resolution. I will be absolutely fair on this point, treat you just like I do to all of my other clients. Okay?"
Again, he nods. However, he was getting nervous, waiting for the hammer to fall.
"For every thousand dollars on that bill you owe me, you will spend a Saturday night at my house. With me. Doing, as you say it, anything."
His eyes open wide. "But that could be..."
"Exactly," she says, "that could be a lot of Saturday nights. And you can't get behind in your bill, either.So if the bill is two grand, you've got to spend the next two Saturday nights after getting the bill."
"But that's not fair," he objects. "That's not what I proposed."
"No, it's not. But it's what I propose. And it's fair. I'm essentially paying you twice what a hooker would get, so the terms are actually more than fair."
Bill looks at Hillary, stunned. He was shocked that she called him a hooker. "I don't know if I can commit to that."
Hillary ignores him. "When you are done spending the nights required, I will give you cash equal to thenights - two nights, two grand. You will then get a money order payable to Rose and pay the bill with the money I give you. Understand?"
"Second," she continues, "anything means just what it says: anything. Understand?"
He pauses and nods again.
"If you break the rules, then the deal is over. I will withdraw as your attorney. You have no evidence ofour arrangement and Hattie will destroy your political career in a snap."
Despite her steely demeanor, Hillary's eyes soften.
"But for old times' sake, I'll get started right away," she says. "I'll give you time to decide until the firstgrand is billed. When you agree to my terms, you shall come to my house and obey everything I say. Ifnot, I'll waive the bill but I will withdraw immediately as your attorney."
Bill nods, finally accepting Hillary's terms.