Wolfram & Hart
|Wolfram & Hart
Attorneys at Law
|First appearance||"City Of"
|Last appearance||"Not Fade Away"
|Created by||Joss Whedon
|Purpose||Represent the interests of the Senior Partners|
Wolfram & Hart − Attorneys at Law is a fictional, international, and interdimensional law firm featured in the television series Angel, as well as other extended materials in Joss Whedon's Buffyverse.
"The Wolf, The Ram, and The Hart" are the names of the members in an ancient trio of true demons. The group was at one point, before the dawn of human history, considered relatively insignificant, and was not regarded as a threat by the Old Ones. After humanity's triumph over the demons they remained, and slowly gained power and influence, eventually leaving this dimension altogether. In the present day on Earth they are referred to as the Senior Partners by their employees, and enact their will through various puppet organizations. One of the groups they command on Earth is the 'law firm' '"Wolfram & Hart"'.
While the Senior Partners have left Earth's dimension, the source of Wolfram & Hart's power, the Home Office, exists on Earth itself. Without the evil residing within every living person, the firm would not exist.
In the Buffy and Angel universe the firm maintains offices in many major cities throughout the world. However, the only branch offices featured in the television series are in Los Angeles and Rome (both have identical interiors); in Italy the firm is known as Wolfram e Hart.
The earthly manifestation of one of the Senior Partners is slain by Angel in the Los Angeles branch, in the episode "Reprise".
In Angel: After the Fall, the canonical comic book continuation of the television series, the Wolfram and Hart office buildings have retroactively vanished; the site is now being used for the construction of a "Doublemeat Palace" facility, and few people remember that there ever was a WR&H branch there. In the Spike (2010–11) series however, Spike later observes that a Wolfram & Hart branch has sprung up in the heart of Las Vegas, Nevada. The Senior Partners reveal to Spike that they are aware of a coming apocalypse in which they have no part (referencing the events of Dark Horse Comics' Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight), and have built themselves a special space ship. They use the ship to flee from the universe in the final issue of the series.
The organisation crossed over into Buffy for the first time in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine #11 (2012), when social media entrepreneur Theo Daniels hires vampire slayers Buffy and Kennedy to protect him from the firm during a trip to San Francisco. Wolfram & Hart were revealed to have funded Daniels' TinCan social networking website on the condition they could install demonic technology into it, in the event that the coming apocalypse in Season Eight was averted but resulted in a world without magic, as it did-leaving the firm cut off from Earth. Buffy and Kennedy destroy TinCan's servers and avert Wolfram & Hart's return to this dimension.
As a law firm, Wolfram & Hart typically defends unscrupulous and detestable clients, including stalkers, mobsters, murderers, corrupt senators, and a number of demonic individuals and groups. While many of these clients are rich or powerful, the firm is also known to work some cases pro bono, especially when it has a secondary interest in the client. The firm also maintains departments of Real Estate; Entertainment; Science; Research and Intelligence; and Interment Acquisitions (the firm's term for grave robbery).
In addition to the many legal functions the firm performs, Wolfram & Hart also maintains a Special Projects Division. Special Projects is responsible for a wide range of activities, from sponsoring high-profile charity events with the intention of stealing upwards of 95% of the funds raised, to hiring assassins to kill individuals deemed threatening to the Senior Partners. At the Los Angeles branch, Special Projects devotes a considerable amount of attention to Angel. According to prophecies, Angel is destined to play a key role in the Apocalypse, but it is not known which side he will take. The Special Projects division is committed to ensuring Angel will be on their side when the prophecy is fulfilled. Among the resources at the division's disposal is a heavily armed special ops team, which carries out operations such as kidnapping at the firm's behest. Marcus Hamilton claims that the patentholder for cancer is a client of theirs.
Wolfram & Hart is known for its unforgiving treatment of its employees. The firm conducts random sweeps of employees, using telepaths to find workers who are disloyal to the company they pledged to work for. When discovered, these individuals are often executed on the spot. The Senior Partners are reputed to have forced employees to eat their own liver if unhappy with their performance. In another instance, several employees were reported to have been sacked with actual sacks. They have also permitted employees to execute and replace their superiors in light of poor performance, and it was said by Knox that on at least one occasion they literally fired an employee ("He was set on fire.").
Every 75 years, the firm conducts a review of its employees. During the Review, a Senior Partner takes corporeal form to punish employees who have shown unfavorable performance. Many employees live in fear of the Review, and in the days preceding it do whatever they can to endear themselves to the Senior Partners, including animal and human sacrifices.
However, departmental heads at Wolfram & Hart can use discretion when dealing with insubordination. If a manager thinks highly enough of an employee, he or she may decide to forgo punishment in favor of a second chance.
As mentioned by Harmony Kendall, there is also a 'Non-Human Resources Department' specifically committed to their numerous demonic and vampiric employees.
Since many of the employees and clients of Wolfram & Hart are non-human, many amenities are offered within the building, ranging from special catering for non-traditional palates, blood is also kept "on tap" for those who need it (which was changed to animal blood after Angel's group took over operations). All the windows in the building are made of "Necro-Tempered" type-glass that blocks the fatal effects of sunlight and UV rays so that Vampires can walk around the building free from accidental immolation throughout the day.
Circle of the Black Thorn
The members of the circle act as the earthly instruments of the Senior Partners, charged with being the driving force behind Wolfram & Hart's apocalyptic plans and dedicated to keeping the wheel of "man's inhumanity to man" perpetually spinning. The members of the Circle do this not from a belief in evil per se, but because being a Black Thorn allows them to amass power for themselves and wield that power with impunity.
The Circle's lineup in 2004 is: Archduke Sebassis; Senator Helen Brucker; Cyvus Vail; Ed, Grand Potentate of the Fell Brethren; the leader of the Sahrvin Clan; Izzerial the Devil; and three other men whose names were never mentioned. Their latest recruit was Angel, who pretended to have been corrupted by Wolfram & Hart in order to infiltrate the circle and assassinate its members. After Angel and his team kill all members of the circle, the Senior Partners send an army of demons to destroy them as vengeance. As seen in comic book continuation Angel: After the Fall, the Senior Partners sent all of Los Angeles to Hell as a punishment.
Los Angeles branch
The Los Angeles branch of Wolfram & Hart is founded in 1791 over holy ground de-consecrated through a ritual employing the blood of serial murderer Matthias Pavayne, who is able to survive as a spirit in the building for over 200 years. The branch is notable because it operates in the same city as Angel, who becomes the focus of many W&H projects. Several attorneys whose duties focus on Angel—Lindsey McDonald, Lee Mercer, Lilah Morgan, Linwood Murrow—all share the same initials.
In 2003, the Los Angeles branch of Wolfram & Hart is destroyed by The Beast after it launched a brutal assault on their offices and then slaughtered almost everyone else in the city who worked for the company. The building is quickly rebuilt (and somehow managed to replace the staff extremely quickly), and Angel is offered stewardship of the branch by their now-deceased employee Lilah Morgan, ostensibly as a reward for preventing world peace. In reality, the Senior Partners hope to turn Angel to their side, and keep him from recognizing the firm's apocalypse already in progress. Angel accepts the offer on one condition: in exchange, Wolfram & Hart agrees to alter his son Connor's memories and place him with a loving family. The remaining members of Angel Investigations also join Wolfram & Hart, assuming control of various departments.
Angel struggles with the moral ambiguities of his position as branch manager. While he is able to make some changes to the business, such as firing the more evil employees and instituting a zero tolerance policy on killing humans, he must keep the business profitable in order to maintain control of the branch. As a result Angel must keep his often immoral clientele happy through creative solutions to their problems that best fit his understanding of doing good. After running the branch for months, Angel and the others disrupt the Senior Partners' plans by killing all of the members of the Circle of the Black Thorn, the Partners' major representatives on Earth, effectively destroying their influence and stalling the plans of the Partners. Next, during a battle between Angel and Liaison to the Senior Partners Marcus Hamilton, the Los Angeles branch collapses.
Within the Wolfram & Hart solicitor's building, one can enter 'The White Room'. This is an interdimensional space that serves as a "Conduit" to the Senior Partners—it is the most direct line to them, but it requires speaking through an intermediary. The 'Room' is accessed by pressing a certain sequence of buttons on an elevator panel. If conditions are met, the elevator doors open and a blinding light transports the occupants to the White Room.
When it is first visited by Angel, the room is occupied by a small girl named Mesektet, the most malevolent member of the Ra-Tet, a family of mystic beings. When Angel visits the Room looking for the demon Sahjhan, the girl offers a brief history on the demon. When Wolfram & Hart falls under siege by The Beast, Angel and his group find their only refuge in the White Room; they arrive just in time to see The Beast draining the dark energies from Mesektet, killing her. Before her death, she transports the group back to the Hyperion Hotel before The Beast can kill them as well.
When the employees of Angel Investigations are offered positions at Wolfram & Hart, Charles Gunn is taken to the White Room as part of his personalized tour. To his surprise, he is greeted by a black panther; the new Conduit's form is determined by the viewer. During his tenure with Wolfram & Hart, Gunn makes use of the Conduit when he has exhausted all other resources. When Gunn visits in search of a way to save Fred's life, he encounters a mirror image of himself, who viciously beats him for his insolence in using the Room for his own convenience.
In addition to its operations on Earth, Wolfram & Hart maintains a presence in a number of other dimensions.
The region of the extradimensional world of Pylea, visited by Angel Investigations, is ruled by priests known as the Covenant of Trombli. This group possesses a trio of holy texts emblazoned with a wolf, a ram, and a hart (male red deer) respectively, a hint that reveals to Cordelia and the others that they shouldn't trust the Covenant. The Covenant has since been overthrown after Cordelia kills the main priest Silas, and the full extent of Wolfram & Hart's influence on Pylea or in other dimensions is unknown; however, there are assumed to be many more, as Angel tells Spike in "A Hole in the World": "Wolfram & Hart has branches in every major city in the world, and a lot more out of it."
Series creator Joss Whedon has described why Wolfram & Hart was created as the ideal antagonist for the show's setting and tone:
|“||[Actor Christian Kane as Lindsey McDonald] embodies what we wanted for our villains, which is a group of young, go-getter lawyers who are just evil incarnate, working for a great conglomerate. Rather than have The Master, or some seeable villain as we had on Buffy, to have an entire corporation: just sort of an unseen, all-encompassing, 'we make the bad world run' L.A. kind of corporation be the villain.||”|
- The distinctive exterior of the Wolfram & Hart offices seen in the first four seasons of the series is actually the Sony Pictures Plaza, located in Culver City, California.
- The exterior shots in season five are of the Arco Center towers in Long Beach, California.
- The interior of the Los Angeles branch seen in "Home" is actually a large business complex in Thousand Oaks, California.
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