The paper clips get dumped into one pile. The pens are sorted into another. A woman pushes a metal cart from office to office on the fiftieth floor of Seattle’s Two Union Square office tower and opens desk drawers and scoops up anything of marginal worth. The scavenge operation at Bogle & Gates is meticulous.

A few lawyers are tying up loose ends on this day in late March, packing boxes or making phone calls. The reception area, with its awesome panorama of the snowy Cascade Mountains, looks surprisingly normal, except that the potted plants are marked with Day-Glo orange tape. The streams of plastic, used by the plant-leasing company to claim its property, resemble the bright tape used at an accident scene.

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