Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) is a young man from an impoverished background, but with a promising future in law. About to graduate from Harvard Law School he receives a generous job offer from a small law firm specialising in accounting and tax law.
Avery Tolar (Gene Hackman) one of the senior partners becomes Mitch's mentor and helps seduce Mitch into the lucrative lifestyle of the dodgy firm. Mitch's wife has suspicions.
Mitch passes the bar exam and begins working long hours that put a strain on his marriage. Working closely with Avery, Mitch learns that most of the Firm's work involves helping wealthy clients hide large amounts of money in off-shore shell corporations and other dubious tax-avoidance schemes. While on a business trip Mitch is seduced by a local woman and cheats on Abby. Actually this encounter is a photographed set-up made for the firm's sinister security chief, Bill DeVasher (Wilford Brimley), who later uses Mitch's tryst with that woman as blackmail to keep him quiet about such tax evasions and whatever illegal financial transactions.
Mitch realises he is now trapped, but after two associates of the firm die under mysterious circumstances, he is approached by FBI agents who inform him that while some of the business is legitimate, their biggest client is the Morolto Mafia family from Chicago. The firm's partners, as well as most of the associates, are all complicit in a massive tax fraud and money laundering scheme. The two associates who died learned about the firm's dark side, and were killed to keep them from talking. They warn Mitch that his house, car, and office have probably all been bugged. The FBI pressures Mitch to provide the Bureau with evidence they can use to go after the Moroltos and bring down the law firm. Mitch knows he faces a stark choice. If he works with the FBI, he believes that even if he stays alive, he will have to disclose information about the firm's legitimate clients—thus breaking the attorney-client priveledge and risking disbarment. However, the FBI warns him that if he stays with the firm, he will almost certainly go to jail when the FBI takes down both the firm and the Moroltos. Either way, his life as he knows it is over, and he agrees to cooperate with the FBI. Mitch begins secretly copying the Firm's billing records.
Late one evening while supposedly working late Mitch has a big pile of files to photocopy. The camera cues to a shot of De Vasher arriving in his car then back to Mitch. Mitch boots up the photocopier which, as usual takes several minutes to warm up. Mitch is getting a bit nervous but finally is able to start the copying. The camera cues to De Vasher coming into the downstairs lobby and walking towards the lifts.
Mitch is photocopying when the machine runs out of paper. He curses and rummages about the stationery cupboard to find more paper. The camera cues to De Vasher ascending in the lift.
Mitch loads the machine with a ream of paper and presses the start button again. A few copies spit out before the machine jams. Mitch frantically tries to free the jammed paper while the photocopying machine's screen flashes out a fault message.
De Vasher comes along the corridor, sees Mitch at the machine with all of the secret documents and shoots him dead.
Not all films assume that computers, cellphones and photocopiers work instantly and properly though. See here: THE CASTLE- PHOTOCOPIER