In Manhattan, an elderly lawyer's business is growing. Having two scriveners in his employ, the lawyer advertises for a third to meet demand. Enter Bartleby, a glum albeit quality scrivener. However, the lawyer quickly discovers that something is off with his new employee. When asked to perform any duties outside of copying, Bartleby responds with a canned "I would prefer not to." Soon Bartleby is living at the office and performing less and less at work.
Finally fed up with his strange new scrivener, the lawyer asks Bartleby to leave, only to find himself on the receiving end of yet another "I would prefer not to."