The lawyer is much easier to know, and not just because the story is told from his perspective, in his voice. He is not a difficult person to understand: he's a pretty normal guy, sort of middle-of-the-road. He is not terribly ambitious... he has no desire to be a hotshot criminal lawyer involved in sensational court cases. He prefers the more sedate, comfortable, and non-confrontational realm of civil law: bonds, legacies, etc. This is not to say that he does not desire his business to be successful- obviously he does: for example, he is extremely pleased that the illustrious Mr.Astor once spoke well of him, taking care to mention it. Also, it is ultimately his worry about the damage his disturbing scrivener will do to his practice's reputation, not his personal inconvenience, which causes him to attempt to rid himself of Bartleby.
It is this sympathy for his scrivener which causes the lawyer's inner conflict. His self-interest demands that he cut all ties with Bartleby, but his conscience recoils at the thought of making the man's life any more wretched than it already is. After he decamps to the new office with his other employees, it is his sense of guilt which causes him to put off checking on Bartleby, not wishing to witness the man's downward spiral. And yet, the lawyer does not have much to reproach himself with in his dealings with Bartleby. He hired the man as a scrivener, and is remarkably tolerant of his new employee's gradual refusal to do more and more of the tasks in his job description. He also takes no punitive action when he discovers that the man is clandestinely living at the law office. Rather, his response is concern for his clerk, and a desire to help him. Even when he is forced to fire Bartleby, he can't bring himself to take the quite justifiable step of having the scrivener forcibly ejected from the premises, in the end removing himself and his practice from the scene with much personal inconvenience and, no doubt, expense. Then, when Bartleby's continuing eccentric behaviour brings trouble to the lawyer's new door, he still does not deal harshly with the man. Rather, he tries to reason with him, offering to find him a new job, and when Bartleby will not comply, even offering to let his former clerk live at his house. And when he finds that Bartleby has been taken to jail, the lawyer takes it upon himself to visit him, to speak to the authorities in his defense, and pay to ensure that he is well cared for. In the end, however, he is able neither to reach or help Bartleby.
After Bartleby's death, the lawyer discovers that the scrivener previously worked in the Dead Letter office. He speculates that such employment, dealing with and disposing of letters which were undeliverable- mainly due to the recipients' deaths- may have adversely affected Bartleby's mental state, prone as it already was to depression and hopelessness. It isn't much, but it is the only explanation he can come up with, having no further information to work with. The lawyer seems unable dismiss the unfortunate scrivener from his thoughts, and it is much the same for the reader. This story lingers in the memory, and after reading it, I found it popping into my mind at various points during the day as I tried to puzzle out the enigma which was Bartleby. I think this is why the story is such a memorable one, because the behaviour of Bartleby is so difficult to comprehend. Most people want to live life to the fullest, not simply passively endure it, which makes it that much harder to accept that someone would deliberately shut down his life and eventually end it, for no identifiable reason. In the end, it is perhaps necessary to accept that there is no explanation, and like the lawyer, simply lament the senseless waste of a life: "Ah, Bartleby! Ah, humanity!"