Read The Recorder‘s roundup of the stock-option backdating scandal. There won’t be a test later … but there might be a subpoena.
“I think some people, probably mainly men, think that working with your spouse would be difficult because personal conflicts would infect the business environment,” Rehon said. “I think that would be true in any business with partners who do not get along personally. � I think with a good relationship, just the opposite is true.”
Unlike Bayer and Borlase, Rehon and Roberts talk little at the office.
“We work really independently,” Rehon said. “We’re both very focused at work. I’ll save issues and questions for certain times in the evening and early in the morning when we sit down and talk.”
‘Some people � think that working with your spouse would be difficult � I think with a good relationship, just the opposite is true.’
� PETER REHON,
who runs a boutique firm with wife Lisa Roberts
Because their practices are so similar and they talk so much at home about work-related issues, the classic disconnect faced by spouses in different professions is moot for them, Rehon added. “If I have to work late, she totally understands,” he said. “You don’t have the typical husband and wife, not understanding what the other is going through. If Lisa’s working late, I know why it’s important.”
Retired superior court Judge James Warren, now a JAMS mediator, said some firms have “anti-marriage policies” because a frank exchange of ideas can be compromised if married partners put domestic harmony before candor.
Discussions about what discovery to file, how to depose a witness and what order witnesses ought to go in are rife with disagreement, he said, and emotions can run high.
“Often at a law firm you can take a fairly blunt tone if a disagreement comes up,” Warren said. “I often wonder if it would be more difficult for a husband and wife to disagree with one another because once you’re done at the office, you have to cook spaghetti together.”
TRUSTING YOUR PARTNER
Mary and Kevin McCurdy have been married for more than 20 years. Since 2003, they have been running a litigation firm based in Menlo Park, employing three partners and eight associates.
Both have experience working at bigger firms and have witnessed meetings where discord kept partners from making a decision. “I think it’s easier with your spouse because you know your spouse better than other partners, so you’re more in tune with their thinking and you’re able to reach consensus easier,” Mary McCurdy said.
Her husband agreed. “Mary and I usually are on the same page on hiring. We tend to have the same reaction when we meet and interview somebody.”
When they have a hard time reaching a decision, Kevin McCurdy said their Southern California partner, Vanci Fuller, plays the role of tiebreaker. But that doesn’t happen very often, according to Fuller.
Not everyone can or wants to mix the public and private.
It didn’t take much for Covington & Burling corporate securities partner Bruce Deming to figure out that working with his male partner was not their cup of tea. While clerking for Boston judges in 1993, he and his partner wrote an article together, evaluating whether affirmative action as a remedy for discrimination could be applied to lesbians and gay men.
It was “quite difficult,” Deming said. The two had different writing styles, and different views about the analysis and conclusions. The article wasn’t a disaster and there was no yelling, he said, laughing, but the “quiet, boiling rage” he felt signaled that it would be better to keep personal and professional separated.
“Taking care of the relationship is often more important than being right,” Deming said. “And in the practice of law, getting things right is more important than necessarily being genteel or taking care of the feelings of the person you’re working with. They’re different objectives.”