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Michael Rhodes says he’s found the “quintessential antidote” to being a lawyer. Unfortunately, this kind of pick-me-up isn’t for everyone. His cure for day-to-day pressures is to go surfing. Almost every morning he’s on the beach by about 7 a.m., riding waves for an hour or so. “It’s relaxing, peaceful to be in the water every day with the dolphins and seabirds,” Rhodes says. “To get Zen about it, you’re able to move fluidly with energy that originates 5,000 miles away.” A couple of weeks ago, he rode 4- to 6-foot waves that began from an ice sheet in Antarctica. Like other surfing aficionados he reads weather reports to track wave size and swell direction. And he records each surfing experience in a journal. A partner in Palo Alto, Calif.-based Cooley Godward’s San Diego office, Rhodes has been surfing since he was in third or fourth grade. He grew up in San Diego, went to college at UCLA and after law school joined Los Angeles’ Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He eventually returned to San Diego and helped Cooley open an office there. During his early years as a lawyer he says he was so immersed in building a career that surfing fell by the wayside. But he picked it up again in 1990 and since then has been surfing about 200 days a year. He’s not the only surf fanatic at Cooley Godward. Most mornings he’s joined by associate Philip Tencer and paralegal Stephen Valois, as well as Chris Krueger, a former Cooley Godward associate now at San Diego-based Aurora Biosciences Corp. “Someone might feel funny giving their boss a hard time,” Tencer said. “In the water it’s no-holds-barred. And at the office we rib each other about our surfing endeavors.” It’s such an integral part of their lives that they take surfing vacations together in Costa Rica, Mexico and the Caribbean. They’ve also influenced office culture. Dress is casual every day and “fashion tends to be with a hint of surf,” Tencer says. Other attorneys have picked up the sport as well. Michelle Doolin began two years ago, Carrie Battilega started about two months ago and Meghan Spieker, a newcomer to the office, took the plunge this month. Battilega said she had wanted to try surfing for a long time. When Rhodes offered her one of his boards, she decided to go for it. Rhodes, who is 43, says the sport keeps him fit. It also can take a toll on the body. “My feet are a mess,” Rhodes says. While surfing in Mexico this year he was pushed onto rocks and landed on 200 sea urchin spines. “It was like jumping on a bunch of sewing needles,” he says. But for Rhodes the bruises are well worth it. Surfing is great fun and, for him, helps put life in perspective. Being a lawyer is “a high-stress job,” he says. “People take themselves too seriously.”

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