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Practitioners who have successfully mixed family and business by launching firms with siblings, children or spouses say the arrangement can’t be beat. “No one loves you like family,” G. Lawrence DeMarco of Philadelphia’s DeMarco & DeMarco said. “No one treats you the way a family member treats you, and to have that type of environment at work is such a special situation to have. … That’s clearly the most significant advantage of a family firm.” Lawrence, in partnership with his brother, James DeMarco Jr., is carrying on the legacy of his father, the late James DeMarco Sr., who founded the firm as a solo practitioner in 1959. Lawrence said continuing the firm after his father’s death has meant that he and James — despite being siblings — support rather than compete with each other. When one family member excels, the family excels, Lawrence said. He said nothing an individual does is more important than the family, which is the firm’s mantra. Lawrence spent two summers during law school working with his father before joining his father’s practice after graduating from Villanova University School of Law in 1993. Father and son continued practicing together until James Sr. died, in 2001. Lawrence joked about how, in order to spend quality time with his father, he used to agree to fishing trips during summer weekends at the Jersey Shore, even though he was not particularly fond of his father’s favored activity. When the two began working together, the fishing trips ceased, since work fulfilled the need to spend time together, Lawrence said. Lawrence said working with his father was not entirely a bed of roses, however. After James Sr.’s death, Lawrence realized the extent to which his father, despite recognizing his competency as a lawyer, viewed him as dad’s “little boy” practicing law, the attorney said. Lawrence said he did not emerge from James Sr.’s shadow until he began practicing without him. It is a paradox that a personal tragedy — his father’s death — became a significant springboard for personal growth, Lawrence said. James DeMarco told The Legal Intelligencer he agreed with his brother’s assessment of their teamwork: Lawrence is the boisterous risk-taker, while James offers a mellow, more conservative approach to matters. Both said that their complementary personalities work out perfectly and that they would not trade their current work environment for any other. Similarly to the DeMarco brothers, Carole Cleere of Cleere & Cleere in Wynnewood, Pa., who practices with her husband, Brian, said combining business and family had worked out wonderfully. According to Carole, one advantage of practicing with her husband is that they concentrate on different areas of the law, providing clients two lawyers for the price of one when they advise each other. While Brian works in real estate, wills and estates, and corporate law, Carole focuses on family law and personal injury. The two met while they were both teaching school, Carole said. Though Brian was already an attorney, Carole was attending law school at night and teaching during the day. When she had questions, Carole said, she would consult Brian, who also helped her land a clerkship and study for the bar. The relationship grew from there, and they opened a law firm and married after Carole’s graduation. Carole said that, as in any working relationship, she and Brian encounter bumps in the road, but because they are married, any problems are minimized. And overall, seeing each other throughout the day has proved a positive experience, the attorney said. Carole said that during lunch and on weekends, she and Brian avoid discussing business. In contrast to the Cleeres’ no-weekend-shoptalk policy, James Colleran Sr. of the Law Offices of James E. Colleran in Philadelphia said he and his four children spend seven days a week working together. And it doesn’t end there: Since Francis Colleran, Teresa Colleran Quinn, James Colleran Jr. and David Colleran all help one another and look to their father for guidance, evening phone calls are the norm. The firm opened in 1995 after James Sr. had spent 25 years at The Beasley Firm. At the time, Francis was practicing there as well. James Jr. was an assistant district attorney in Montgomery County, and Teresa had finished a federal clerkship. After completing law school and then clerking for the same federal judge for whom Teresa worked, David began practicing with his brothers, sister and father a few years ago. The firm has since added an additional attorney — A. Christine Giordano — who is not a family member, but who, according to James Sr., has not changed the office dynamics. James Sr. said the bottom line is that the firm is just that: a law firm. “It’s a business,” he said, “it’s a law firm, and when we are here in this environment, it’s really not a family. It’s really professionals working together.” The attorney said the doors of the office dictate where family ends and professional relationships begin. And there is no slack to be cut because of family ties, he said. “If anything,” James Sr. said, “I think that we all demand and expect more of each other. … This is serious business. We represent severely injured people, and we take our obligations to heart, and I’m very proud of the professionalism and dedication that we have to our clients.” But James Sr. said he is particularly proud of his children’s performances through the years and of the hard work each had put in to acquiring a substantial body of medical knowledge, which the lawyer described as essential to their work. Acknowledging that he is, of course, biased, James Sr. said he is elated about the positive remarks that numerous judges had made about his children. The proud father said he wouldn’t hesitate to let any of his children represent him in the most serious of matters.

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