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Robert Byrnes has given up life in the fast lane for the quiet of law firm halls. For years, Byrnes split his work week between poring over legal documents and racing through the streets of Los Angeles as a bike messenger. But a couple of months ago, he decided to work full time as a lawyer. Being a bike messenger “was becoming punishing,” Byrnes said. “I wanted to stop while I still liked it — and was still living.” An associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, Byrnes has been a bike messenger on and off for the last decade. He got his first gig after getting a master’s degree from Harvard University. But he soon left the streets to take a job as speechwriter for then-Massachusetts Gov. William Weld. Byrnes subsequently went to Stanford Law School and then joined Quinn Emanuel. Looking for a change of pace, he took a leave of absence to write a book with fellow Quinn Emanuel associate Jaime Marquart. Published last year, “Brush With the Law” recounts their wild experiences as law students at Harvard Law School and Stanford, respectively. Their tell-all tale of drinking, drugs and sex garnered the two a fair amount of media attention — and enough income to take time off. Byrnes said he wasn’t excited about going back to legal work exclusively so he asked Quinn Emanuel Chairman John Quinn if he could be both a lawyer and bike messenger. “They complement each other,” Byrnes said. “One is slow, rational, inside and the other is fast, passionate, outdoors.” Byrnes, 38, initially did messenger work for the firm and then started his own company — L.A. Bike Messenger Co-op — which consists of five principles. He credits Quinn Emanuel for being receptive to things that might seem odd. Quinn not only supported Byrnes’ dual life, he also joined him on one of his deliveries. “He has the same intensity as a biker that he does as a trial lawyer,” Byrnes said. Quinn said Byrnes reflects the unique character of Quinn Emanuel. “There’s room for all kinds of different people,” he said. “What matters is how good the work is.” While Byrnes is no longer weaving in and out of traffic, he’s still a member of the biking scene. He plans to compete in bike messenger races, including the world championship in Seattle this summer. And he still hangs out with his old crowd. “I still roll in every Monday morning and sit on the corner with them,” he said. While other people dread the start of the week, “they are excited about Monday morning and the rush of the work.” “I feel that way about coming to the firm now,” he said. “I enjoy being in here more than ever.”

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