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Kerry Ahern has a secret. Sometimes when the Weil, Gotshal & Manges associate works late at night or on the weekend, she’s not alone. Beau is by her side. Or on her lap. Or licking her. Or scratching behind his ears. Beau is Ahern’s golden retriever. And if Beau’s not there, Ahern’s other golden retriever, Isabelle, is. Sometimes they both are. Ahern isn’t the only Weil Gotshal associate with the Dallas office who brings pets to work. Heather Emmel and Gayle Rosenstein plead guilty, too. “We all have to admit that we have taken our dogs to the office on weekends and evenings,” Ahern, a litigator, says. Like the others, Emmel says she brings Nala, a Rhodesian ridgeback, to work “mostly just because I don’t want her to be lonely and bored at home, especially if I’ve been working a lot.” Rosenstein has a similar reason. “I travel a lot for work, so I try to spend a lot of time with the dogs on the weekends. They enjoy going to the office and greeting everyone, and laying under my desk as I finish a brief or whatever,” she says. “However, the addition of a broadband connection at my house into our firm’s system has really helped me with avoiding the office on the weekends — and gives the dogs a nice view of the squirrels from my home office. “The people here are extremely understanding about pets for some reason,” she says. DOGS IN THE CITY In fact, she notes that soon she’ll be living in New York City for three months to prepare for a major trial and the firm said it’s OK for the dogs to go with her. Talk to Glenn West, managing partner of Weil Gotshal’s Dallas office, and the reason the firm is so understanding about pets becomes apparent. “We try to be as supportive of our attorneys’ personal lives as we possibly can, in any way we can. It helps make them more productive parts of the firm. It’s part of the attitude of welcoming our associates in as part of the family, and if they happen to bring some pets with them, they’re a part of the family, too.” He says there seems to be a good number of pet owners at the firm — including himself. Currently, the West household is home for two dogs, Buster, an Irish wolf hound and shepherd mix, and Buttons, a schnauzer. Neither has stepped paw in the firm’s office. Maybe Weil Gotshal doesn’t mind dogs occasionally sniffing out the firm’s digs because the associates’ canines help them build business by bettering relationships with clients. “It seems like once they [clients] know you have a dog … the topic of dogs always seems to come up,” says Mike Skarda, a pet owner and Weil Gotshal associate who practices corporate law. He has a yellow Labrador-mix, Chigi, and a Vizsla named Boojum. Having a dog helps build rapport with clients you’re wooing and enhances rapport with established clients, Emmel says. For example, the Weil Gotshal dog-owning associates say they have clients who sometimes call, not for legal help, but for dog advice. Sarah Patel Pacheco, a partner in Crain, Caton & James, practicing estate, trust and guardianship administration, and litigation, agrees. Talking about pets adds a common bond between a lawyer and client, just as talking about sports or other subjects does, Pacheco says. She and her husband, Patrick, have two Bernese mountain dogs — or, as she calls them, “hundred-pound lap dogs” — similar to St. Bernards. Daisy Head Mazey and Horton Hears A Who are both named after Dr. Seuss characters. “A number of my clients have ‘canine’ family members and often ask about my ‘children’ and vice versa,” Pacheco says. “With some of my older clients, their pets are often their closest companions, and they appreciate being asked how their pets are doing.” In turn, clients want to know about her dogs. In fact, when one of the Pachecos’ dogs, Sam I Am, died of cancer in January 2003, Sarah and Patrick — a partner in Dow Golub Berg & Beverly in Houston — received from clients sympathy cards, calls, and e-mails, and even a book about dealing with the loss of a pet. That’s when Daisy Head Mazey joined the family. Having a dog humanizes you to a client, says Emmel, who practices corporate law. “It’s just like having kids.” LEGAL LAP DOGS And having a dog helps Emmel and Skarda cope with the stress of being lawyers. “No matter what kind of day I’ve had, I always feel better when she climbs in my lap — all 80 pounds of her,” Emmel says. “Dogs are always happy and eager to greet you when you come home, which takes your mind off of work — at least temporarily,” Skarda says. “There’s nothing like having someone so excited to see you and wanting to devote their full attention to you after [you have had] a long, hard day at work,” Rosenstein says. “They don’t care when you get home, they’re just glad you’re there.” But Sarah Pacheco adds, “There’s really no good way to balance billable hours and making sure a dog’s not neglected” unless you have a sitter or enroll the pooch in doggie day care. So, the Pachecos hired a sitter who takes care of their dogs while she and her husband are at their firms. They pay $500 a month for the twice-daily visits. Other associates also use sitters to tend to their pooches. Sanford Dow, a partner in Dow Golub Berg & Beverly in Houston, has someone come to his home several times a day to walk his Vizsla, Saba, for $12 per day. When he’s working 16-hour days during a trial, he calls a dog sitter, who picks up the dog and takes care of her until the trial is over at a cost of $25 per night. Often when Ahern’s at the office or in court, her “kids” are in day care — doggie day care, that is. “They’re big dogs, high-energy dogs,” she says. “If you take them to day care, when you get home, they’re tired, ready to relax with you. If not, when you come home stressed from a day at the office, they’re ready to rumble and you’re not.” Rosenstein, a commercial litigator, enrolled Millie and Maxim, her two golden retrievers, in day care. And Emmel’s Rhodesian ridgeback Nala goes to day care, too, mostly for the socialization and exercise. So while some Weil Gotshal attorneys take turns carpooling their children to day care, Ahern and Rosenstein carpool their dogs to doggie day care; their dogs are in the same day care. “I’ve left meetings before to pick up my dog,” Ahern says. Jenkens & Gilchrist litigation associate Dionne Carney Rainey remembers a time when Ahern left a retreat because of Beau and Isabelle. (Ahern used to work at Jenkens.) The firm planned a retreat for several days at a hotel near Dallas. Ahern decided to stay at the hotel, but Rainey went home every night. So, as a favor on her way home, Rainey checked on Ahern’s golden retrievers. When Rainey walked in, she found them playing — with Ahern’s $300 black leather Guccis with a wooden stacked heel. “They’d chewed them up,” Rainey says. The next morning when she met with Ahern at the retreat, Rainey showed the dog tooth-perforated and slobber-soaked shoes to Ahern, figuring the retrievers would be in big trouble. Guess again. “‘Ah, isn’t that sweet? They miss me,’” Rainey recalls Ahern saying before she got up, left the once-a-year firmwide retreat, and went home to her pooches early. Given the playful, potentially destructive nature, of their pets, have the pet-owning lawyers ever had to resort to that old standby — “The dog ate my brief” — for an excuse? Pacheco has. “I’ve had one [dog] chew up a brief before. I couldn’t get too upset. After all, it was a puppy, and I shouldn’t have put it within reach.” Besides, she says, there was no reason to make the poor pooch feel like he was in the doghouse when “I could print off another copy of the brief.” But Pacheco’s friend and fellow dog-loving lawyer had an even bigger problem than one dog-digested brief. Dow tells this tale about his pointy-tailed Hungarian sporting dog, Saba: “The briefs were sitting on the floor, in a banker box, when I went to lunch. I told the legal assistant to check in on the dog. When I came back from lunch, I opened the door and realized the legal assistant had not followed up.” Dow looked around and noticed Saba had climbed onto the desk and chewed on the pencils and pencil boxes. “Then I looked down. There was a construction lawsuit lien issue I was working on. Pieces of it were missing.” Fortunately, those were photocopies and the originals were tucked away. EATS MOSS AND TWIGS Dow took it in stride. In fact, he made it one of Saba’s bragging rights on the Vizsla’s r�sum�. Listed as “representative experience” — right along with “eating moss and twigs,” Saba’s r�sum� reads: “eating a box of legal documents at Dow Golub Berg & Beverly in connection with an ongoing construction matter in the District Court of Harris County, Texas.” Saba’s impressive r�sum� can be found at the firm’s Web site — if you’re sly enough to find the secret link. Most people perusing the firm’s site don’t know about it, but “we thought it was humorous,” Dow says of adding the secret link. Being able to do that, he says, “I guess that’s one of the benefits of having your own firm.”

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