After 17 years inside the Beltway at Williams & Connolly, Alex Romain is fully ensconced in Southern Californian living. A partner at Hueston Hennigan in Los Angeles, Romain is probably best known as one of the lawyers who got the conviction voided and indictment dismissed against the late Sen. Ted Stevens in 2009, amid allegations—later found true—of prosecutorial misconduct in the gift-disclosure case.
Romain, 47, his wife Melissa, his son Aidan, 10, his daughter Olivia, 8, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Beignet have lived in Santa Monica since 2016, a move they decided to make after he and his family “fell in love with Southern California,” he said. Their home is about a 45-minute commute to Romain’s L.A. office, where he heads the firm’s professional liability and defense practice.
Here’s what Romain’s typical workday looks like.
Early Risers I get up at 5. OK, to be fair, I get up at 5:15. I hit the snooze and give myself an extra five minutes at least three times. Both of our kids tend to get up at 5:15 or 5:30. Because of my schedule, I end up spending most of my time with my kids in the morning. We have three activities between 5:30 and 7 in the morning that we rotate. We don’t do all three things every day. One is swimming. My son swims. We have a pool that is literally two blocks from our house. We’ll do that three or four times a week. In addition to that we have French classes that we do. I am Haitian-American. I spend a half hour doing French-related exercises with them. It’s a cultural connection. The third thing relates to piano. I will help them to practice the piano.
No Excuses I leave to get to the gym at about 7:30. I work with a personal trainer at Equinox in Santa Monica. I started working out in the morning because I wanted to make sure I eliminated any excuses. It just puts taking care of working out first. I also realized no one is sitting by the phone waiting for me to be in office. I can choose how to adjust by schedule in a way that makes it work for me.
Fuel and Threads For breakfast, I typically try to grab something that’s small, like a banana and a [protein] bar. I’m not a big coffee drinker. I usually wear a suit with no tie on an average day, if I’m not meeting a client. I’ve been able to find a tailor who tends to come through from Hong Kong. He makes my suits for me. They’re not only tailored just right but also more cost-effective. He also makes my shirts.
Commuting Counselor My commute is generally 45 minutes, on average. I drive a Range Rover. It’s dark gray. I use my commute as efficiently as possible. I try to always schedule calls, especially for my clients on the East Coast.
At the Office I identify the three most important things I want to achieve that day. I try to really highlight the things that truly need to be addressed. By laying out the priorities at the beginning of the day, then at the end of the day I feel like the main things have been done. My thinking about my job is that I need to be able to take the problems that clients have and try to take it off of their plate as much as possible, to make them feel calm. Part of doing that is systematically moving things forward—one task at a time, one day at a time. That helps me and the client.
Relationships There might also be one thing during my day that is sort of relationship-focused—being in touch with someone beyond specific legal work. I’m a strong believer in balancing my life. That makes me a better lawyer, person, father and husband. It can be taking a young person I’ve met who’s looking for a mentorship to lunch or could be calling someone and just asking how they’re doing. These things are focused on taking the time to build a relationship.
Quiet Hour I usually will have [some] reading to do, whether it’s briefs or memos or letters, and I try to do that as effectively as possible. I don’t spend all of my time on email. I find quiet time to read without attempting to do 20 different things at one time. Rather than responding constantly, I lay out chunks of time to review my emails.
Quitting Time I generally get home at about 7:30. My wife is a great cook and she likes to cook. She is the rock of our family. She works incredibly hard to keep everything together. We finish dinner around 8:30. I’m almost always doing more work. One of the key goals for me is related to email management—making sure I have addressed all the emails that I’ve received.
Downtime I like to take a break, to just unwind at the end of the day. I may be watching a show. “Homeland” is a very important part of our lives. I may get on the piano and play a little and practice. I typically get to bed by 11 or 11:30.