This same time last year, my husband, Mike was forging a new path in his legal career. From his early days as an associate lawyer at a legal firm to setting up his own law firm a decade later, Mike has lived through the many ventures and misadventures of a prac–ticing lawyer.
Hence, in early 2013, deciding between setting-up a solo practice or joining a legal partnership was a quandary he grappled with for some time. I’m pretty sure most lawyers, and even professionals, would have been through a similar dilemma at one point in their careers. It was then that things worked out unexpectedly for Mike with almost random events leading him to decide upon putting up a law firm with two other partners—Marco and Al.
It was almost serendipitous that Mike, Marco and Al would find their paths crossing again decades after graduating from UP Law School. In fact, it was the friendships unmindfully built early on that would bring these men together—Mike and Marco being Upsilonians, Al and Marco being high school classmates, then Mike and Al being partners in a previous law firm. Somehow, what were almost fortuitous friendships sparked the possibility of a partnership among the three.
Having gone through their own disappointments with other firm partnerships before, Mike, Marco and Al were initially all quite wary of how things would be different this time around. As they’ve all learned on their own and from more senior lawyers, it isn’t always a bed of roses when one goes through a professional partnership. As with any relationship, it does take one to be tolerant, prudent, and sincere in dealing with others. Like distant friends, at the start, Mike, Marco and Al discovered more things they share in common—memories of carefree high school days in La Salle, fraternity events, and law school secrets.
As the year went past, the three men soon realized that they all aspired for the same career and personal goals. These days, all three find mutual support and validation shared over coffee or the occasional single malt shots. There have also been casual lunches that have made work seem less daunting for them all. Perhaps the other thing that has made being together much easier for them too is that the wives get along quite well. The easy rapport shared among us wives was quite surprising to say the least.
To me, it’s remarkable how men manage to treat partnerships and friendships. I often wonder if it is in the nature of men to find it so much easier to keep friendships less complicated. Perhaps it’s the straightforward, unemotional approach to relationships that makes them better business partners. In contrast, women tend to make relationships slightly more difficult—masking simple business decisions with emotional issues as I’ve learned in the past.
People often throw advice that friends shouldn’t go into business together. Even worse, they say that you lose your friends when the business folds. But, the truth is the risks of being business partners with anyone will always be there, even within family businesses.
Perhaps, there are no perfect partnerships or perfect friendships in life. And for Mike, Marco and Al, hopefully they’re quite close to building close to one. Good luck and happy anniversary to these three men and a law firm!