THE MEN ARE CLOSING IN ON 70 YEARS
OLD. They may carry more pounds, and less
hair, than when they met. There’s a sore
leg, a tennis elbow. None of these issues
negatively affects their performance; but as
they head into what will likely be the last
decade of their careers, today’s lunch topic
veers toward the inevitable.
“The exit’s very difficult,” says Harnden.
It’s not just the exits that concern them.
What is going to happen to the firms
when they’re gone? And what will their
relationships to the firms be then? How do
the firms envision the next 30 years when
the founders may play a part in only the
“I imagine in 15 years, there may be one
of us still practicing, but probably not more
than one,” says Markowitz.
“Who’s that?” asks Harnden.
“Ward will be the last to give it up,”
“I know all you guys still work very hard,”
says Greene. “What is remarkable is that I
suspect we all still bill more hours than other
lawyers in our firms.”
“Not me, I’m reducing hours,” says
Markowitz. “This is the first year I’ve done a
20 percent cut.”
“With all due respect, do you really believe
you’ll be able to do that?” asks Greene.
Markowitz pauses. “In the first couple of
months I have not been very successful at it.”
“I would think not,” says Greene.
“How do you take those jets that
propelled you to where you are and say,
‘OK, I’m happy; I just want to level off’?”
asks Menashe. “[That’s] the thing I’ve been
struggling with. ... because now you have a
reputation as being one of the top guys at
what you do. You don’t want to be less than
“You have to move somewhere in that
direction, because you don’t want to be
80 years old and drop dead sitting at your
desk,” says Harnden. “The hard part is,
those [big] cases come by; you say you’re
working toward that 80 percent, but you
take the case because you’ve always taken
“There’s no way to say no,” says Markowitz.
“You get a dozen great cases in your career.
To have one at the end of the career … ” His
nod seems to indicate that the Oracle case
is a sweet gift to round out an already sweet
career, including State of Oregon v. Philip
Morris, et al., in which Markowitz helped
Tobacco to Oregon under the 1998 Tobacco
Master Settlement Agreement.
“The size of a case is perhaps less
important when you are selecting one
that is the highlight of a trial career,” says
Harnden, adding that he was recently
honored to represent a “legendary trial
attorney who was challenged by the
bar association for his handling of a
tremendously complex business and
securities transaction.” It was a case that
required Harnden to use, he says, “all of
the tools that trial lawyers accumulate
over the years, including dealing with the
obvious emotions that flowed from the
indignation at the charges; locating expert
witnesses to establish the national norm
for the handling of the underlying type of
case; cross-examining multiple attorney
witnesses; and then following through with
a succinct argument.” The Oregon Supreme
Court ultimately decided the trial in his
client’s favor on all aspects of the case.
Client confidentiality prevents Menashe
from sharing the details of his career-
defining family law cases. As the former
president of the Multnomah and Oregon
State Bar Associations, a former member of
the Governor’s Task Force on Family Law, a
founding member of both the Multnomah
Bar’s Mentor-Mentee program, and the
Family Law Section of the Oregon State
Bar, Menashe says he hopes he’s “spent my
career promoting the practice of family law
and developing great lawyers to represent
families in Oregon.”
Greene was one of the first lawyers in
Portland to successfully reorganize a local
company under Chapter 11. That experience
led, he says, “to the realization that
small businesses and individuals needed
specialized help when they were in financial
distress.” Recently, he sued a large,
multinational company after it confiscated
the assets of a client. The jury awarded the
full amount of his client’s damages, plus
$3.5 million in punitive damages.
“The best barometer on whether to take
an assignment or a case is your gut,” says
Menashe. “Sometimes you sit there as a
new lawyer, somebody comes in, you need
business, you’ve got student loans, but you
know it’s a case that’s going to compromise
your ethics and your professionalism.”
“Or just ruin your time,” says Markowitz.
“That was one of the things we talked
about in our earliest meetings,” says
Menashe. “We always said making a good
living becomes a byproduct of being good
at what you do. If you set making money as
your goal, you can have some short-term
hits, but you’re going to crash and burn. Just
put your nose to the grindstone and try to be
the best you can be.”
“When I get a call from a new client, I’m
still excited,” says Greene. “I say, ‘What
mischief have people managed to create?’”
The talk turns to extracurricular activities.
Harnden mentions the at-risk kids he tutors,
and Greene adds that the 501(c)( 3) he
founded, Senior Advocates for Generational
Equity, recently received a $40,000 grant
from the Meyer Memorial Trust. There are
congratulations all around.
“I think that’s the natural evolution of
“We’ve been very lucky, gentlemen,” says
things,” says Menashe. “When we first
started, we borrowed so much money to
start our law firm, our motto was: Failure
is not an option. We work to just keep
afloat. And then, once you’re economically
independent, you want the respect of your
peers. And then you get to be our age and
what you really want is to figure out how to
help other people.”
“We started out as ambitious
youngsters, a lot of ideas were untested,”
says Markowitz. “Now we’re all looking at
end-of-the-career issues, and how we are
going to figure out how to pass it to the
The lunch plates are cleared. There is not
even the consideration of coffee or dessert.
Greene, as the men walk down the hall.
“And it’s been fun. I mean, it hasn’t really
been work,” says Menashe.
“And you cannot discount the luck factor,”
“Plenty of that,” says Greene.
“It’s all that luck that you get at 2 in
the morning on the weekend, when you’re
looking at those briefs,” says Markowitz.
Greene pushes the down button for the
elevator. The men continue to talk as they
wait for it.