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Law Families: Like Father... - Ladue News: Business & Wealth

Law Families: Like Father...

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Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 11:12 am

For some families, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, whether it’s looks, personality or career. For each of these families, a shared passion for law brought two generations together in one firm, as they enjoy working together and learning from each other along the way.

C. Marshall Friedman

While a mock trial in fifth grade may have spurred Robert Friedman’s interest in law, the ties to the profession were already in his blood when he joined his father, Marshall, and brother, Scott, in the ranks of the C. Marshall Friedman firm in 2010. “The chance to learn from my father, who is second-to-none with trial experience—the opportunity was too good to pass up,” Robert says.

With more than 46 years as an attorney and more than 30 years as a professor with the Washington University Law School, Marshall Friedman is well-practiced in the civil trial field. After working at several area firms, including with his brothers and fellow attorneys, Irv and Art, he ventured out on his own in 1985. The C. Marshall Friedman practice specializes in railroad injuries, wrongful death and personal injury, among other claims, trying cases throughout the United States.

Witnessing his father in action as a child drew Scott into the legal world. “Growing up, we’d come see him try cases, and he taught us that law is a very interesting and wonderful profession. It just made sense to follow in his footsteps,” says Scott, who joined the practice in 2005. The Friedman family also includes another lawyer, with Robert and Scott’s brother, Mike, serving as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C.

With their father and another attorney with the firm, Ken Rudd, as mentors, Robert and Scott have learned the legal ropes through the years. However, working alongside relatives every day does present a challenge to “separate work and play,” Robert says. “We enjoy spending time together on the weekends, so we make a conscious effort so that our conversations don’t always turn back to work.”

At age 71, Marshall has no plans to stop working any time soon, instead relishing in the opportunity to practice his craft with his sons.“The biggest thrill for me is the joy of working with them and seeing their success.”

The Schechter Law Firm

Sitting around the dinner table growing up, Jeff Schechter was captivated by his father’s tales as a lawyer. “My father is a fascinating storyteller, and he made practicing law sound like a very stimulating and interesting career,” Jeff remembers.

The Schechter family has been practicing law since 1959, when patriarch Theodore began working primarily as a criminal defense attorney. In the early 1980s, he made the decision to specialize in divorce and family law, opening one of the first boutique family law firms in the area with Ellen Watkins. Jeff joined the practice in 1986 after trying his hand at tax and estate work and being “completely bored to tears,” he says. “On the other hand, family law is very engaging— it’s one-on-one, working with your clients to solve real-world problems.”

Another member of the family, Jeff ’s brother Mike, came on board in the early ’90s, after working in marketing before attending law school. The practice became The Schechter Law Firm in 1996, and today is a family affair, with the three Schechters as partners. “My father is an expert and he taught us everything we know,” Jeff says. “In the beginning, we would help him work up the cases and prepare them for trial—we learned along the way.”

The biggest obstacle the family has faced while working with each other was the transition from Theodore as teacher and his sons as pupils, to that of equal partners. “At some point, he had to let us ‘rock n’ roll’ on our own,” Jeff notes. “We were able to do that, and we’re still working happily together.”

Enjoying lunch together almost daily and helping each other with cases when needed, the Schechters appreciate the uniqueness of their situation. “How many families get the opportunity to spend that kind of time with each other? It’s been a huge perk,” Jeff says.

Although Theodore is 77, he continues to practice full-time, and another generation of lawyers may just be waiting in the wings, with several of Jeff and Mike’s children at high school and college age. “The kids certainly have heard all the same stories I did growing up,” Jeff says. “Maybe one of them will be interested in pursuing the same career—you never know!”

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