Many Thanks

Five successful lawyers offer a few words of thanks for the mentors who got their careers on track

Published in 2006 Oregon Super Lawyers Magazine — November 2006

David Markowitz Co-founder, Markowitz, Herbold, Glade & Mehlhaf
Great lawyers don’t just happen; they need help along the way, says David Markowitz, who co-founded Markowitz, Herbold, Glade & Mehlhaf in 1983. Now head of that firm, Markowitz attributes a good portion of his success to his mentors.
 
“Lawyers develop very slowly without good mentoring,” says Markowitz, 57, who specializes in commercial litigation. “There have to be really good role models.”
 
Markowitz says his legal skills were honed by two men with knife-sharp intellectual minds—George Kirklin and Richard Borst—at Spears Lubersky (which later merged with Lane Powell), where he worked for nine years.
 
“George Kirklin is the smartest lawyer I’ve ever observed,” says Markowitz. “I never came across anyone with a broader intellect who could digest a tremendous amount of information and then communicate it.”
 
As for Borst, he was “an organizational wizard who understood the concept of precise detail.” Markowitz relates an amusing story: “An associate went to court to argue a motion Dick [Borst] had filed. The judge demanded, ‘What’s the reason for this?’ ‘Because Mr. Borst insists on precision in his pleadings,’ the associate explained. ‘Mr. Borst,’ the judge replied, ‘insists on precision in his breakfast.’”
 
Says Markowitz, “He was extremely disciplined. When I decided to leave to start my own firm, I told [Borst] I owed him a significant debt for his time. I said that if any of his kids ever needed a job, I’d hire them. Two of them did, and they went to work for me.”
 
Best Advice from a Mentor
“The most important thing Dick Borst taught me was when he had to deliver some bad news to a client. He delivered it straight, just the truth. I thought he’d find some way to sugarcoat it, but when he hung up the phone, he said, ‘There’s only one truth, and you always tell it, and the rest will take care of itself.’”
 
 
Thomas Sand Managing Partner, Miller Nash
When Thomas Sand, 54, was a second-year associate at Miller Nash in 1978, he came under the mentorship of Norman Wiener, now retired. “He was a great trial lawyer, and he got me involved in securities fraud litigation,” Sand explains.
 
Although Sand originally thought he was interested in antitrust work, he found securities fraud law much more compelling. “Antitrust wasn’t all that much fun,” he recalls. “You didn’t get to go to court.”
 
Wiener helped Sand polish his abilities. “He’d take me along with him to court, to watch and learn,” Sand says. “A lot of us, as senior people, forget to take our mentees along, and we have trouble giving up control [because clients want the senior lawyers]. But Norm would also give me a lot of responsibility.”
 
Sand recalls one valuable lesson learned from Wiener. “I was handling a case quite independently. The opposing attorney was a very difficult person and would write long, accusatory briefs, and I’d get red-faced and yell about them to Norm.” Wiener would listen calmly, then tell Sand not to stoop to the opposing attorney’s level.
 
“He told me, ‘We’re going to take the high road, and he’ll get his comeuppance.’ We won the case. We won on appeal, and ultimately, that guy got kicked out of his firm,” Sand continues. “We didn’t have to get into the gutter, and he lost everything.
 
“I teach the same thing in much the same way to other young lawyers. Wiener was no pussycat. He’d stand up for himself and his clients. Sometimes, though, clients want you to be these junkyard dogs. But it’s rarely successful.”
 
Best Advice from a Mentor
“Professionalism is important. It matters how we treat each other, and it matters how we conduct ourselves.”
 
 
Mark Long Managing Partner, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt
With an attorney for a father, Mark Long was really mentored in the law from birth. He grew up in Oregon and went to law school at American University in Washington, D.C. His heart, though, was in the Northwest, and he returned to Oregon, joining Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.
 
Long stumbled into a couple of informal mentorships, one with his supervisor, business lawyer Jim Larpenteur. “We’re still very close,” Long says. “It is very important to a developing lawyer, and I can still trace things back to what I learned.”
 
Long, 53, calls Larpenteur “an excellent draftsman.” Larpenteur still has office space at the firm. “He takes the ideas of a transaction and reduces them to their essence. When I was younger, I would send contracts to him, and they would come back full of red ink.”
 
Of all Larpenteur’s admirable qualities, Long says the one he treasured most was Larpenteur’s generosity with his time. “I think time is our most precious commodity,” Long observes. “We’re under a lot of pressure, and I don’t know if I appreciated it at the time, but Jim always made time for me. It’s a real gift.”
 
Doug White—now retired—was also a powerful influence, says Long. “He was the ‘dean’ of real estate law. He was good, likable and patient.” White had an approach Long has taken to heart. “I learned from him that Portland is really a small town and that you may have an advantage now over the person across from you, but the next time, you may be on the weaker side, and you have to be respectful.”
 
Best Advice from a Mentor
“I try to pass on what Doug White taught me: You have to recognize that different people have different styles. But respect transcends style.”
 
 
Ruth Beyer Former Office Managing Partner, Stoel Rives Portland Office
Ruth Beyer, with Stoel Rives since 1980, says Henry Hewitt was a valued mentor. “You got the sense he was thinking about you and your development.” Beyer was impressed with the corporate law attorney’s concern for her professional growth.
 
“One day he walked into my office and handed me a brochure on an interesting out-of-state legal-education program,” she relates. “He said, ‘You really need to go to this.’ He thought I was a junior lawyer who’d benefit from the program. That really wasn’t his job, but he went out of his way to identify opportunities and encourage you.”
 
Beyer, 50, grew up in rural Oregon and attended Oregon State University, then moved to Portland after completing her law degree at Notre Dame. “I thought Portland would be a short-term thing. I’d go back to a smaller town like where I’d come from. But the longer I stayed, the more I liked it.”
 
With help from Hewitt and others, she found a home working in mergers and acquisitions. “Where you end up is shaped by what kinds of good work are being done in the office and who you gravitate to, who you like. I liked the connectivity with clients. You work with them a long time.”
 
In the early 1980s, when Beyer entered practice, female partners were few and far between, and being mentored by a woman was nearly impossible. “There were a couple of female partners, but not in my area,” recalls Beyer, adding that her firm was exceptional. “At that time, in this firm, there were no gender issues. I credit the partners here at that time—they had collectively formed the view that there would be women in the firm, and they would be treated as equals.”
 
Best Advice from a Mentor
“Henry Hewitt always told younger lawyers, ‘You have to think like a partner.’ He was telling us to think of the broader issue, how the answer fits into the bigger picture.”
 
 
Lewis Horowitz Vice President, Lane Powell
Lewis Horowitz looks back with a great deal of fondness on the time spent with his mentor, Mac Asbill, a Washington, D.C., tax lawyer. After graduating from law school in 1985, Horowitz came under Asbill’s wing at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan.
 
“I worked with him from 1986 to 1992,” says Horowitz, 46. “When I spent time with him, I never felt he was doing it out of a sense of obligation. There aren’t too many times in life when you have relationships, outside of your family, with people who don’t expect anything back.”
 
Horowitz remembers many talks over cups of coffee. “He was someone to confide in—about legal issues, about other lawyers I was having trouble with.” Asbill passed away in 1992. “Had he lived,” Horowitz says, “I don’t know if I would have come out to Oregon. His illness and death helped me feel free to ‘leave’ him.”
 
Horowitz connected with Asbill as the result of a mentoring assignment made by partners in the firm. Horowitz now helps to assign mentors at Lane Powell, as well as serving as a mentor himself. He’s quick to acknowledge that matching mentors and associates isn’t simple.
 
“You look for some commonality of interest, but sometimes it works, sometimes not,” says Horowitz. “There are some associates who welcome all advice and constructive criticism, but others who don’t. If it can come from outside the normal review process, it can really help them.”
 
Best Advice from a Mentor
“Mac always made it clear to me that you should do what you want to do: Choose your areas of professional interest that comport with your views and values. Don’t worry about the money.”
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