By Amy Halpern
The lobby of Bethesda law firm Lerch, Early & Brewer is a serene expanse of tans and grays, with glass-walled conference rooms and panoramic views. It’s hard to imagine the space hosting an after-hours karaoke lounge, Hawaiian-themed aloha night or a giant Jenga game. But a custom system allows the glass dividers to slide back against the outer wall. Several evenings a year—in non-pandemic times—the conference tables are stashed and the space becomes a place for everyone from partners to support staff to cut loose. Often, there’s live music and door prizes.
Accounts Payable Manager Ana Lopez says it’s fun to see unexpected people let their guard down, but it’s the day-to-day friendliness of Lerch Early and its 114 employees that she appreciates most. “Even though they’re attorneys, I’ve always called them by their first names… it’s never been Mr. So-and-So or Mr. Whatever,” says Lopez, who just celebrated her 20th anniversary at the firm.
Lopez’s immediate supervisor started at Lerch Early right out of high school, and the firm covered the tuition for her college degree. “The way it works for staff is they help you out with half of whatever course you are taking [so long as it’s related to your job at the firm] and if you get an A or a B, they reimburse you for the other half.”
Lopez says she receives occasional calls from recruiters trying to lure her to other firms, but she always turns them down. “I’m not looking to work anyplace else,” she says.