Thirty years ago, Jeff Schwaber, an associate at a large Baltimore law firm, was assigned to a case in Montgomery County. For the duration of the trial, his supervisors arranged for him to “bum an office” at a small law firm across the street from the Rockville courthouse. “They didn’t know me from a hole in the wall,” Schwaber says of the attorneys at Stein Sperling, where he set up shop for six weeks, but they were friendly and eager to make suggestions and help him with the case. Soon he thought, “These guys really enjoy each other, they really have a good time,” he says. “And professional happiness helps breed professional excellence—I could see that, and I wanted to be part of it.”
A few months later, Schwaber left the Baltimore firm and came to Stein Sperling as a fourth-year associate. Today he’s managing partner. Nearly a third of the firm’s 124 employees have been there for at least 10 years, Schwaber says. “In an increasingly transient profession, this lack of turnover is something we are quite proud of,” he says.
Darla McClure started as the firm’s receptionist when she was 21. “Every step of the way they were just very encouraging,” says the 50-year-old, who became a paralegal, went to law school at night, became an associate, and now is a principal of the firm and head of the employment law group. During all that time, she never considered leaving the firm. “There was never any reason to,” she says. “They’re good to their staff…they want to see them succeed.”
By Amy Halpern