May 2012 Bar Bulletin
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Profile / Chemnick Moen Greenstreet

30 Years and Going Strong

By Joi Marschal


Every day around 11:30, you will hear Gene Moen jingle the change in his pocket as he walks down the hall. It's lunch time, and barring trial or deposition, it's the signal for the three partners to go to lunch. Yes, every day.

They discuss cases, of course, and brainstorm and strategize and pick them apart and put them back together again. But they also talk about personal challenges, family matters, sometimes sports and always politics. They laugh and tease.

Paul ChemĀ­nick was once asked by a summer law clerk applicant what he enjoyed most about the practice of law, and answered, "Lunch." This was in part because it seemed to be an obvious canned question to demonstrate interest, but also because it was, in part, truth. These are colleagues who have worked together for 30 years, and lunch has become a signifier of the bonds of respect, appreciation and caring they hold for each other. It's not your usual law firm.

This is not the usual article either. It's not one that extols cases won or honors bestowed, although they've more than earned their share. It's an article about a few of the things that made them into who they are, how the firm came about and why they've been together for 30 years.

Paul Chemnick grew up poor, raised by a single mother. Although she was unable to work, she tried to make life an adventure for her children.

Paul and his mother and sister moved around often, renting tiny places for the school year, and then camping for the summers in state and national parks around the country. Paul quickly learned to fish and the family survived that first summer mainly on the trout he caught, fruit picked from an abandoned orchard, berries, and flour they made into bread, wrapped around sticks and cooked over the fire.

They did this over the course of six summers and he especially liked the national parks where they could spend evenings at the rangers' campfires watching educational slideshows. And no matter where they went, Paul was responsible for catching fish for their meals. It is, Paul says, how his continuing love of the outdoors and his appreciation of nature developed.

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