Three years ago, longtime Oklahoma City business attorney Jerry Tubb argued a case in federal court, and his boy came to watch the proceedings.
His son wasn’t a kid on school break, but a seasoned attorney and partner from another firm who’d assisted on the lawsuit.
“I was delighted to watch him and would’ve regretted if I didn’t invite myself to come over,” said Jeremy Tubb, then a partner with Crowe & Dunlevy law firm.
Their shared work on the case was an epiphany for Jeremy, who — thirsting for more opportunities to work alongside his dad — made the hard decision two years ago to leave Crowe, after 17 years with the firm, and join his father’s small firm of Fuller, Tubb, Bickford & Krahl.
“Now I collect new dad memories once a week,” said Tubb, 44. a labor and employment law attorney. “I can hear him coming down the hall every morning, and we have a ritual that he stops in my doorway and we chat about how our days look.”
Jerry Tubb, 74, who contracted polio as a teenager, uses a motorized wheelchair.
“Because we now share the attorney-client privilege, we can reveal facts on the cases we’re working on and strategize about things,” Jeremy Tubb said. “Of all my lunch buddies, my dad tops the list.” J.T.’s Barbeque and Catering in Del City ranks among the pair’s favorite spots.
“Jeremy, who’s president of the local chapter of the federal bar and mayor of Lake Aluma, has brought a lot of energy to the firm,” Jerry Tubb said. “He is recognized and reputed as knowing what he’s doing and doing it well, which is what I always worked at,” he said.
A similar desire to work with his dad in his mentor’s golden years spurred Oklahoma City patent attorney Mick McCarthy, 54, to rejoin his father Bill, 80, and brother Randy, 49, in the intellectual property practice of Hall Estill law firm in February.
A mechanical engineer for 12 years, Mick McCarthy, after graduating from law school, worked with his family as a patent agent and patent attorney, before starting his own firm in 2008.
For a long time, he thought his father’s management style was arbitrary, said McCarthy, likening his dad to the boss in a Dilbert cartoon, who in one strip held up a can of red paint and told Dilbert he “spray painted out all the stupid stuff.”
“Then one day, a light bulb went off, and I realized a patent is both a sword and shield, and there’s a fine line between describing a specialty enough to get a patent without being too narrow,” he said. “We try to think 20 years ahead.”
An extended career
A pioneer of Oklahoma’s intellectual property bar, Bill McCarthy, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering, worked 10 years for Western Electric before he earned his law degree in 1972 and joined the Dunlap boutique firm as a patent attorney.
“In those days, general lawyers didn’t want to learn what we do,” Bill McCarthy said.
“Besides, I was an engineer and didn’t want to handle DUIs.”
McCarthy, with the help if his wife Sue, ran his own firm from 1981 to 1998, before joining Crowe & Dunlevy. When he turned 68, once the age limit for retirement at Crowe, he moved to Fellers Snider, where he worked from 2002 to 2012, until joining Hall Estill.
Randy McCarthy, who worked seven years as an electrical engineer before entering law, said he was reluctant to join his father’s practice after he graduated law school, until an associate convinced him the firm was hiring an electrical engineer either way.
“We’re here together (at Hall Estill) because we want to be,” Randy McCarthy said. “We’re excited to come to work every day, where we get to deal with people’s dreams.”
‘A dream come true’
Across town at James F. Howell & Associates in Midwest City, Jim Howell, 79, works as a personal injury attorney, while his son David, 51, specializes in probate and estates.
A degreed chemical engineer, David decided to take the law school entrance exam the May he graduated from Oklahoma State University.
“The available engineering jobs were in sparsely populated areas and unattractive to me, being 21 and unmarried,” David Howell said.
During law school, he clerked at his father’s firm and, upon graduation, “jumped on the opportunity” to join the firm and have his own clients versus associate somewhere else, he said.
Jim Howell said practicing with his son has been “a dream come true. Son David is the best counsel I’ve got,” Howell said.
“Maybe because of his engineering background, he knows how to balance the equities, and work through and come up with reasonable solutions,” he said.