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Firm Flashbacks

Driven to perfection

ABOVE — Reford Bond (right) hams it up for the camera as “The Colonel” Joe Rucks (middle) and Stewart Mark look on.

To those that had the privilege of working with him over the course of his 30-year career with McAfee & Taft, early partner Reford Bond was often described as one of the smartest guys they ever knew, a “force of nature,” and a brilliant transactional lawyer, opinionated and driven to perfection.

While many young attorneys at the time would later admit to being intimidated by him, they would also tell you that getting a compliment from him — even indirectly — was very high praise indeed. Bond set exceptionally high standards for himself and demanded no less from those with whom he worked.

Reford Bond in his McAfee & Taft office in 1980.

In his quest to instill in young attorneys the same work ethic and drive for perfection that he had, he was both an exacting teacher and a tough critic.

“He was definitely my mentor,” said Connie Gore Fuller, who joined the firm in 1975. “He would make me cry, and he would make me smile, and he would really work you hard. It was great. It was like getting a graduate law degree to be able to work for him.”

“One of Reford’s most famous lines — when he’d look at some work product that you had done — was, ‘If I’d only had five minutes*, I’d have just done this myself,’” said Louis Price, who joined the firm as an associate in 1978. “For a young lawyer, that was not a very pleasant experience until others told you that when he kept calling you to come back and do more work, it means that he liked you and that you were doing a good job. What you needed to worry about is if you’d never hear from him again.”

Another “Reford-ism,” according to Mark Burget, was his response to any associate who contended that he or she simply didn’t have time to complete yet another project: “There are lots of hours between midnight and six, you know.”

Demanding as he might have been, he also took great pride in the success and development of his colleagues. And while he wasn’t known to be flush with compliments publicly, he would privately tell others how proud he was of them. According to his daughter Cynthia, he was particularly proud of the young women lawyers who were breaking through in the male-dominated legal industry in the 70s and 80s, more than once describing them as “superstars.”

High praise indeed.

*To be fair, and perhaps based on the complexity of the assignment, he would sometimes concede that some projects would take as much as 10 or even 15 minutes for him to do it himself.