A Mysterious Envelope and a Life-Changing Decision

A strong commitment to integrity and justice has always been at the core of CPMT’s mission and vision, but our dedication to those values was tested early on in the journey, begging the question of where our loyalties truly lie…

Remembering the Humble Beginnings

I recently sat down with my father, Stephen Merlin, one of the founders of CPMT, and he shared a memory from when CPMT had only been in business for about six months. He recalls that the CFO of their largest client, who they were also subleasing office space from, walked into his office and tossed an envelope onto his desk. When instructed to open the envelope, my dad discovered a holiday letter written to one of their client’s employees, but the envelope also contained drugs.

Unsure about what the best next steps were, my father reached out to a colleague for his insight and expertise. He was advised to turn the person in and report what happened. In their commitment to doing the right thing no matter what, the firm agreed that it was the best decision to turn in the employee, knowing they would likely experience negative consequences as a result.

My dad shared his fears about making the decision they did. He worried that his reputation would be ruined and that they would lose their biggest client and possibly their business. He was concerned about losing his house and having to start over from nothing.

Staying True to Their Values

As he reflected back, my father shared, “We didn’t have a choice… We made what we thought was the only choice.” Both back then and now, our firm recognizes that not everyone would make the same decision to do the right thing, knowing that it could substantially impact their business. This experience was really an intense existential threat that called into question the debate between financial well-being and maintaining ethical responsibilities. I’m grateful that my father and his partners chose ethics, which continues to guide our decision-making as a firm.

As lawyers and human beings, we have always taken seriously our obligation to ourselves, our clientele, and the justice system, and we are dedicated to maintaining integrity, even in the face of tumultuous situations. This commitment to integrity is what has helped us gain a reputation as confidants and counselors to our entire client base. It’s how we’ve done business since 1977, and it’s how we’ll continue doing business in the future.

Moving Forward

When my father talks about this pivotal time in our company’s history, he notes that it was character-building. He said, “It was quite an adventure and quite scary,” but he also noted that doing the right thing was never really a question in their minds.

They did, in fact, get fired by that client just a few months later, causing them to lose their office space and all that came along with it, including copiers, phone systems, and more. They moved across the street to start fresh, and while things felt quite uncertain for a while, they were confident in their choices and pressed forward to serve more clients and rebuild their business.

Looking to the Future

Today, CPMT is thriving, due in part to our long-time commitment to integrity and justice. We have established ourselves as trustworthy and ethical, even when we’re faced with difficult circumstances. We always stand by our beliefs and values, and we use those as our driving force behind taking care of our clients and doing our jobs well.

What an honor it is to be part of a company committed to ethical choices. I’m so grateful to the CPMT founders for paving the way for us to continue doing what we love today.