Behind the Scenes with Patrick McNamara

By Dominique O'Connor

As the new kid on the block, I decided to take a few minutes to get to know a little bit more about the man that signs my checks. Patrick’s story interested me from the start. Educated in New York, he moved to Omaha with his wife, Kate. Shortly after, he opened his own law firm. Within a year, he had a paralegal, Heidi. Not long after came his first law clerk, Mandi. With such a penchant for selecting talent and representing clientele, I had to see what drove the man with the plan.

Dom O’Connor: State your name for the record…ha ha. 

Patrick McNamara: Ahhh…Patrick E. McNamara (chuckles)

DO: Ok, so my first question is, how hard is it to transfer from the courtroom to normal life?

PM: Don’t think I really understood flexibility and creativity required when I was in law school. Like, what do you mean, I mean…I never really turn it off..ha ha.

DO: So, you’re always, like “ON.” That sounds exhausting!

PM: Well, I mean, the skills you use in the courtroom or in law get transferred to real life every day.

DO: Like?

PM: I got my wife and I a restaurant reservation this weekend for a place that supposedly didn’t have any left.

DO: Wow…that’s useful, ha ha. Second question, alright…do you feel any connection to any prominent legal characters played on TV right now?

PM: I shouldn’t say Saul Goodman, right? (collective laughter).

DO: Well, I mean, Saul, despite some of his faults is always passionate about defending or representing his clients so…

PM: I like characters who are unorthodox, um…

DO: Like, give me an example. Harvey from Suits?

PM: What was Billy Bob’s character in the show Goliath? There are a lot that I like.

DO: Ok. So, being a principal attorney, how has your vision of law changed from when you first got out of law school to your first actual job, to now?

PM: It feels like you have to be a lot more flexible than when I first left law school. I think when you first get out of law school you think everything is so concrete. Or that there’s a black and white way of doing things. But, in practice you learn how you’re going to handle the case. You learn about different counsel, or the judge’s personality. 

DO: Right. So, working from then until now, how would you say the real-life application has helped you in the practice of law?

PM: Well we like happy clients (chuckles). In order to run efficiently and not waste time, we have to learn that [practical law].

DO: Yeah, no I agree. So, in your practice, have you ever had to change strategy?

PM: (chuckles) Every day…

DO: I’m talking like huge curveballs here! Can you give me an example?

PM: Yeah I mean…Client decides to sell company and makes the negotiation moot. Or you learn about a smoking gun really late in the game. No matter how much you make it clear that clients should be forthcoming, you’ll always find that some aren’t as forthcoming, and it can change your case strategy. But, sometimes clients are embarrassed, or they don’t realize how a piece of information changes the nature of their claim.

DO: How do you get around that curveball?

PM: Clear and continued communication, one step at a time. Readdress any new issue that comes in with the same fervor that you would have given. Don’t let it prejudice your case. Just roll with it.

DO: Good advice. Speaking of good advice, what advice would you give to an attorney hoping to open their own firm, or transition to new area of law?

PM: Work somewhere where you get thrown in the fire. It’s amazing how fast you can learn something that way. You learn a lot when you put out fires. Work somewhere where they give you a lot of free reign and require you to give a lot.

DO: Yeah, I always hear that New York attorneys work really hard and for a lot of hours. But people here put in that kind of work too.

PM: Exactly.

DO: How do you feel about portrayals of Midwestern versus. coast attorneys?

PM: Courtesy goes very far here. You’re not bullied as much. Maybe because it’s a smaller community, it’s a little easier to figure out …there’s a lot more resources here if you don’t know what you’re doing…other attorneys, the courts…

DO: Yeah, they’ve definitely helped me out…and I’m just a law clerk (laughs). So, after a day of crushing it in the office, what are your top 5 ways to relax.

PM: Golf. I don’t like to exercise but I do …intensive though. I like to be driven by a coach because it allows you to clear your mind. The intensity keeps you from your mind wandering. If I just go to the gym, I’ll just dwell on things. I like to ride my bike. I’ll probably do half of RAGBRAI this year….I did all of last year which ended up being 420 miles.

DO: That is intense. You have two left.

PM: I like hanging out with my wife and friends. And travelling.

DO: Awesome. Well, is there anything else you want to let us know?

PM: I’m excited to start school next week.

DO: Remind us where?

PM: Creighton Heider School of Business, I’m getting my MBA.

DO: Awesome, Go Jays!

PM: (chuckles) Exactly!

DO: Thanks for your time, this has been great.

PM: No, thank you!