When not juggling labor and employment law cases, Patrick J. Maher finds time to read and run.
But free time is rare for an attorney going the extra mile for a growing roster of clients. Maher is now in his 21st year with Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller LLP in Fort Worth.
Maher has earned accolades not only at his current firm but also for previous chapters in his career. Those include serving as clerk for Judge Joseph Sneed of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, followed by time with firms in San Francisco and Dallas.
Maher is certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a Fellow with the College of Labor and Employment Law Attorneys.
He previously served as chairman of the State Bar of Texas Labor and Employment and Law Section and was founding chairman of the Tarrant County Bar Labor and Employment Law Section.
Community involvement also fills Maher’s time. He has served on the board of directors of the Chisholm Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross and the board of trustees of the University of Dallas and has been lector at Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Arlington.
Which legal case in American history do you see as the most influential? Why?
There actually are two, which are bookends to each other. The Dred Scott decision cemented the institution of slavery and led to the Civil War. The Brown v. Board of Education decision ended nearly a century of legal segregation in this country and jump-started a new round of civil rights. Both reshaped American society, for better or worse..
What inspired you to become an attorney?
In the practice of law, I saw a unique blend of intellectual challenges, business opportunities and the ability to help people with problems in a very personal way.
What is your most significant professional achievement?
There have been many results for which I felt proud. Perhaps the one that stands out in my mind was when, as a very young associate, I filed a motion to dismiss that convinced Judge Mary Lou Robinson in the Northern District of Texas to dismiss all class action allegations in a sex discrimination lawsuit at the very outset of the case. The plaintiffs and their lawyers had already lost a race discrimination class action lawsuit and were trying to get a second bite at the apple in the guise of a sex discrimination claim. The prior case had cost our client well over a million dollars in legal fees (which was a lot of money in 1984). We were able to stop this effort in its tracks.
What motivates you?
Each day is full of new issues. No matter how long you practice law, it never gets old because the issues are never the same.
What are the major challenges facing young attorneys?
The modern practice of law has become more of a business than a profession. In addition, the costs of lawsuits have skyrocketed and clients are increasingly unwilling to pay. As a result, young attorneys have a much more difficult time finding a true mentoring relationship and getting the opportunity to obtain hands-on, real world experience trying cases, handling depositions, dealing with clients, etc.
Do you have a specialty area of practice?
I am board certified in labor and employment law and a past chairman of the State Bar of Texas’ and Tarrant County Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law sections.
– A. Lee Graham