Living the Law

Living the Law

The maths doesn’t add up. Which activates a question: “how old have been you whilst you have become a lawyer?” dowd leans back in his chair and says rely-of-factly: “oh, approximately 9 or 10.” whilst formative years pals had been busy putting baseball playing cards within the spokes of their motorcycles, dowd was being delivered to the circle of relatives business: law. He listened to and found out from his father, michael, and his uncles, james and joseph, who had been companions at a thriving practice focusing on insurance and legal responsibility defense. Dowd’s uncles based the company in 1950. “that’s all my dad and uncles did—they lived it,” says dowd. “at the dinner desk, the verbal exchange became usually regulation, and it was continually loud.” now 54, dowd is sporting at the culture. No longer only is he a “loud dowd”—much to his wife’s chagrin, he notes—he additionally runs the own family company, dowd & dowd, that's positioned in chicago’s loop and has 20 legal professionals. He in no way doubted that his existence could turn out this manner. As a boy of 7 or 8, dowd might sometimes arise within the middle of the night. “to get to the washroom at my house, you’d have to go past the kitchen,” he remembers. “at 2 o’clock, i’d see my dad at the kitchen table. Then i’d arise at 4 o’clock and see him. Then i’d come back at 6 o’clock, and he’d nevertheless be there. One night time, i said, ‘what are you doing?’ he said, ‘i’m considering plenty of things no one’s ever going to invite me.’ i knew then what i wanted to do: i desired to be an ordeal legal professional.” why? “i just got here out [of this thinking]: that is any individual who wants to do the right issue,” dowd says. “you appearance up for your father.” the more youthful dowd labored at his father’s company for the duration of regulation school at depaul college; after passing the bar in 1985, his father threw him directly into the hearth. “my first trial become two weeks after i used to be certified,” says dowd. “my dad came as much as me and said, ‘you’re representing the catholic bishop. Don’t screw it up, kid, because we’ve had [this client] for almost 40 years.’” the scenario was this, dowd says: the church had allowed a set to apply its gymnasium and a father within the stands provoked his son into attacking another participant. That participant were given a verdict against the son and father, however dowd received a directed verdict for the archdiocese. “i don't forget it adore it became the day past,” he says. Considering then, dowd has received prominence defending against catastrophic loss, especially inside the region of transportation. He become named in 2009 to the yankee college of transportation legal professionals, an elite organization for which he serves as treasurer. “his father changed into a first-rate legal professional and a very good man,” says joe electricity, a plaintiff’s lawyer who's a accomplice at electricity rogers & smith. “the apple did not fall some distance from the tree. Patrick and i have settled some instances. He's a straight shooter, honest however no longer overly generous. He's going to try a case if he has to, but is sensible sufficient together with his offer that he frequently is able to keep away from his client having to engage in that risk-tasking.” however dowd loves being in the thick of a tribulation. He has tried more or less seventy five instances, of which he estimates that he has gained 80 percent, earning a popularity as a formidable presence inside the court docket. “patrick is properly-organized, honest and a terrific storyteller,” says mark mcnabola, a partner at mcnabola law group who has gone up in opposition to dowd. “he builds credibility over the route of producing his evidence, just as he says he'll at the onset. Like any instances, you want to have the facts for your facet, and he deals with in particular hard defendants—in that maximum of the population doesn’t have a warm spot for, say, truck drivers who're worried in a catastrophic twist of fate. He’s typically starting at the back of the eight ball and has to conquer that.” no longer tremendously, dowd’s court docket style become motivated significantly by means of his father and other neighborhood trial lawyers of that era. He rattles off the names of those vintage-time attorneys—c. Barry montgomery, tom tobin, philip corboy, bob cooney, neil quinn, invoice johnson—like they’re frank sinatra or dean martin. Then he smiles wistfully as he remembers looking them perform on their courtroom degrees. “it become like being across the ‘rat p. C.,’” dowd says. “all the ones men hung out collectively. It was a one-of-a-kind time. I’d sit down in on those trials, and it was like mastering from the satisfactory.” commonly, dowd found out that legal responsibility defense changed into an all-eating project, a challenge he met head-on when he began practising. If he needed to go to a dicey neighborhood to serve a subpoena or take a assertion, so be it. If he had to power 90 miles to rockford at three a. M. Because a person crashed a bike into the lower back of a truck, so be it. “i inform this to young lawyers all the time: ‘if this is what you want to do, you’ve were given to like it,’” dowd says. “you could’t be [like] your neighbor—it’s now not a nine-to-5 process. If that’s what you want, that’s great, but this is not the location to be able to come or the vicinity in that you must practice. It’s a business wherein there’s a propensity for humans to now not tell the reality, and you have to get to the truth. To do this kind of litigation correctly, you have to be willing to get down in the dust.” dowd strains his depth, in element, to his enjoy gambling soccer at loyola academy in suburban chicago and then at northern arizona college. “i knew very early on in football that i was going to have to prepare greater, paintings more difficult,” dowd says. “i used to be 5'9" and gambling defensive again. That intended i would ought to be smarter, faster and more difficult. There would need to be something that might convey me over. After that, it turned into a real smooth transition into regulation, as it’s all field.” his biggest test didn’t come in the court—it occurred while his father died of most cancers in 1996. Now not most effective had michael been dowd’s mentor, he had also served as managing associate of dowd & dowd for the previous two decades. At simply 37, the younger dowd took price of the company that his family had spent many years constructing. It was as though he should listen his father pronouncing, “don’t screw it up, child.” the firm persevered. Nowadays, the main companies on dowd & dowd’s consumer roster range from liberty mutual coverage institution, tourists coverage and gallagher bassett to schneider country wide inc., existence time fitness inc., and einstein bros. Bagels. “when my dad died, now not one customer left, which was substantial due to the fact he become one of these presence,” dowd says. “i nevertheless have the ones clients today, and i say, ‘thank god you stuck with me.’ there are quite a few firms, and i was young. Once i walk faraway from this and look returned, as a way to be very important to me.” authentic to form, michael made certain his son changed into well prepared to take the reins of the company. Recognized with lung most cancers in 1991, he was given six months to live however hung on for any other 5 years. By way of march 1996, he was seriously weakened. But he wanted to impart one very last lesson to his son. He took on a plaintiff’s case with dowd in which a lady were killed in a automobile coincidence, leaving in the back of 5 children. “my dad always idea it changed into suitable to strive a plaintiff’s case each from time to time,” dowd says. “this become a wrongful dying case. He stated he changed into going to do it for this own family, and it related to our own family due to the fact we had six children. His most cancers became so bad that he couldn’t get off the bed to exercise his last. So i said, ‘i’ll put a chair by the podium. If you have to take a seat down, you have to sit down.’ standard of my dad, he didn’t want the chair. He gave the remaining and the rebuttal, and he gained a multimillion-greenback verdict. About 5 weeks later, he died. He wouldn’t have had it some other manner.” sir bernard law, a founding accomplice at williams 1st viscount montgomery of alamein & john who has tried more than 150 instances to verdict over the direction of his 50-12 months profession, is a member of the “rat %” that dowd idolized. “patrick is not handiest the inheritor to a pleasant popularity, however he’s doing an tremendous activity himself,” says bernard law montgomery. Meaning long hours: dowd is at work via 7 a. M. And usually doesn’t leave till 7 p. M. He additionally involves the office every saturday, which he calls his “downtime.” like his father and uncles before him, he lives the regulation. He is likewise lively within the prison community, together with the trucking coverage defense association, serving as chairman of the 1,800-plus-member institution’s industry seminar in 2012. Dowd cites any other plaintiff’s case, this one from the early 1990s, that he took on seasoned bono at the request of the chicago bar association. It involved a young lady, his consumer, from a broken domestic who became hit through a cab and suffered a badly fractured hip. Dowd scored a giant agreement for his patron from the cab organization, but the case didn’t end there. “this is a true story about the first-rate a part of this business,” he says. Fearing that the woman’s dad and mom could expend the price range, he put the money into an annuity for her. “about 10 years later, my receptionist buzzed me to say that there was a younger female right here to look me. I walked out and noticed this beautiful character, and that i stated, ‘who are you?’ she instructed me her call, and it didn’t ring a bell. So she said, ‘years ago, you spend money on an account. I’m equipped to go to university, and that i need you to log out on this account so that i will get the cash.’ that money became going to get her commenced in lifestyles. It became an exquisite experience.” requested about his desires, dowd says, “it was once win, win, win. I suppose that’s regular while you’re younger. Now it’s a pair things. One is to do the very first-class process i'm able to for my purchaser and whatever takes place takes place—let the playing cards play out. The second is that it’s very vital for me to do the proper issue. I am going lower back to those corporations [represented by dowd & dowd], and i pay out thousands and thousands of bucks [on their behalf]. I have humans i’ve labored with for decades, and they believe my judgment in these regions. I’ve got to do the right thing. It’s a totally small circle in this commercial enterprise.”