Patrick H. Reilly represents titans including the National Football League and the National Hockey League. But he also is hailed as a team player who can score with product liability matters and in cutting-edge practice areas such as drone law. He also is active in efforts to promote diversity in the legal profession and the community.
How did you get involved in sports law, and what appeals to you about it?
I’m fortunate to be at a firm with a proud tradition of sports law. We’ve represented the NFL and Olympic sport governing bodies for years, and two of our former partners are now athletic directors at prominent universities (Fred Glass at Indiana University, and Jack Swarbrick at Notre Dame). Five years ago, I bugged one of our partners in Minneapolis to get me involved in a big case we had defending the NFL, and that persistence paid off. I liked it so much that I decided to invest in building relationships in sports.
When did you first decide you would become a lawyer, and what motivated you?
I’m not someone who always knew he wanted to be a lawyer. I decided during my senior year of undergrad, realizing too late that majoring in history, philosophy and French had limited my career options.
Who is someone who inspired or mentored you, and what did you learn from them?
Being a typical lawyer, I can’t simply answer the question with just one name. My colleague, Andrea Pierson, and my client and friend, Melanie Margolin, have both inspired and mentored me, as they have countless others. They are thoughtful, inclusive, courageous and collaborative. I have tried to soak up their ways as much as possible.
What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your practice?
Being able to collaborate with my colleagues to build relationships and solve problems for clients.
What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not in the office?
Spending time with my family (wife, two kids, and a dog).
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Hopefully still enjoying the practice of law and maintaining the relationships I’ve cultivated in the profession.
What’s something about you not many people know?
My wife and I both played soccer at Butler University. Between us, we’ve torn all four of our ACLs.
What are some of the things you believe law firms can do to better promote diversity in the profession?
Lead from the front. Don’t just take cues from our clients. That should include being thoughtful about staffing matters and internal leadership positions with diversity in mind. We must remember that diversity is not just about the color of our skin, our ethnicity, our gender, our religion, etc. It is also about our perspective, background, opinions, and ideas. The more we have of each, the better off we are.
How do you see the legal profession changing in the next decade?
I see the billable hour being the exception, not the rule.
What was your most memorable job before becoming an attorney?
I was a substitute teacher a handful of times prior to law school. The kids walked all over me. That experience gave me a true appreciation for teachers like my wife and mom who are able to manage a classroom and inspire their students.
If you hadn’t pursued a legal career, what would you be doing instead?
Not teaching, that’s for sure.•