Get to know WilliamsMcCarthy LLP Associate Patricia Hall a little better in this issue of “In the Spotlight.” We asked Patricia questions like what influenced her to become a lawyer, who are her professional and personal mentors, and what we might be surprised to learn about her.
When did you decide you wanted to be a lawyer?
It started early! Growing up, my mom always said to me, “You should become a lawyer – you’re very persuasive,” because I would negotiate punishments down for my siblings when they got into trouble. (laughing) I think I more seriously considered the legal profession when I formed a great relationship with a pastor at my church who was also a judge. I admired and respected him, and as a result, decided that I wanted to be a judge, too. Of course, back then I didn’t realize that to be a judge, one first needed to be an attorney. After he retired, we kept in contact. I enjoyed the mental gymnastics of debate in high school, and the idea of helping people using that skill was very appealing to me. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll still become a judge.
What made you choose to practice with WilliamsMcCarthy LLP?
I joined WilliamsMcCarthy because they have a strong reputation – they’re well-respected and skilled attorneys. I get to work every day with professionals who are knowledgeable, treat people well, and respect the law. At WilliamsMcCarthy, we have partners in the firm who can do just about anything so as an associate, I appreciate the opportunity to learn from the best and be exposed to areas of practice I might not otherwise experience. I also appreciate how involved the firm is in the community, which is important to me.
What areas of practice do you enjoy most and why?
I have focused my practice mainly on civil litigation, employment issues, and I very much enjoy appellate work. When you handle appeals, you are taking the evidence and trial level work and fitting it into a legal argument in support of your client’s position, much like a puzzle. I also very much enjoy the pro bono work I do for Prairie State Legal Services handling domestic violence and guardianship cases.
Do you have someone you look to for professional advice and insight?
I’m very fortunate to have several great mentors I can call on, depending on what I need. I’m developing good working relationships with the partners at WilliamsMcCarthy LLP, all of whom have been very willing to mentor and share their knowledge, which I appreciate. I also consider Wendy Vaughn, a lawyer and professor at NIU Law School who runs the Zeke Giorgi Civil Justice Clinic, a personal and professional mentor. In addition to being a fantastic female role model in the legal community, she’s got a strong heart and amazing life perspective. She’s an objective sounding board for life goals and professional balance, something I think we all need. Of course, my greatest mentor is my mom. She’s the hardest working and strongest woman I know.
What do you enjoy most about working and living in this region?
I grew up in Rockford, so it’s home for me. It’s funny, though, because I take so much for granted since I’ve lived here my whole life. I do, however, see the positive momentum and growth in our community, which is great to see. I feel like this region, and Rockford especially, is a “big little city,” which is nice as it relates to forming relationships. I’m so grateful I can practice close to my family, especially while my daughter is young.
How would your friends and family describe you?
I know I’ve been described as hard-working, tenacious, intelligent, outgoing, stubborn … probably persistent. Those qualities are definitely a part of my personality, but those who know me very well might also use the words “goofy,” or “silly.” We can’t be serious all the time, right?
Do you have any hobbies? When you’re not working, what would people find you doing?
I have a 2 year old, so sometimes it’s difficult to remember what my hobbies actually were before I had her. I very much enjoy time with my daughter and husband. When I do have a little time, I like to cook. I love watching Gordon Ramsay. I highly recommend his YouTube tutorials. I have always enjoyed crafty things and I’ve gotten into repurposing furniture recently – that’s a creative outlet.
You said you enjoy cooking. Do you have any specialties?
I love food in general, so I’m turning that passion into cooking instead of eating. I studied in France in law school, so I gained an appreciation for trying new things. I love attempting to prepare different ethnic dishes – Indian, Thai, French. I’m working to expand my repertoire.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I’m a huge NBA and Chicago Bulls fan. I went to my first game when I was 10. That was the year in between their three-peat championship win. Jordan wasn’t playing, but he was at the game. After that, I was a superfan. My bedroom was red and black, and I had giant Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and BJ Armstrong posters all over. I played basketball growing up so watching the NBA was life back then.
We know lives are busy. Any advice you can share on juggling your professional and personal life?
I’m not sure if I juggle everything perfectly every day, but we are very lucky to have a huge support system to help us. My family lives in Rockford and my mom actually lives with us, watches our daughter and helps manage the home needs. My husband’s mom lives in the area and my aunt is like another grandma to my daughter, which is great. My husband and I get to have date nights every Friday night, which we very much appreciate. I think everyone has to figure out what works for their professional and personal priorities. My priorities are my family and health, and I know that my professional work benefits when I take care of those things. I’ve always had an “all-in” personality, so now it is about balance.
If you have an out-of-town visitor, what are the “must see/do” things in Rockford?
The fall is my favorite season, and I really love going to Edwards Apple Orchard. I think we are very lucky to have some gems in terms of natural beauty and I enjoy Anderson Japanese Gardens and Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens. As the mom of a 2 year old, I’m thrilled to have the Discovery Center Museum so close. I love the City Market, as well – I’m anxious to see the Indoor City Market now that the summer season has ended.