By Teresa Killeen
Washtenaw County Bar Association
An alumnus of the Detroit College of Law, Patrick M. Carmody, Jr. practices probate law, estate planning, social security disability, and workers compensation law; his law office is in Saline.
Did you always know you wanted to be an attorney?
I wanted to be an attorney ever since I saw a television show called Harrigan and Son, a sitcom in 1960. The basic premise was that the senior Harrigan insisted on a human angle on defending his clients while his son, James, Jr., a recent Harvard graduate, believed defending clients had to be done strictly by the book. Ever since that time I knew that I wanted to be an attorney.
Where did you earn your law degree?
I received my law degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1981 in a graduating class of 25 students. We were the ‘great experiment’ by the law school. According to what we were told, normally there would be 150 students entered into each class and by the time the class worked its way through law school, two or three would have dropped out or moved on to other things. The law school told us they picked the best 50 applicants to our class to see if they could keep all of the students. By the end of the first year, we were down to 25 students, the size of our graduating class.
What jobs did you previously hold?
Before I became an attorney, I had three different paper routes: for the Warrendale Courier, a local paper for the Warrendale area of Detroit; for the Detroit Free Press; and for the Detroit News. During the newspaper strike, I got a job with Jesse Douglas Roofing doing hot tar roofs. I also worked in a couple different gas stations pumping gas, changing oil, and similar tasks.
My first year of college I had a job at Detroit Metro Airport, first in ‘flight food’ for the Christmas rush, and then working the midnight shift in an airport restaurant. I would clean tables, mop the floor, refill pop machines and work behind the counter when the regular worker was on break.
During the summers for several years, I worked for a company installing water and sewer pipes. I was a laborer and worked at the ‘top of the hole’ preparing the pipes to be lowered in and things of that nature.
I also worked as a security guard for a company. I was stationed at Michigan Consolidated Gas and worked two 12-hour shifts on Fridays and Saturdays letting workers in and out of the yard and doing a review of the premises to make sure no one was breaking in.
When I was an undergrad, I worked for Frito Lay, first in the shipping and receiving department and worked my way up to being a machine operator. I worked there during the strike of 1976—the Bicentennial.
Tell us a little about your family.
My father was born in Castlemaine, Ireland, and my mother was born in Castleisland, about 29 miles apart. However, they did not meet until they had both come to America. My mom was sponsored by her uncle and my dad sailed to Canada. After working a year in Canada on various farms my dad crossed over the Detroit River into Detroit, with plans to travel with his cousin to California. Instead, my mom and dad met at an Irish club in Detroit called the Gaelic League, got married, and had three boys.
What would your second career choice have been?
My major at the University of Detroit was Communications. I always thought I would end up in radio as a disk jockey.
What is your favorite movie?
Groundhog Day. There is a saying that ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.’ This movie captures the essence of that. It isn’t until the protagonist (Phil Connors) begins to see how he can help others that things change for him.
What are some favorite places you have visited?
I have been to Ireland, and it was a wonderful experience. Except, while driving I sideswiped a car. As a result, I was never able to get to see either of my parents’ homes and I plan on going back again.
Another favorite place is Toronto, Canada where I went to see The Phantom of the Opera. I have also been on several sea cruises around the Caribbean.
Why do you choose to be a member of the WCBA? What is the greatest benefit you have enjoyed?
I practiced for almost 20 years in Wayne County, at the Law Firm of Rock and Borgelt. Over the years I had cases in Washtenaw County. I had not spent a great deal of time here, however an attorney I knew was retiring and had a practice in Saline. I decided to open my practice in Saline and see if I could make my law practice work.
The lawyers in Washtenaw County were extremely kind and generous with their assistance and many of them suggested one of the ways to become involved in the community, continue with a good legal education, and have other events where I could meet with many of the other lawyers, would be to become part of the Washtenaw County Bar Association, which I did shortly after coming to the area.
One of the greatest benefits is the camaraderie, helpfulness, and the generous nature of the various members of the Bar. If I need to bounce ideas, discuss new strategies or anything else regarding the practice of law, there are a number of people whom I have met through the Washtenaw County Bar Association that are more than happy to lend a hand.
Reprinted with permission from the WCBA newsletter Res Ipsa Loquitur