By now, hopefully you have had the chance to read at least one of my lawyer stories series of blog posts where I interview Notre Dame lawyers and ask them questions about their career path, what their day to day life is like, and advice they have for law students. This blog post is another iteration of my lawyer stories series and the fourth in my series of interviews with your very own Notre Dame Law School Career Development Office staff.
Each counselor in the CDO has a different background, career path, life experience, and of course, personality. NDLS students are always welcome to meet with any counselor you wish and so I thought it would be helpful to give you some deeper personal insight into each of the counselors in our office. Additionally, because all of us counselors in the CDO are lawyers, these blog posts will be useful in the same way other lawyer stories blog posts are helpful; by providing insight into a specific career path within the law and showing you how a particular lawyer’s career path has progressed.
With no further ado, here is my interview with NDLS’s very own Assistant Director of Career Development, Ed D’Arcy:
KMB: What made you go to law school?
ED: The summer after I graduated from high school, my uncle was an attorney and invited me to stay with him for a week while he was trying a personal injury case. The first day I went to court, the Judge said you’re going to come into my chambers and we’re going to discuss everything about the case from voir dire to the trial itself so you see every facet of the case. My uncle won a half million dollar verdict after a five day trial, which stood for years as the largest verdict in that county. After seeing that trial, I was hooked.
KMB: Remind me where you want to law school?
ED: I went to night school at Chicago-Kent while working full-time during the day. I worked as an industrial sales manager. Then, I quit because the job had no flexibility and I worked as a law clerk instead.
KMB: What was your first job out of law school?
ED: A 12 man insurance defense firm.
KMB: What made you pursue a career in insurance defense?
ED: I knew I liked civil litigation and you made more money going into insurance defense than plaintiff’s work at that time. I was married with a two year old so I had to make more money and that was the route there.
KMB: Did you like insurance defense and how did your career progress from there?
ED: I loved it. I was at that firm for four years. After that, I transitioned to a one hundred man civil litigation firm, Johnson & Bell, in Chicago. I was there for fourteen years. Then, I got tired of the politics and bureaucracy of a big firm and I went back to the same firm where I started out of law school. My last stop was another 12 person firm that I got into through a good friend of mine. I started the Indiana office of that firm because a client wanted to start sending us Indiana work. I opened the Valparaiso office and hired an associate to work there with me.
KMB: What made you want to take the job here at Notre Dame?
ED: I went to undergraduate here, my father went to school here, my grandfather went to school here, and my son went to school here. Working at ND has always been a bucket list type thing for me and I didn’t want to end up just being an usher in the football stadium. When I had an opportunity to use my background as an attorney to come work at Notre Dame, as much as I loved civil litigation, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
KMB: How do you like working in the CDO?
ED: Interacting with students is like the fountain of youth. Having managed middle aged associates who have concerns about everything from billable hours to the status of their cases to family issues, they are not the most energetic, enthusiastic people in the world. Young law students are energetic and enthusiastic.
KMB: What advice do you have for law students?
ED: Don’t do what you think you should do. Do what you want to do. Just because somebody tells you to be a big law attorney doesn’t mean you have to do it.
I second chaired a big construction case 14 months after getting sworn in and had 85 cases of my own by the end of year two. Starting your career outside of a big firm is not a bar to entering a big firm forever. If you want to enter a big firm later, you can. You can segue experiences into a bigger firm.
KMB: What are your hobbies?
ED: Golf, following the Chicago White Sox, Bears, and all Notre Dame Sports.
KMB: Tell me about your family.
ED: I have a wife, Linda, who graduated from St. Mary’s the same year I graduated from Notre Dame. My daughter, Kristy, graduated from St. Mary’s in 2002. My son, Brian, graduated from Notre Dame in 2008 and played on the Notre Dame hockey team. We have a westie named Mike.
We’re moving north of campus soon and moving out of Valparaiso. My wife is an independent travel agent.
KMB: What is the best live show you’ve ever seen?
ED: The Rolling Stones at Soldier Field
If you want to talk about careers in litigation, insurance defense, Chicago, moving from small to big firms, westies, and Notre Dame football, Ed would love to meet you!