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Spotlight - New Zelle Hofmann Partner Shannon O'Malley

Posted on Monday, January 17, 2011

Spotlight - New Zelle Hofmann Partner Shannon O`Malley

When did you decide to pursue a career in the legal field? Did you have an "ah ha"¯ moment?

My dad tells me that I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 5 years old. But I remember deciding to go into law in high school when I was filling out applications to college. I love history and English but did not want to teach. I looked into what professions would best translate from those majors and the best fit for me was the law. Once I was in college and took the required liberal arts classes, such as philosophy, ethics, and certain pre-law classes, I knew the legal profession was the right choice.

How do you find that important work/life balance in your daily life?

Honestly, I have a constant struggle with work/life balance. I am single, so I tend to work late or ignore social obligations when work interferes. But I consciously try to keep a balance between working and my family and friends. Getting into running recently has significantly helped me with that balance by providing a structured program for me to follow that, luckily, also involves a lot of social interaction.

As highlighted in our recent feature -Women Who Go the Distance,- it's apparent running is one of your hobbies. What are your other passions (aside from law of course)? Shannon with her family at a recent Kansas City Chiefs game

I am an avid Kansas City Chiefs fan and try to attend as many home games (or even away games) as possible. Because most of my family is in Kansas City, and are also avid fans, I get to see them often. I also enjoy playing intramural sports here in Dallas and spending time with my friends and dog, Kelly.

Do you think that women and men have different paths to success and different challenges to being successful in law? How do you describe the differences?

I think that whether you are a man or a woman, to succeed in the law, you must be dedicated, passionate, and genuinely interested in your work and your client's cause.

Are there ways that being a woman helps you in your work?

My cases are generally commercial litigation disputes, which should not involve a lot of emotion. But I've been told that I get more excited about coverage issues and perceived inequities applied against my clients than others in this field. I think my emotional attachment to my clients and the cases brought against them helps me to represent them more zealously and to focus my attention in the case on what is in my client's best interest. In my opinion, some of this insight and passion comes from being a woman.

Shannon and her dog, Kelly What advice would you give a fellow Zealous Woman beginning her legal career?

Get interested in your work and don't be afraid to ask questions. Also, develop and cultivate relationships with the lawyers (both seasoned and new) in your firm. Those relationships will help you develop into a stronger lawyer and person.

What was your most memorable (good or bad) legal assignment ever?

I've had a number of memorable assignments, but my most memorable moment was when I was a fourth year associate. I drafted and argued a motion for summary judgment in a case where I was the lead associate. The judge granted my motion from the bench. As I drove home, singing "We are the Champions,"¯ my opposing counsel pulled up next to me at a light and congratulated me. It was a great day and great result.

If you could describe your career path in one word, what would it be?

Challenging.

If you had it to do all over again, would you change your career path? If so, what would you have wanted to do instead?

Sometimes I think that I would have liked to be a professor in English or History, but I think my personality is perfectly suited for the legal profession. I may try to be a judge some day, but that will be far in the future.

Any specific goals (either personal or professional) for the coming year?

I'd like to develop stronger relationships with my clients. I also plan to run the New York Marathon in November. I hope that my personal best marathon time will significantly improve.