Lynette Carrington 2014-07-03 06:08:15
Celebrating its first anniversary, the McBride Law Firm is off to an extraordinary start. With its principal, Melanie McBride, living up to her recent recognition as a Southwest Super Lawyer, the firm could not be doing better. But the path behind McBride is anything but straight. “I never considered going to law school. I grew up watching ‘Matlock’ and ‘Perry Mason,’ but I never envisioned that as a career for myself,” said McBride. “Smart people are lawyers, and I didn’t fall into that category. But during the fall of my senior year at ASU, I began to panic at the thought of graduating and having to get a real job. I decided I couldn’t let that happen, so I devised a plan to stay in college. I took the GRE and sought the advice of my guidance counselor after receiving the results. She suggested law school citing my high scores on the analytical and logical reasoning portion of the test. When she said law school would take three years versus a year or two getting a master’s degree, I made up my mind, law school it is. McBride continued, “The next thing I knew, I was on my way to take a test called the LSAT. I figured it was like the GRE; you just go in and take it. But when I got there, the other test takers were discussing the different review courses they had taken to prepare for the LSAT. One girl even had a large LSAT study book with her. One of the guys asked me which review course I attended, and I told him I hadn’t done anything to study for the LSAT. I got a lot of strange looks and a few eye-rolls. But I did pretty well, perhaps because I didn’t psych myself out beforehand.” She decided she wanted to attend law school in Boston and chose Suffolk Law School because it was technologically advanced and had a focus on juvenile law. Off she went to Boston. GETTING INTO THE LAW GROOVE “I loved law school. I had always hated school, but for some reason I loved law school,” McBride said. A second generation native Phoenician, McBride had a bit of an adjustment while going to school in Boston. “Just before I moved to Boston I saw ‘Legally Blonde.’ I left the theater thinking ‘Oh crap, what if Boston is really like that; am I going to be viewed as a dumb blonde from the southwest by my northeastern classmates!’ I can tell you, Boston is almost exactly as portrayed in the movie; it is a whole different world out there.” Unfortunately, 9/11 happened within only a few weeks of McBride’s first year of law school, “My mom insisted I come home immediately. She said Boston was too dangerous,” she said. But McBride stayed in Boston. “Before I left Phoenix I found out my brother and his friends had placed a wager on how long I would last in law school before I would come running home and I was not about to prove any of them right even if my return was due to a terrorist attack, so I stayed put,” she explained. After graduating with honors, McBride returned to Phoenix. “I was very sad to leave Boston as it had grown on me considerably,” she said. “I loved the changes in seasons, and even the snow. I had become an avid Red Sox fan and Patriots fan and had developed many close friendships. But my entire family lived in Phoenix, including my baby nephew and niece, so I returned home.” A PROGRESSIVE APPROACH After experiencing more traditional law firm environments, McBride has sought to do things differently at her own firm. “I had the great privilege of learning how to practice law from many extraordinary attorneys during my time at Gust Rosenfeld, especially from my mentor, Dick Segal,” she said. “The decision to leave Gust Rosenfeld to experience other work environments was very difficult to make. Thanks to the support of my family, friends and loyal clients, I decided to start my own firm and have been truly blessed in doing so. While it was intimidating at first, I was able to settle a series of cases within the first few months, and haven’t looked back since.” McBride described the work environment at her firm as fun and easygoing. “Our firm handles primarily catastrophic personal injury cases, including wrongful death, products liability, and medical malpractice,” she explained. “With the subject matter of many of our cases, the hardships our clients face can feel disheartening at times, and the workload can seem overwhelming. So we try to keep the atmosphere light and upbeat. We get our work done, but have fun doing so.” When asked what she loves most about practicing law, McBride replied, “I love going to trial, especially jury trials. If I could spend each day in trial, my life would be perfect. In fact, I am quite disappointed when a case settles. If it is in the best interest of my clients, I will suggest settling, but that does not mean I am happy about it one bit.” One reason she loves going to trial is to hold people accountable for the injury they caused her clients. McBride stated, “When a case settles, it is usually the insurance company paying the settlement with the wrongdoer getting off scot-free. But if the defendant is hauled into court, he has to sit in front of a jury of his peers and face what he has done to my clients and hear the anguish my clients suffer on a daily basis due to his or her greed or gross negligence. Typically in the end, the insurance company pays the amount of the jury verdict anyway, but at least I get the satisfaction of making the defendant face what he has done to my clients.” Attorney Keith Gernant joined the firm in May. “Keith is a business law and sports law attorney and is definitely one of the hardest-working people I know,” said McBride. “He worked full time while in law school and did extremely well. He has a significant background in accounting-related matters, which is very helpful to the firm.” When asked, Gernant stated, “I decided to attend law school after going to my younger brother’s law school graduation. I saw the prestige that being a lawyer carried and knew I wanted to be a lawyer myself. I feel honored to be part of such a respected profession and a highly-regarded firm.” In the first year as The McBride Law Firm, the demand for the firm’s service has been intense. “I have so much work that I’ve had to refer cases out and hire additional help, not that I’m complaining,” she said. “It’s a good thing to have too much work.” McBride noted that her firm is on a growth trajectory and she anticipates that she’ll be bringing in new attorneys and staff to her firm in the coming years.
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