After 37 years of law practice, Kathleen McCarthy, 61, still finds the same amount of satisfaction and joy in helping people that she did when she first started.
McCarthy majored in speech and communication during her undergraduate. While at the University of Arizona, she often debated policy issues and took some law courses.
“I got hooked on justice,” said McCarthy. “There is an incredible power and beauty. For better or for worse, it comes out of the way law is decided, not on the political level but the justice level.”
From there she went onto law school in 1973, around the time that Roe vs. Wade and Title IX had occurred. McCarthy says that she was part of the “first big class of women to hit across the country of lawyers and doctors.” It was through this time that McCarthy knew that she had a desire to make a difference in the world.
Upon graduation, many women struggled to find jobs, including McCarthy. So she opened up her own law firm and by the fifth year started specializing in family law. She is now going on her 37th year of practice with five lawyers and eight full-time supporter staff.
In family law, McCarthy works with clients who want a divorce. Through her years of experience she has realized she must uphold integrity and keep her word to do what she is going to do what she says she will do.
“I have people come in here with very personal information,” said McCarthy. “There is a level of trust there. You need to listen and engage with your clients. That helps them relax and the process is then more efficient.”
McCarthy says her profession allows her to help people, which is one of the most rewarding aspects of it.
“You see people grow in the process of a divorce,” said McCarthy. “They become happier and content and more secure in their own being.”
Even with many positives to the job, McCarthy admits that dealing with other attorney’s can be difficult or having people come in with unrealistic expectations.
“The process can be a 60 day minimum, but typically it takes about a year,” said McCarthy. “Some people don’t always realize that.”
When asked how long McCarthy will continue to practice law she smiles and says:
“I use to think there was some magical expiration date,” said McCarthy. “My health is good, I have a lot of energy, and I get an enormous amount of satisfaction with it. So what’s not to love? You have to do something with your life.”