Current association: Frost Brown Todd LLP (Louisville, KY)
Past associations: Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. (Washington, D.C.)
Law School: Yale Law School (1994)
Undergraduate: University of Louisville (B.A., 1991)
Spouse: Tara Hagerty (Family Court Judge; Married 28+ years)
Children: Jack (Age 25; Special Projects Manager for a logistics brokerage)
Home: Louisville, Kentucky
Favorite restaurant in Louisville: The Fishery on Lexington Road. It’s a concrete block building that does simple, classic, Louisville-style fried fish and all the usual fixins (cole slaw, chicken and dumplings, great vegetable soup, etc.). As an Irish Catholic, I can’t pass up a good fish fry, and the Fishery has the best in Louisville.
EMLF Involvement: President (2019-2020), Vice President (2018-2019), Treasurer (2016-2018), Executive Committee (2012-2022), Trustees Council (2010-present), numerous presentations at the Annual Institute and Fall Symposium.
You have spent all of your career counseling clients on environmental laws. How did you get involved in this area? It was fairly serendipitous. I had some exposure to environmental issues in my undergraduate political science studies and wrote my senior thesis on solid waste disposal issues in Louisville, but I certainly did not head to law school with an expectation of practicing environmental law – or any other particular type of law for that matter. When interviewing for summer positions after my second year, I focused primarily on firms that specialized in either environmental or tax law, as I had enjoyed my classes in those areas. (That’s right! Tax law.) I ended up really liking the people at Beveridge & Diamond (an environmental boutique in D.C.), accepted a Summer Associate position there, and then received an offer for a permanent job. The rest is history. And I still believe that the most important factor in choosing a career path is to find a place where you like and respect the people; the rest will come naturally.
You grew up in Louisville, but went to law school outside Kentucky and then practiced law for a while in Washington, D.C. Now, you are back in Louisville. How did you like living in D.C.? My wife, Tara, and I had a ball living and working for about four years in D.C. We lived on the Red Line, just above Cleveland Park, and had all the advantages of that exciting and beautiful city. We rarely drove our car, enjoyed great restaurants and cultural amenities, regularly spotted various prominent people, and had interesting and challenging jobs (me with Beveridge & Diamond and Tara as a Senate staffer and a prosecutor for D.C.) I honestly thought we would be there for the long-term. But then our son was born in 1998, and suddenly our perspective changed. We realized how hard it is to live and work in the D.C. area while trying to raise a family. And so we decided to move back to Louisville, where our son would know his grandparents and have the pleasures of family that we both knew growing up. The legal practice is certainly different in Louisville, but it is no less challenging or rewarding. And at the end of the day, our family matters more than our jobs. Seeing Jack with his grandparents was enough to know we made the correct decision. So no regrets here.
Over the years, you have been very active in various energy or environmental law organizations. In particular, you have particularly committed a lot of time to EMLF and previously served as President, even though you had a busy law practice. Why? What has EMLF meant to you? Has your involvement had a positive effect on your career? My 20-plus years of work with EMLF have been among the most satisfying over the course of my career. On a purely material basis, my involvement with EMLF has resulted in multiple interesting, challenging and profitable legal engagements, and I am grateful to all those other EMLF members who trusted me and my firm with their legal needs. But even more, I treasure the friendships I have developed over more than two decades. From folks like Bob McLusky, Maureen Carman, and Sharon Daniels, who first invited me to become more active, to friends like Erin Magee, Natalie Jefferis, Kevin Colosimo, Anna Fletcher, and so many others (who should know that their omission here is merely the result of a shortage of space, not a lack of affection), I have developed more than mere professional acquaintances. EMLF is a place and an organization where you can develop deep, meaningful friendships while pursuing your career interests. It is that web of friendships that means the most to me.
Do you find time to travel for fun? Do you have a favorite place to visit? I love to travel and try to do it as much as my schedule allows. My favorite place on Earth is Glacier National Park – particularly the Many Glacier area on the east side. All I have to do is think of Swiftcurrent Lake, Grinnell Glacier, the Garden Wall or Iceberg Lake, and I can feel my blood pressure lowering. If you have not been there, I cannot recommend it enough. National parks are truly among America’s greatest assets. A close second would be the southwest of Ireland, particularly County Kerry. The combination of friendly people (but not too many people), rich culture, and gorgeous scenery make it a can’t-miss destination (even if you’re not a fair-skinned Irish-American like me).
Tell us about your pets? We have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, named Henry and Truman. They are spoiled lap dogs who cannot help but find their way into your heart. Henry is 10 years old and recently became the “senior” dog in the house when his older brother, Mac, died of cancer. We then brought Truman into the family to help fill the void. He’s nine months old and still a hyper little puppy who destroys nearly every toy he’s given. We are true Cavalier fanatics, with Cavalier art, pillows, statues, mugs, and other furnishings all over the house. It’s really their house, and we’re just living in it.
You have been practicing law for a while now and have had success. Is there any advice you would give to new lawyers and law students who are about to become lawyers?
My nearly 29 years of practice have convinced me of a few things:
- When choosing and pursuing a career path, forget about money. Money is fine, and it will come. But you should focus on finding joy and satisfaction in your career. If you do, happiness will follow, no matter how much money you make. And the money won’t seem nearly as important; you’ll find a way to make it work.
- Find a place to work where you enjoy and respect the people. You will be seeing them more than you see your family, so you’d better like them. Again, money won’t make up for workplace misery.
- Recognize that you will never know all you need to know, and even when you are closing in on three decades of practice, you will still find weekly, and sometimes, daily that you don’t know all the answers – not by a long shot. It’s a cliché, but when folks say, “They call it practicing law for a reason,” there’s a lot of wisdom there. So never hesitate to say, “I don’t know,” and seek out help. That’s what good lawyers do.