“My Story” Featuring Patricia H. Thompson, Esq.
Patricia H. Thompson, Esq., joined JAMS after 46 years of trial, arbitration and appellate practice. She uses her experience and preparation to help all parties in a mediation assess risk, value claims and make informed decisions as to the best avenues of resolution.
Paving a Professional Path
Ms. Thompson began her career in construction law, but the way it happened was a bit of a fluke.
“In law school, I needed to fill my schedule with one more class, and the only one that fit was something called Mortgages and Suretyship. When I was hired at my first firm, they could not believe I understood something as arcane as suretyship, so they immediately put me in the construction practice group.”
Despite the fact that she was the first woman the firm had hired and that construction was a male-dominated field, she loved it and thrived.
Respect for Fair Resolutions
Some of Ms. Thompson’s favorite memories as a trial attorney for 40 years come from the courtroom.
“There’s such drama,” she says. “Of course, I loved when we won, but I also remember every loss we should have won.”
She believes these experiences shaped her to love the process of resolving disputes.
“I care about how you do it. I care about doing it well and fairly because I know how important the disputes are to counsel and the parties.”
A Force for Change
In her first year of practice, Ms. Thompson was required to attend an American Bar Association meeting in New York about construction law. Several decades later, she was the chair of the ABA organization that put on that meeting.
She wasted no time making changes that she would have appreciated when she first attended.
“I started a women’s group in that organization. I very gently required that all of the programs the committee put on would be diverse, both as to gender and ethnicity. I appointed young lawyers to positions of responsibility and gave them opportunities to speak. I went out of my way to welcome new attendees, especially young women. I wanted to make this organization a place where new and young people felt welcome and could flourish.”
She attributes countless career successes to the self-confidence she developed and the friendships she made in that role.
The Importance of Finding a Niche
Ms. Thompson’s advice for success to those wondering how they might get along in the practice of law is, “Associate yourself with people who are kind, honest and willing to help you, and then try to act exactly the same way toward those you work with.”
She also encourages prospective lawyers to find a niche.
“Work hard. Learn something that’s a niche, something that nobody else around you knows how to do nearly as well as you. Because when you become indispensable, when you prove yourself to be reliable, you can reach new levels of success you would not have imagined.”
One of Ms. Thompson’s favorite quotations is from Charles Spurgeon, who said something to the effect of, “With perseverance, even the snails made it on the ark.” She believes, however, that they probably had a little help.
This combination of hard work and accepting and offering help along the way has led Ms. Thompson to a fulfilling and successful career and allowed her to help many people throughout her life.
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