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Why DLA Piper's co-CEO ended up in San Diego (Hint: it’s a numbers thing)


DLA Piper’s global co-CEO J. Terence O’Malley is exactly where he wants to be.

O’Malley grew up in Omaha, Neb., and decided he wanted to live in San Diego while attending college at Notre Dame, according to a profile by U-T San Diego. O’Malley explained why in an interview with the columnist.

“At Notre Dame, I kept track on the wall by my bunk of the consecutive days I had gone without seeing the sun,” O’Malley said. “I got to 30 and said, ‘That’s enough.’ I sat on the floor of my dorm room and planned the rest of my life. I figured out that San Diego had the lowest mean temperature variation and was one of the fastest-growing cities. And you could go to Mexico in 10 minutes and drink beer. It sounded like a pretty good deal, so I decided I would end up in San Diego.”

O’Malley attended Stanford Law School and then joined a San Diego law firm, Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye, which became part of DLA Piper as a result of a three-way merger in 2005. O’Malley was away from Gray Cary for five years when he was executive vice president for Noble Broadcast Group, but he returned the firm in 1992.

He tells U-T San Diego that he learned about the value of hard work as a youth, when he was told he would have to have a job beginning at age 14. “I worked in a snack bar, in a factory, and I worked construction as a laborer,” he said.

Now O’Malley is “the boss of 4,400 lawyers, enough to invade a small country,” the story says. “Worldwide, his firm specializes in serving international commerce. Litigation is a bread-and-butter specialty, which means they’ll see you in court. Litigators are the Jesuits of the law, terrier-like defenders of the faith.”

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