Attorney Patrick Walsh would like to apologize for what he says is his most glaring flaw: His love for University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball.
Despite moving to Chattanooga last fall, a full season of local and regional college hoops hysteria failed to convert Walsh to a Mocs or Volunteers fan.
“UK fans are known for being emotional and living and dying with the team,” confesses Walsh, 33, adding the fault lies with his father.
“I didn’t become a fan voluntarily. I blame my dad and being born in Lexington and going to UK (for undergraduate school). Life conspired against me to throw my lot in with them.”
Walsh is joking about his Wildcat fandom being a character defect, of course. He’s also kidding when he says he’d like to blame genetics on his choice of career. He actually became a lawyer because he wanted to do something different from his father.
“I come from a family of teachers. And I didn’t want to follow in that tradition. I wanted to do things my way.”
Walsh initially considered working in the medical profession. He says Biology 101 cured him of that notion.
“I’d heard about weed-out classes – and that class weeded me out,” he laughs. “A lot of young folks go to college with the notion of becoming a doctor and then find out it’s not for them.”
Walsh preferred history and discovered it dovetailed nicely with his enjoyment of reading and writing. He also enjoyed the analysis involved and the way modern research tools and fresh thinking can recolor the past.
“Most people don’t realize history is alive and open to interpretation. Things that are literally written in stone can always be understood a different way.”
Walsh attended The University of Louisville School of Law and then remained in the city as he began to work.
Although Walsh says he had shown a flair for property law in class – he earned an award for having the highest grade in the subject out of 90 students – his initial foray into the practice of law involved pursuing claimant side class action mass torts.
“It was interesting work,” he notes. “Few people do it, and it’s high-stakes work because you’re representing a large group of folks. I was able to help with several cases that had a lot of media coverage and effected some change.”
In one matter launched in 2015, the firm for which Walsh worked sued an online fantasy sports app for allegedly skirting various state gambling laws.
“The … [defendant] was saying it wasn’t gambling because skill was involved. I believe they were still negotiating that as I was leaving. Those kinds of cases can go on forever.”
Walsh later seized an opportunity to join a boutique real estate firm out of a desire to shift his practice to a less adversarial area of the law.
“It was an opportunity to get in on the ground floor with folks who were at the top of their game and were kind enough to take a chance on me,” he recalls. “I must have killed the interview.”
Walsh says he enjoyed the work and the interactions involved in bringing a deal to the closing table – but he and his wife were eager to move closer to her family in Alabama. So, when a recruiter from Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel reached out to Walsh last year about a possible position in Chattanooga, he was open to moving.
“We’d visited Chattanooga before and liked it. It couldn’t have worked out better.”
Today, Walsh maintains a commercial real estate practice focused on representing buyers, sellers and lenders in transactions involving multifamily, retail and warehouse sites. He often helps clients obtain financing and assists them with reviewing and negotiating leases.
Walsh says he also works as an extension of his clients’ teams by identifying new projects and capitalizing on development opportunities.
His work is far from done when he leaves his office downtown and makes the short commute to his Northshore home, though. As the husband of Baker Donelson labor and employment attorney Ashby Angell and the proud father of “two bouncing baby boys,” his inbox at home is piled high when he arrives.
“The experience has been overwhelming but wonderful,” Walsh says after several seconds of contemplation about what to say about parenthood.
If the experience has been consuming, Walsh jokes that he might be to blame.
“My wife jokes that I spoke it into existence. We were taking a walk the day before the first ultrasound and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if there were two in there?’ And there were.”
Walsh says he wishes he could speak things into existence at Chambliss but that any results he achieves for his clients are the result of experience and hard work.
“We pull off miracles every day,” he smiles. “Maybe that makes up for me being a Wildcat fan.”