When Patty Brophy got started on her career path, it wasn’t anywhere near a law firm. Instead, she was a media buyer at an ad agency and an event planner for nonprofits. But she wanted a job that captured her imagination while still paying the bills. That’s when serendipity came into play.
Brophy joined Dorsey & Whitney as a legal secretary in 1990. Even then, her potential was notable, said Bryn Vaaler, the firm’s chief marketing and professional development officer.
“From the start, she was a master of secretarial skills,” he said. “But she was also a trusted adviser, confidant, friend and conscience to those with whom she works. Today she oversees 55 legal secretaries and paralegals, and she has this responsibility because she is such an effective people person. She is kind, thoughtful, generous and caring but also capable of delivering hard messages and having difficult conversations.”
Even her event planning skills have come in handy, and she’s called upon to help plan and execute firm initiatives and events. She helped colleagues produce a history of Dorsey for the firm’s centennial celebration, including a book, video, and interactive website as well as a gala weekend of activities.
She also represents the firm expertly in first-day orientations for new hires, as well as extensive pro bono and volunteer work. She is particularly adept at planning practice group retreats and annual lawyer meetings, Vaaler added.
Brophy said, “I have learned that greasing the channels of communication, which comes naturally to me, is a skill that comes in handy when everyone else is focusing on the technicalities of the law, or trying to figure out how to get the darned computers to work with us instead of against us. What I love about my job is that it’s all about people and relationships.”