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Katherine McBride says her affinity for appellate work was inevitable given her appreciation for the written word. (Submitted photo)
Katherine McBride says her affinity for appellate work was inevitable given her appreciation for the written word. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Appellate work means continuous learning

Name: Katherine (Kate) McBrideTitle: Partner, Meagher & Geer

Education: B.A., English education, J.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Handling appeals and complex motions for all of the firm’s practice areas is challenging but never dull for Katherine (Kate) McBride, partner at Meagher & Geer.

“I don’t think there is a day in my life at work that I don’t learn something new, which can be terrifying and rewarding,” said McBride, who leads Meagher & Geer’s appellate practice and has handled more than 130 state and federal appeals.

McBride said her affinity for appellate work was inevitable given her appreciation for the written word. She studied journalism before switching her major to English education and worked as a court reporter and radio newscaster before law school.

“After a year of watching lawyers and thinking I really liked school, I thought, ‘I could do that,’” McBride said.

McBride, a founding board member of the Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society, co-chaired its education committee for seven years.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. Ask me about my work or my family, about both of which I’m extremely proud.

Q. What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A. I hung out at the courthouse. The funny thing is insurance-coverage issues were not the kinds of cases I was looking at or watching as a journalist. I thought that I wanted to be a criminal law attorney. It turns out I did not after law school and working.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. I’m just starting a novel by Marlon James, who teaches literature at Macalester, called “A Brief History of Seven Killings.” It won the Man Booker Prize. And I just finished “Becoming” like every female in the Twin Cities, I think.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. People who take liberties with the facts. Attorneys who take liberties with the facts.

Q. What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A. Being an appellate attorney, I love being part of helping to develop the law and crafting that great argument.

Q. Least favorite?

A. Reporting billable hours on software systems and then having to justify the time it took to do what was necessary to provide your client with a great product.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. My husband and I take vacations where we go hiking, national parks and state parks. We like to snowshoe in the winter.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, and there’s nothing to do there. But I would immediately take them to downtown Chicago to see Millennium Park, the Art Institute, maybe go to a blues club and a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

Q. Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A. [U.S. District] Judge Wilhelmina Wright. She’s brilliant and she embodies all the qualities that both the lawyers and litigants want to see in a judge. She’s devoted to the law and exhibits absolutely model judicial temperament. On top of that she’s just a very kind and classy person.

Q. What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A. I don’t think people realize how stressful or difficult the job is at times. An appellate attorney is always on the lookout for what did the other side miss or not argue or what are the weaknesses of the other side that you can then use to your advantage.

Q. What if any is your favorite depiction of the legal professional in popular culture (books, films, TV)?

A. “My Cousin Vinny,” hands down. It is surprisingly accurate and hilarious. Every attorney has had a “My Cousin Vinny” moment when the judge acknowledges that you’ve made great argument, maybe the better argument, but they’re still going to rule against you from the bench. My second place “The Verdict.” Paul Newman. It’s excellent and also has some wonderfully accurate moments.

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