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Cynthia Hegarty
Cynthia Hegarty has represented clients in bankruptcy, workouts and litigation for more than two decades. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Virus, recession drive demand for bankruptcy bar

Name: Cynthia Hegarty

Title: Of counsel, Winthrop & Weinstine

Education: B.A., political science, University of Colorado at Boulder; J.D. Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law

Cynthia Hegarty, who recently joined Winthrop & Weinstine, says the pandemic and its economic fallout are driving greater demand for her specialty in bankruptcy work.

Hegarty, who has represented clients in bankruptcy, workouts and litigation for more than two decades, said the unusual circumstances require fluidity rather than cookie-cutter approaches. Lately she’s representing creditors in bankruptcy proceedings involving retail businesses and restaurants.

“It’s a big challenge because there’s no foreseeable resolution,” Hegarty said.

The sense of collegiality among the relatively small number of attorneys in the bankruptcy bar, however, is one thing Hegarty likes about her work.

Hegarty, who chairs the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Bankruptcy Law Section, joined Winthrop & Weinstine in October.

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

A: I’m a pretty direct person, and I think I’m pretty approachable. Just launching right into it is the easiest way to do it.

Q: Why did you study law and pursue it as a career?

A: I remember in seventh or eighth grade watching “Twelve Angry Men” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” and doing some civics-type project where we had to research three professions and mine were an attorney, an engineer and a musician. … After having seen those movies at that time, I thought, gosh, this is something I think I would like.

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

A: I like historical fiction when I get a chance to go on vacation and sit down and read.

Q: What’s a pet peeve of yours?

A: My kids are all like, “Bad grammar, you’re always correcting everybody’s grammar.”

Q: What do you like best about your work?

A: [Clients] come to you with a problem. To take that issue whether it’s big or small and break it down into those component parts and filter it down to a more manageable piece and solve each of the pieces so that you can get whatever the result is that the client needs that’s the challenge that I like the best.

Q: What do you least like about it?

A: It speaks to the profession in general. Sometimes you see in litigation a tendency for attorneys to adopt their client’s persona. If their client is really adverse to mine some attorneys adopt that position and it gets needlessly acrimonious.

Q: What do you like doing away from work?

A: I’ve got three teenagers and spend a lot of time at hockey rinks. My daughter in college is not home now but my younger two play hockey. My youngest daughter is involved in 4-H and has a llama, so we learn about crazy animals. … This summer we adopted an orphaned baby chick and raised it as a house chicken.

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

A: I live in the southwestern suburbs pretty close to Prince’s Paisley Park. If somebody is visiting for the first time that’s a really Minnesota cool thing to do.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you most admire—and why?

A: Without naming names there are a couple of people who have been instrumental and very unselfish with their time in focusing on my development as an attorney.

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

A: Everybody thinks that you’re in court yelling, “I object” all the time because that’s all they see in TV and movies. When I’ve had my daughter’s friends who are in college who want to shadow a lawyer I think sometimes they’re disappointed that what I’m doing is legal research, legal drafting, talking on the phone all day.

Q: What’s your favorite depiction of the law or the legal profession in popular culture?

A: “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Don’t read the sequel or you won’t love Atticus Finch as much as you used to.

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