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Career has roots in urban planning

By: Jane Pribek//September 19, 2012//

Career has roots in urban planning

By: Jane Pribek//September 19, 2012//

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Wisconsin Law Journal photo/Kevin Harnack

His pride swells, Daniel O’Callaghan said, whenever he drives by University Square in Madison.

The 12-story, mixed-use redevelopment consists of upscale housing, university offices and retail space. It used to be an underused, slightly rundown retail complex with parking and a vacant lot.

O’Callaghan was part of the team representing the developer, Executive Management Inc., which partnered with the university on the complex, multimillion-dollar project that was completed in 2010.

After earning his bachelor’s in urban planning, O’Callaghan worked for the city of Milwaukee in its planning department for four years. The job required a great deal of interaction with land-use attorneys, and that prompted O’Callaghan’s law-school application.

“It was fascinating to watch them solve problems and resolve controversies in a way that not only advanced their clients’ interests, but also in a way that moved the community forward,” he said. “I thought, ‘I was to be involved in that.’”

O’Callaghan always has been interested in promoting affordable housing. To that end, he spearheaded the creation of a free legal clinic for homeowners facing foreclosure, as well as a foreclosure mediation program through the Dane County Bar Association. He received the association’s 2011 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award for those efforts.

What was your most useful law school course?

Lawyering skills. It’s a unique curriculum that doesn’t focus on substantive areas of law. It’s a skills-based course, where we heard from practitioners and got real-world advice about what it is to be a lawyer and practice law, with a focus on law in action.

What was your worst law school course?

I didn’t appreciate civil procedure much, which is probably why I’m a transactional lawyer.

What would you never wear?

White slacks after Labor Day. I don’t think I’d ever wear white slacks, actually.

What was your favorite toy as a child?

A model train set. It was one of those big layouts, with buildings, trees and people. That’s what got me into urban planning, laying out my own little town.

What famous person would you most like to have a drink with?

Bill Clinton

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I have a tendency to procrastinate.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I spend a lot of money on exotic woods for woodworking projects that I’ll probably never have the time to get around to finishing.

What are you craving right now?

Lunch [It was 4 p.m.]


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