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Banking on a legal career

Banking on a legal career

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Sara McNamara, associate attorney in Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren’s banking and bankruptcy practice (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)
Sara McNamara, associate attorney in Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren’s banking and bankruptcy practice (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Sara McNamara believes most people do not understand what she does as an associate attorney in Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren’s banking and bankruptcy practice.

“When I tell people that I’m an attorney, the first thing they think is that I’m in court all day, which is way off the mark,” she said. “Then when I say I work with banks, people think I’m helping big banks make even more money. While I work with some large banks, it is usually helping borrowers get loans. Most of my work involves community banks and helping them.”

At Reinhart, McNamara provides legal counsel on matters ranging from corporate governance, capital formation, mergers and acquisitions to asset sales, financial transactions and bankruptcy proceedings.

The daughter of two lawyers – her father handles estate planning and her mother is a public defender – McNamara always assumed her future would most likely involve law school. She picked finance as her undergraduate major, figuring she could work in that field if she decided against a legal career or that she could use it to her advantage as a business attorney.

“I really enjoy the finance side of things and how businesses operate,” McNamara said. “My background provides me with a great base of understanding so I can help my clients.”

McNamara enjoys the variety of her work.

“Reinhart has two facets to its banking practice: One focuses on commercial loans while the other is focused on community banks. I am fortunate that I get to work on both sides,” she said.

When questions come up, other Reinhart attorneys are always willing to help, McNamara said.

“With 200 attorneys, if you have a question about something, you can always find someone who can answer it,” she said.

Wisconsin Law Journal: What makes your work important to you?

Sara McNamara: A large portion of the work I do involves local, Wisconsin businesses, including many community banks. This is important to me because I want the work I do to benefit the community I live in and Wisconsin in general. There has been noticeable growth in Milwaukee lately and I hope that will continue.

WLJ: Who is your hero in the legal field?

McNamara: My mom is the first person who really got me interested in the legal field. She has been a public defender for more than 30 years and she really has a passion for her job. Although the work I do is drastically different than the work she does, her excitement and drive set a great example for me.

WLJ: What do you do outside of work to deal with stress from the office?

McNamara: I have a six-month old puppy, Zeke. When I’m not working, I like to play with him and take him on hikes. It’s nice to get out of the city to relax.

WLJ: What’s one thing many people get wrong about what you do?

McNamara: People might think that a banking attorney only helps the large banks make more money. While we do work with large banks, we are often representing a business who is getting a loan to start or expand a business. We also work a great deal with local, community banks.

WLJ: What’s your favorite memory from law school?

McNamara: In my second year of law school, I was in a moot court competition where I had the opportunity to argue in front of three federal judges, including Judge Sykes of the Seventh Circuit.

It was very intimidating, but overall a great experience, and my partner and I ended up winning.

WLJ: Is there a certain case that stands out to you?

McNamara: There is no one case that stands out to me, but I have always been very interested in the Constitutional law cases. While the work I do generally does not involve the Constitution, it is always interesting to read and learn about the cases that shape our rights as citizens.


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