Tyson & Mendes is growing in the Bay Area. For our May spotlight, we introduce Patricia Kantor Conway – the newest partner in Tyson & Mendes’ Northern California office. Patricia recently made a lateral move to the firm from her position as partner at Vasquez Estrada & Conway LLP, where she worked for the last 18 years. An experienced litigator practicing civil litigation in the Bay Area since 1996, Patricia’s practice focuses on defense of construction, toxic tort, environmental and premises liability actions, representing manufacturer and contractor defendants in California state courts and various federal courts. Learn more about Patricia, including her Czechoslovakian roots and passion for giving back, below.
T&M: Tell us a bit about your legal background?
PKC: I have been working as an insurance defense lawyer since I graduated law school in 1996. I was thrown into the trenches in my first job, taking a plaintiff’s deposition in an auto accident case the first day after my bar results were posted (fortunately, I passed!). In addition to personal injury cases, I also worked on construction defect, products liability, premises liability, and asbestos cases. I was very fortunate to be given responsibility for my cases and direct access to clients. I had such an intensive hands-on experience – taking depositions, writing and arguing motions, communicating with clients – that in my second year of practice I was hired by another firm to manage a new client and oversee a large caseload. I met the new client shortly thereafter and that relationship led to my elevation to partner in just my fourth year of practice. I continued to manage their cases, and five years ago, I was appointed National Coordinating Counsel (NCC) by the insurance carrier to oversee nationwide asbestos litigation.
T&M: What drew you to Tyson & Mendes?
PKC: When my now partner, Jim Sell, approached me, I was immediately drawn by the growth of the firm and the diversity of its practice areas. What sold me was when he told me that when recruiting, what mattered most at Tyson & Mendes was the quality of the person.
T&M: Tell us about your biggest win/accomplishment?
PKC: I have won summary judgment with a pending seven figure demand; I have had punitive damages dismissed by way of pre-trial motion by the trial judge; but I consider my biggest accomplishment being appointed NCC. It not only showed the client’s faith in my abilities, but provided a great opportunity to help the client preserve its assets and manage its risk by creating oversight and consistency in their pending litigation nationwide.
T&M: Similarly, what has been the biggest challenge of your career thus far?
PKC: My greatest accomplishment also has been the biggest challenge. As NCC, I not only have had to familiarize myself with laws and trends in various jurisdictions, but also have to flag potential problems, even if it means questioning local counsel. I also am responsible for training counsel and ensuring discovery responses and positions taken procedurally are consistent. I embrace this challenge as I find it extremely rewarding. Not only has it expanded my legal knowledge further, but it has enabled me to provide the client with more favorable results overall.
T&M: Your family is originally from Czechoslovakia. Tell us about your experience growing up as a first generation American?
PKC: We spoke Czech and Slovak in the home and grew up with many Czech families in the Denver area. I remember going on camping trips in the Rocky Mountains where we would hunt for wild mushrooms in the woods. When we returned to the camp site, there would be an entire wild boar roasted over the fire and polka music playing in the background! This was a happy, very connected group of people. They all came from a communist regime with no freedom of speech and no justice. They escaped the regime so we could grow up in a country where anything is possible. They taught us no hurdle is insurmountable and to just go for it.
T&M: What did you want to be when you grew up?
PKC: A veterinarian until my dog was hit by a car and killed when I was 10 years old. I decided that career would be too sad for me. At that point, I decided to be a lawyer and never looked back.
T&M: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
PKC: Ever since I was a little girl, my mother and father have always given me the same advice: “Think positive.”
T&M: Where is the one place in San Francisco you always like to share with guests from out of town?
PKC: The glass elevators in the Westin St. Francis Hotel in Union Square – best view in town.
T&M: You also enjoy giving back to the community. Tell us about your volunteer work?
PKC: We live in Marin County which is lacking in permanent shelters for the homeless. The community is small and my family and I have found when we volunteer to feed or house the homeless, we are interacting with people we know from the community. We are fortunate to have a St. Vincent de Paul dining room in our town, which not only provides meals to anyone who asks, but tries to fill in the gaps of assistance that our county currently does not have. I am also working with my parish to participate in a county wide effort by communities of various faiths to fund and build a permanent homeless shelter.
T&M: What do you have streaming regularly on your TV?
PKC: Because I am rarely the one who turns on the TV and I live in an all-male household (except for my dog), I end up watching a lot of war documentaries.
T&M: When not at work or home, where are we most likely to find you?
PKC: Walking my boxer, Bonnie, or on the tennis court.
Tyson & Mendes Adds New Partner in San Francisco Office
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