Patrick Kilbane is general counsel and director of the Divorce Advisory Group at Ullmann Brown Wealth Advisors in Jacksonville Beach. He’s also chair of the 4th Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission that will begin this week evaluating applicants for a vacancy on the circuit bench in Nassau County. The commission will conduct final interviews June 11 and by June 22 will submit a list of its recommended candidates for appointment to Gov. Rick Scott, who will select the circuit’s new judge.
Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer?
When I was extremely young, I told my Dad I wanted to be a congressman. He told me in order to serve in the legislature, I should go to law school. Since that young age, becoming a lawyer was my goal so I could position myself to have the chance of serving in the legislature.
One person (other than my spouse or partner) who inspires me: The Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. Father Hesburgh played an active and influential role in national and international affairs during and after his 35-year presidency of the University of Notre Dame. He held 16 presidential appointments over the years that involved him in virtually all major social issues: civil rights, peaceful uses of atomic energy, campus unrest, treatment of Vietnam draft evaders, Third World development and immigration reform, to name only a few.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice of law?
My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Business Administration. When I practiced law full time, I concentrated on high net worth dissolution of marriage cases. Knowledge of finance, accounting, taxes, etc., was essential.
How did you decide your practice area? And why have you chosen that?
I didn’t. My father-in-law suggested interviewing with Rogers Towers. He had a close personal and professional relationship with the late Charlie Towers Jr. When I interviewed with Rogers Towers, I was lucky enough to be interviewed by David Garfinkel, Adrian Rust, Ellsworth Summers, Bob Pinder and a few others. I instantly clicked with all of them, and knew it would be a good fit. At the conclusion of my interview, Adrian told me Rogers Towers liked me, but while I spent the previous summer working for the NCAA’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C., they filled all of their hiring needs with their summer associates. Adrian assured me if their needs changed, they would call. I appreciated his gesture and couldn’t imagine I would receive a phone call two days later from David Garfinkel reporting Rogers Towers was considering creating a family law associate position. I thought family law was the last area of practice I would ever pick. However, I knew David would be an excellent mentor, so I accepted the position. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
If I could change anything in the legal system, I would:
Get rid of billable hours. No one likes them.
What community service have you pursued and why that?
My service to the community has been with organizations like the Young Lawyers Section of the Jacksonville Bar Association and the Notre Dame Club of Greater Jacksonville that tend to get involved in various service projects to help several different causes each year. I have enjoyed pitching in and helping wherever there is a need. Last year, I was asked to join the St. Vincent’s Foundation board of directors. Helping raise funds and awareness as to the tremendous work St. Vincent’s does in our community to treat those in need is an emerging passion of mine. Gov. Scott appointed me to the Jacksonville Aviation Authority board of directors and the Judicial Nominating Commission for the 4th Judicial Circuit. While these are different types of community service, these roles are essential to ensuring our economic growth in Northeast Florida, and recommending the highest quality judicial candidates to the governor for appointment.
What’s your advice for new lawyers?
Find amazing mentors like David Garfinkel and Betty Helfrich. Work hard. Spend time with your family. Exercise daily. Eat healthy. Become an active member of your Bar association. Serve your community. Learn from and respect people with different views than yours.