He’ll also tell you about being named to the Chaminade College Prep Sports Hall of Fame (he played everything). You have to work to get him to talk about his legal career, but what a career it’s been.
Carmody started to think about attending law school while he was still a student at Chaminade. His father had a law degree but worked as an accountant, and he encouraged his sons to work in a profession.
“He always felt if you were a professional, then if something went wrong with the company you worked for, you’d have an opportunity to make a living,” Carmody said.
Medicine didn’t appeal to Carmody, as he wasn’t interested in the science requirements. Instead, he centered on law and earned his law degree from the University of Missouri in 1967. He joined what was then a sizeable law firm with about 16 attorneys, but when that firm broke up in 1981, several of his colleagues started a new firm. Carmody felt that wasn’t the right opportunity for him, so he had a phone conversation with a former law school classmate.
They began to concoct a plan to start their own firm. Carmody joined Leo MacDonald, Timothy Wolf and Jack Hilton in the creation of Carmody, MacDonald, Hilton and Wolf. At the time, Carmody was 38 years old, with three young sons — a risky choice, given the demanding pace of running a law firm.
“You have to be able to survive both by your level of performance as a lawyer, plus you also have the financial side. They’re both very, very important,” Carmody said. “When you’re starting your own firm, your performance has to be there because you can’t rely on everybody else.”
Today, the firm has 45 attorneys with a focus on business, banking, finance and related areas of law. Don Carmody is considered to be instrumental in creating the firm’s collegial atmosphere and its emphasis on close relationships with clients. He also emphasizes a dedication to excellence that he feels young people considering the law should apply to their own work.
No matter what people choose to do, they should strive to be the best at it, Carmody believes.
“You want to do things the proper way and be the best that you could be and have a good product and good group around you,” he said.
Despite having amassed more than 45 years of legal practice, Carmody has no plans to slow down. He golfs occasionally, but much of his free time is spent with his wife and grandkids. The word “retirement” is not part of his vocabulary.
“My professional goal is to be the best that I can be until I no longer want to practice law, and I don’t know when that could possibly be,” he said.