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Oles Morrison

Partner Spotlight – Michael Geraghty

Mon Sep 17, 2018

Our 125 years of success are a direct result of the hard work and support of our people. We want to recognize the people that make Oles Morrison Rinker & Baker what it is today and those that will impact the future of the firm. Each month, we will share a Partner Spotlight that not only highlights one of our partners but the biggest issues impacting the legal industry.

How long have you been practicing law?

I was sworn in to the bar at a ceremony in Fairbanks, Alaska in November 1978 making this my 40th year of practice. After spending many years in private practice, I left my firm when I was appointed Attorney General for the state of Alaska in January 2012. I held the position through December 2014. When I returned to private practice, I was fortunate enough to join Oles Morrison Rinker & Baker, LLP.

How has the legal industry and/or your practice area evolved since you started practicing law?

The digital age has had a profound impact on the practice of law. When I first became a lawyer, it was fairly typical for each attorney to have his or her own secretary who was responsible for using a typewriter to type all materials. We also had to rely on “snail mail.” Now email has created an enormous opportunity to communicate efficiently and quickly with clients. Despite all the changes to the legal industry, much still remains the same. You still have to file a complaint, you still have to file an answer, etc. While there have been rule changes and amendments over the years—primarily to account for the new cyber world we live in —the rules themselves that govern civil procedure and the like have remained remarkably stable.

How has the Anchorage economy changed over the years?

My professional life coincided with the opening of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System which has brought enormous change, growth and prosperity to Alaska. While the state has searched for other home-grown industries to provide an economic base, there has been little success. I continue to believe that Alaska—and Anchorage—will remain a resource-based economy into the foreseeable future. This does not mean that tourism, for example, cannot grow and play an important part in our economy but, for better or worse, in my opinion, Alaska’s future is tied to resource development.

What is one legal trend your clients should be paying attention to right now?

Self-regulation is becoming more prominent. In other words, corporations and businesses need to ensure compliance with the laws, and have robust internal systems for monitoring and investigating sexual harassment, for example, as well as other activities like contract compliance, business ethics and so on. Self-reporting is an important component. Turning the other cheek is simply not an option anymore, and businesses have to be ever-vigilant and prepared to deal with internal wrongdoing if and when it occurs. Hiring outside law firms to do these investigations is a necessary component, and it’s one we are seeing occur more and more frequently.

What is your most memorable case?

There have been many—more than I can count. And they are not always positive memories! However, life as a litigator and trial attorney has given me the opportunity to delve into a multitude of subjects dealing with engineering, construction and other commercial disputes. Each case requires you to master a certain subject, or a project, or an event – or some combination thereof – in enormous detail. I have always found this work very challenging and at the same time, fascinating. After 40 years, the cases tend to run together, but I can honestly say it is as interesting to me today as it was when I embarked in the practice 40 years ago.

Click here for more information about Michael Geraghty and his practice.