Richard M. McDermott, Eng ’91, Law ’94
When users of technology are in a jam, they call the Geek Squad. When creators of technology and other intellectual property are in a jam, they call Rick McDermott. A partner in the Charlotte, N.C., office of Alston & Bird LLP, Rick specializes in patent, trademark and copyright law.
“I love technology,” he says. “And I love helping clients with their technology and intellectual property issues.”
Given that Rick earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering before getting his law degree, that certainly seems to be the case. It’s a potent combination that has paid off. Rick’s a widely published author on intellectual property issues; a frequently requested speaker; a rising star in his community, making the Charlotte Business Journal’s 2007 “Forty Under 40” list; and a full-equity partner at his firm who finds his specialized services increasingly in demand even as much of the professional services sector languishes.
So he must have some ironclad personal formula for success, right?
“To be honest, I don’t,” Rick says. “One of my classmates at Marquette used to tell me that good fortune seemed to just fall into my lap. While she usually was quick to say that she was sure I deserved it, sometimes I question whether she was right about that. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.”
Luck may have had something to do with it, but hard work also played a role. Along with a dedication to doing what’s right, not what’s most expedient.
“There are several principles I do my best to live by,” Rick says. “First, treat others — not some, but everyone — with love and respect. Second, be responsive and attentive to those who might need my counsel and communicate honestly with them. Third, strive to be the best person I can be.”
Rick practices what he preaches through volunteer service with several charities, including his local chapters of the United Way and Big Brothers Big Sisters, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Charlotte Children’s Choir, and several Catholic outreach services. He also has generously donated his time and expertise through pro bono legal work for non-profit organizations and associations, earning an inaugural award for exemplary service from his law firm.
He’s been very dedicated to Marquette, too, as evidenced by a lengthy list of activities and honors: co-founder and past president of the Marquette Club of the Carolinas, past president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, current dedicated member of the National Advisory Council of the College of Engineering, president-elect of the Law School Alumni Association Board, and recipient of the Law School’s Howard B. Eisenberg Award in 2003.
Giving back comes naturally for someone who views life like Rick.
“While it might seem to others that good fortune simply falls in my lap, it’s not just luck, but it’s also not just me,” he says. “Rather, it is the influence of my parents, my family, my friends and my Jesuit education. All have contributed to my success.