A lawyer who has thousands of lines of poetry memorized and who thinks he would want to be a gym teacher if he wasn’t in the ARM industry — if those aren’t signs that Michael O’Meara is interesting to be around, then nothing is. O’Meara has been in the industry so long, even the way in which he got his job is pretty much obsolete by now. Read on to learn more about Michael and how he thinks being a former agency owner has affected his outlook now that he is an attorney.
Name: Michael O’Meara
Company: The O’Meara Law Office, P.S.
Length of time at current company: 4 years
Length of time in industry: Thirty years with time out for my undergraduate degree and law school.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I got my first job from a help wanted ad in the newspaper. (Is that still a thing?) I began my career collecting second-placement landlord-tenant debts. Everything was easy after that.
What is your career highlight so far?
There have been too many: Buying my first collection agency, selling that agency to attend law school, helping my former agency attain PPMS certification and building a compliance department from scratch. Becoming president of the Washington Collectors Association and all the close friendships with industry colleagues that has fostered. Becoming an Certified Instructor and being awarded the IFCCE through the ACA and finally opening up my own practice to continue to be a part of and support the industry that has been so good to me.
When or how are you most productive?
I’m a night owl and do my best work while everyone else is asleep.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
Kevin Underwood has always been my role model. He has had a huge impact on our local unit through his legislative efforts and I cannot imagine the WCA through the years without his support. When I have a question, he is the first one I turn to.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I was a debt collector and agency owner for a long time prior to becoming a lawyer and that allows me to not only help my agency-clients with their litigation needs but to go back after we have put out a fire and help them build better processes and safeguards to eliminate mistakes or holes in their compliance systems. My industry experience allows me to bring a full-service partnership with my clients whether they need help with plaintiff litigation, consumer defense litigation, compliance or operational consultation, staff training, collection notice review or all of the above.
What do you like most about this industry?
After thirty years there are still new things to learn and new problems to think about and solve. I love working with clients whether it’s related to litigation, compliance, or training.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
When I sold my agency in 2003, it was because I was already seeing a huge increase in consumer-litigation and wish we had done a better job at self-policing and building better compliance controls to avoid the silly violations the industry did not do a good job at avoiding. This created an easy target for consumer attorneys and they have made a very good living for too long because the industry was not as dialed-in or as nimble as it needed to be. My mission is to dry up the consumer-attorney’s watering hole by preventing my clients from being the low hanging-fruit.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I would probably be a gym teacher. I have always enjoyed throwing rubber balls at small children and think it would be fun to get paid to do so.
Describe a typical work day.
Court in the morning, emails or meetings in the early afternoon, a nap, a work out, and legal writing and miscellaneous at night.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Netflix, of course.
What are you currently reading?
“A Gentlemen in Moscow” by Amor Towles. It’s beyond fantastic and I can’t put it down!
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I have thousands of lines of poetry memorized and will recite them all to whomever is buying the beers at a convention.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?