Get to Know MCCM Partner Mary F. Ognibene
Did you ever wonder what made us decide to become lawyers? Maybe you wondered what we do when we’re not practicing law? Welcome to the latest post from our new “Get to Know Us” series, featuring different members of our MCCM team, where we answer those questions. Our next post features Partner Mary F. Ognibene.
Why did you become a lawyer? My journey, not unlike many others in this field, was a bit of a winding road from A to B. I started law school at age 26, having taken four years off after college to work in a local firm, volunteer abroad and gain a clearer perspective on the road ahead.
I applied to law school because I couldn’t put the question away. I saw the law as foundational to an informed understanding of how society works, but I didn’t know how exactly, and I wanted to learn. My curiosity about what it is lawyers do just wouldn’t leave me alone, year after year. I heard the many warnings from those in the field; “don’t do this,” “it’s not what you think it is,” “it’s not like they portray on tv,” etc., but I somehow pressed on, fueled by this curiosity and the untested suspicion that there was something worthwhile on the other side of those cautionary words.
I was right. Everyone has their reasons, and looking back I see that mine derive from the root; meaning, the people before anything else. I see the people and the problem before them, and I want to help. I want to use my skills and the measure of power I do have to help solve that problem. I also dive into the context of a problem before I advise a client as to best next steps. While that makes me a terrible hip shooter, it makes me a thorough problem solver and I love bringing that approach to my clients. I love being an advisor.
I have a funny treasured memory that could surprisingly (or not surprisingly) answer this question too. I once asked an esteemed law professor (on the last day of my last class of my last year of law school) “what any of this has to do with being happy.” He, after a stunned and bemused pause, provided a gracious answer on the day (of which I don’t recall a word), but years later wrote a book about corporations, including this story in the preface with a disclaimer that the book was partially offered as an explanation to that very question. I count this as a career highlight. In learning about the book I ended up writing a response that illuminated my own answer to my own question. I adhere to it still. Essentially, I went to law school and I practice law to help people navigate the legal landscape of modern living, but on a larger scale I do what I do to better understand for myself the power structures that frame this modern life. I believe power needs educated, ethical stewards. I have gladly built my own career in the service of being such a steward to the best of my ability.
What do you do? My practice concentrates on all things mergers and acquisitions and general corporate law; meaning, business formations, sales, purchases, mergers, dissolutions and a whole range of general contract drafting and negotiation. I started my practice in a big firm, eventually made my way small and through it all have been lucky to be exposed to a wide variety of industries, issues and people.
I particularly enjoy working with clients through the merger and acquisition process. I will often team with a client – and “team” really is the correct word, due to the intensity of the M&A process – to walk through it together from beginning to end. I’ve learned so much in such a little amount of time about so many businesses this way and in the process have had the privilege of helping those businesses cross the finish line of what is usually a huge event in their respective lifespans. That is a privilege.
I also enjoy witnessing how and why corporate law concepts apply in different industries. There is always something to learn and refine.
What work are you most proud of? There isn’t a one “most proud” moment for me. I find these moments in every client relationship, as each relationship has its own story. I’ve worked with manufacturing and engineering companies, consulting companies, doctors’ offices, individual families, start-ups, contractors and even rooftop farms. And every client brings a different energy, a different viewpoint, to the table. I am grateful and take much pride in the knowledge that those among this group placed their trust in me to help them get from A to B, especially if that “someone” is a closely-held business with an entire history and future legacy on the line. It’s something you don’t forget. Sometimes the M&A process constitutes the first time a client has worked closely with legal counsel. I often keep that top of mind and am happy to make the process feel thoroughly vetted and our team relationship lock step. I take pride in my thorough approach and my policy that there are no stupid questions.
Tell us a little known fact about you. I play the violin. And I love to sing. I realize that my “other” career path could have easily been music; I would have loved to have toured the world as a backup singer and/or solo recording artist. I chose law for countless other reasons, but that choice was not an easy one. Doing so, however, has kept my perspective about music humble and rooted in what is most important to me. In the meantime I’ve sung over the years with three bands/music projects, recorded three albums, sung back-ups on another and even recorded vocals on a song picked up by a McDonald’s ad in Poland (you read that right – it was a chicken sandwich, by the way, and yes, I’ll be giving autographs after the show.) I look forward to making more music in the future.
What about your family? My husband is an aerospace engineer who made his first solo flight at age 16. I find it hilarious that before he had his driver’s license his mom would drop him off at the airport so he could fly planes. I have three fantastic step-children and, though I never considered myself a dog person, I am now a dog mom to a 115lb Alaskan Malamute who sings to us every day. He is also my unexpected but cherished wingman.
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McConville Considine Cooman & Morin, P.C. is a full-service law firm based in Rochester, New York, providing high-quality legal services to businesses and individuals since 1979. With over a dozen attorneys and a full paralegal support staff, the firm is well-positioned to right-size services tailored to each client. We are large enough to provide expertise in a broad range of practice areas, yet small enough to devote prompt, personal attention to our clients.
We represent a diverse range of clients located throughout New York State and New England. They include individuals, numerous manufacturing and service industry businesses, local governments, and health care professionals, provider groups, facilities and associations. We also serve as local counsel to out-of-state clients and their attorneys who have litigation pending in Western New York courts. For more information, please contact us at 585.546.2500.