Attorney at Law Magazine Phoenix spoke with Matt MacCleod plaintiff personal attorney at Gallagher & Kennedy about his time playing guard on the Notre Dame men’s basketball team for the Athletes in Law 2020 issue.
AALM: What lessons did you learn from basketball that you apply to your practice today?
MM: I learned it is critical to maintain your composure at all times. Whether you are on the court or in the courtroom, composure is essential to your success. There are so many ups and down throughout a game or trial, it is imperative to remain calm. If you can remain calm, you have a great chance to be able to execute what you have practiced and prepared.
AALM: What are some of the most important lessons your coach(s) taught you?
MM: My coach, who was also my father, always instilled in me the power of positivity and how your attitude defines you and shapes the way you handle adversity.
AALM: Who is your favorite basketball sports hero and who is your legal idol?
MM: My father, Coach John MacLeod is my hero. He was the ultimate competitor, but always handled himself with dignity and integrity win or lose. He always treated the game and the opponent with respect and class. He taught me how to play, but more importantly how to be a man. My legal idol is any lawyer brave enough to stand up to injustice despite the personal risks and consequences.
AALM: Please give us three reasons why you like team sports and three reasons you like being an attorney.
MM: I enjoy team sports for the comradery and brotherhood, loyalty and sharing the same goal. Three reasons I enjoy being a lawyer are helping people, problem solving and striving for justice.
AALM: How would you compare competitive basketball to competing as an attorney?
MM: Both have their own similarities both physically and mentally. If you want to do either, physical endurance and mental toughness are essential.
AALM: Do you think attitude is a factor in winning at sports as much as it is in practicing law?
MM: Attitude controls and colors so much of what we do. Attitude is everything. Best of all, we have complete control over our attitude.
AALM: Who inspired you as a young athlete?
MM: I was a big Michael Jordan fan.
AALM: What qualities make a teammate a good team captain/good law partner?
MM: Loyalty and Trust
AALM: What is one thing you always did after a great game?
MM: Ate a large Marco’s Pizza.
AALM: What did you do to calm your butterflies before a game and what do you do to calm butterflies before trial?
MM: Deep breathing and projecting a successful outcome.
AALM: How did competing at the NCAA level in basketball make you a better attorney?
MM: It taught me how to multitask and be cognizant of time management. Playing college sports was the perfect training ground for a career in law.
AALM: Who do you wish was watching you perform at every game?
MM: I wish my wife and children could have seen me play. My father saw me in trial, and it was one of the great thrills of my life.
Favorite Basketball Movie: Hoosiers
Favorite Legal Movie: The Rainmaker
Favorite Sports Quote: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzy
Other Sports He Wanted to Play: Baseball. I gave it up in high school and still regret it.
His Mantra: The harder I work the luckier I get.