Decisive, Inclusive and Fair:
Patti O'Hara, CIO, Loeb & Loeb
By: Monica Bay
June 1, 2016
Patti O'Hara's has been the CIO of Loeb & Loeb since October 2012, based in New York City's Manhattan borough.
O'Hara grew up in Philadelphia and stayed in the Keystone State for her initial education. "I went to Penn State University for an undergraduate degree in special education," and then moved south, she explains. "I taught junior high in the New Orleans Public School District for four years. During that time I learned that good communication skills are critical and that the benefits translate to any career or industry."
A pivital career epiphany occurred when O'Hara went to the University of Texas in Austin for Graduate School in Speech Pathology and Audiology. The program required "at least one computer class to graduate," she recalled. "I took a programming class and from that moment I knew that I had found something I wanted to do for a very long time," she recalled. "That was the point when I switched to computer science."
So O'Hara returned to the Philadelphia. Her next move was to accept an offer an in-house position at a small Philadelphia firm, Harvey Pennington, where she managed the technology and accounting functions. "From there I was offered a CIO position at Wolf Block, an elite law firm," said O'Hara. She was managing the technology department, while attending the University of Pennsylvania in the Organizational Dynamics graduate program.
But the 106-year-old firm, which focused on real estate, did not survive the 2008+ recession. When Wolf Block desolved in 2009, O'Hara worked as CIO at Adaptive Solutions, a Philadelphia-based legal technology firm, and in 2012, joined Loeb & Loeb as CIO. The international firm has offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, Nashville, Hong Kong and Beijing.
At Loeb, O'Hara "directs all aspects of the firm's technology strategies and initiatives, providing leadership and resources for IT infrastructure, operations, business intelligence, knowledge management, security and emerging technology," her Loeb biography notes. "She works closely with firm executives and practice leadership to align IT goals with the firm's client service and business objectives."
"Moving to New York was not a difficult decision," she recalled. "Loeb's COO, Alan Cutler, was the COO at Wolf Block—and I knew that we already had a great working relationship. Loeb & Loeb has a great reputation and the opportunity was too good to turn down," she said.
"In addition, New York offers such an abundance of diverse cultural experiences. I was up for the challenge and the excitement."
O'Hara has been working with the PayneGroup since she dove into the legal profession. Her firms have used and continue to use Forms, Numbering, Metadata Assistants, Master Series and Migration Roundtable (in addition to training and professional services).
Asked what advice she would give colleagues about working with PayneGroup, O'Hara suggested "If you have a problem, let them know. If you have a feature request, same thing. They have outstanding responsiveness and are in sync and ahead of our needs and challenges when it comes to legal technology."
Q: Can you share one of your most significant work accomplishments?
I am proud that, throughout the years, I have built a strong network of professional colleagues who respect me for being a logical, hard-working, collaborative leader—who values the contributions and ideas of my colleagues.
Q: How would your colleagues describe your leadership style?
I hope they would say decisive, inclusive and fair. It is important to listen to the input of others—especially those who may be much closer to an issue—and consider all options. But it’s also important that you don’t delay decisions unnecessarily. Delaying can exacerbate situations and frustrate people.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
Data Security. The challenge continually expands.
Q: What's on your "bucket list?"
That's a very long list. I just visited Machu Picchu and hiked many areas of Peru last year. I would like to continue traveling to many of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Q: What book changed your life?
Among others, a Deepak Chopra's, "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success." It had an impact on me when my firm closed in 2009; it focused on life fulfillment.
Q: What is your mantra?
Invest in people, knowledge and experiences. Never forget: it’s also important to have fun.