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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Cleary brings ‘neighborly’ approach to legal practice

(Aug. 20, 2015) You may have seen her picture around town in Berlin, or on rolling billboards on the backs of city buses, cruising down Coastal Highway in Ocean City.  
The Law Offices of Patricia Cleary is attempting to boost its local profile in a major way this year, after Cleary moved to the area full-time in January.
Cleary, a native of Prince George’s County, has practiced law in the state for 17 years, originally setting up a practice in Bowie out of law school.
“I bought a home here almost 10 years ago and originally thought it would be a good vacation home and on long weekends, and hoped that I could gradually spend more time out here,” she said. “It ended up being that I was so busy I could never get away from the office.”
Today, her main office is in Worcester County. A general practice attorney, Cleary said her passion lies in wills and trusts, estate planning and small business counsel.
Her close relationship with clients, however, often drives Cleary to broaden her boundaries.
“Usually a client retains me for a particular legal issue, and as life goes on and their family needs an attorney for another matter, they naturally call me” she said. “‘Patty, can you do help us with this different legal issue?’ That’s kind of the niche that I like to be in – the neighbor who’s the attorney you can come to when there’s a crisis, and I can try to guide you through it.”
Cleary said her advertisements around town have helped her practice grow, leading to a successful first year practicing law full-time in the county.
“It’s been a very welcoming community, and people that only come down here to vacation don’t always realize it,” she said. “The warmth and small town feeling of this area for year-round residents resonates with me and the type of practice I strive to build.”
“It’s a different way of life, naturally, but living on the shore allows me to focus more on my craft,” Cleary continued. “Back when I had my practice on the other side of the bridge, I was adding two-to-three hours every day in traffic. You love what you do and it’s the same type of work down here, but you can get rid of some of those external stressors.”
That change of pace has also helped Cleary’s practice evolve and she hopes that will lead to a less stress overall, no matter what the case at hand might be.
“A lot of people get intimidated when they come to a lawyer,” she said. “When people come to me they realize, ‘Oh yeah, you are like my neighbor,’ which is why I became a lawyer in the first place.
“When a lawyer forms a relationship with a client, it’s usually around one of the worst experiences of their lives,” Cleary continued. “It’s important for the attorney to realize you’ve got to be a person in addition to the legal counsel. You’ve got the professional connection between attorney and client, but you need to have that other connection that says, ‘I know what you’re going through and I can help you through this.’ That’s what makes practicing law rewarding.”