Alumni Spotlight: Patrick Bolling ’14L Patrick Bolling is a principal at Woods Rogers, advising a variety of employers in traditional labor and employment.
Patrick Bolling ‘14L was born in and grew up in Bedford, Virginia, about an hour away from Lexington. He graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 2009, majoring in History. Before attending law school at W&L Law, Patrick worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in various roles. Outside of work, Patrick plays soccer and music when he has a free moment, and coaches various kids sports teams for his three children, who include newborn Lara Colette, named after Lara Gass, ‘14L, a beloved member of the Law Class of 2014 who died tragically in a car wreck just months before law graduation 2014. Patrick is a principal at Woods Rogers, advising a variety of employers in traditional labor and employment.
Discuss your career path and how it led you to work at Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black?
During 3L year, I was recruited to Edmunds & Williams, a small, full-service civil law firm in Lynchburg, Virginia to work on corporate and commercial real estate transactions. I’m a local. My wife and I both grew up in Bedford, which is between Roanoke and Lynchburg. Our families were there, so it made sense. We didn’t plan to stay in Lynchburg, though, because we thought it was going to be too small socially. And I thought it would be too limiting professionally. But sometimes you get lucky despite yourself. When I was a second- year associate, Edmunds & Williams merged with Woods Rogers, which had a larger footprint. I was assigned to a project for a labor and employment partner. Labor and employment is a strong area for Woods Rogers, historically. It seemed like “the place to be,” but I had no experience with labor and employment law. My connection to the matter was only that the client was in Lynchburg, and I was in Lynchburg. I was entrusted with quite a bit of responsibility on that case, however, and we won summary judgment despite the odds. I loved the work, and the team, and told the firm that I wanted to switch practice areas. It was going to be quite a switch, given my strictly-transactional experience, but Woods Rogers put faith in me. Now, I’m fortunate to represent employers in labor matters all over the country. Our growing practice group works cross-metro between our five offices to deliver value for our clients. My experience of Lynchburg is exactly the opposite of what I expected when I moved here, as well. Lynchburg, the sixth largest metro area in Virginia, is the only locality in Virginia that is growing younger. There is a lot of excitement about the future of this city. Working with this firm, in this practice, in this place, has worked out better than I could have imagined when I was job-searching during 3L year.
What sort of legal issues do you handle on a day-to-day basis?
I represent management in various labor matters like collective bargaining, unfair labor practice charges, and grievance processing and dispute arbitration, especially in the government contracting/Service Contract Act space. I also handle employment matters like discrimination, harassment, and retaliation lawsuits, and day-to-day employment compliance guidance.
What do you like about your current job?
It’s all about the people. When I was handling transactions, it was more about the “stuff.” Buying and selling companies or real estate—and that really didn’t do it for me. I enjoy being deployed by my clients to work as a part of existing operational teams, finding ways to integrate myself with them, bring value, and helping them find ways to resolve issues that are often based in very personal conflicts.
Which W&L classes and/or experiences do you think were most helpful in preparing you for this job?
I think W&L Law’s focus on making its students (what I would call) “whole lawyers.”
How do you use your position as the Chair of the Young Lawyers Division for the Virginia Bar Association for mentoring and encouraging other lawyers?
Every lawyer has to ask themselves who it is that they are helping. If it’s just yourself, you’re doing it wrong. I know that from experience. For so long, my only goal was to make partner. I think that is the only goal of so many associates. Naively, I thought it would solve every issue in my life. “Once I become a partner, then I’ll have time to [go to the gym] [go to the dentist] [be happy].” Once I made partner, however, I realized that it really only solved one issue in my life: not being a partner. You as a person, are still responsible for finding your own fulfillment in life. I promise you, law firm partnership won’t do it for you. You have to determine (a) that you are going to be happy, and (b) figure out how you are going to do that for yourself. No one, and certainly not any law firm, can or will do it for you. So, for all of the public and bar service we did and awards we won, during my time in YLD leadership, I think the most important thing we did was to combat lawyer loneliness through conscious community-building. We did this primarily through our quarterly meetings where we took time out of our busy lives to go away for weekends of making life-long friends among CLEs, professional development programming, and social events. Community is the antidote to lawyer loneliness, but you need to get out of your office to be part of it. It doesn’t hurt that our meetings are often at the beach.
What advice do you have for prospective law students?
Go to W&L Law!
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Outside of Work
Soccer, playing/listening to music
Most Used Phone App
Favorite Travel Location
The American Southwest