Sisters “In Law”

Trisha Paul (BS ’93) and Emily Szaferski (BA ’00) practice law a couple of doors down from each other at Barrett McNagny LLP. But if you put the successful attorneys and sisters in a room together and start reminiscing about their USF basketball days, you can almost hear the sneakers squeaking.

“Whenever I walk on campus,” Trisha said, “it brings a smile to my face.”

The sisters talk fondly about the influence of their father, Bruce Patterson, who coached both women during their careers at USF. His impact on their competitiveness and drive to succeed shines through in any conversation about their playing days and beyond.

“I was the better player,” Trisha asserts, trying unsuccessfully to get a rise out of her younger sister. “You can ask Dad which one of us was better.”

“I’ll take the Fifth on that,” Patterson said.

Smart man. He and his wife Sandy raised two talented, successful daughters. Trisha and Emily balance multiple roles as attorneys, wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. The only role they reject is coach.

“I do not have the demeanor for coaching,” Trisha said. “I have zero patience and a very short fuse.”

“Both of us tend to run the scoreboard when our kids are playing, so we have to be quiet,” Emily said. “She and I are different in many ways but similar in having a very short fuse.”

A short fuse sometimes accompanies passionate, ambitious personalities, which fits both sisters. Trisha, who was the first female Managing Partner of Barrett McNagny in 2018, focuses her practice on estate planning and estate administration. She has been with the firm for 23 years. Emily joined Barrett McNagny six years ago when the firm decided to reestablish its family and domestic law practice.

“In my opinion, Emily had developed into one of the best family law attorneys in town,” Trisha said. “I didn’t know it was an option because we had an anti-nepotism policy. But 
the firm went through a lot of work to make an exception. 
We didn’t originally plan to be at the same firm, but it’s worked out very well.”

Because of their age difference, they were not teammates in college. During Emily’s junior year, USF finished as NAIA runner-up, with Trisha in the stands. In Emily’s last two seasons, the Cougars were a combined 65-7.

Trisha spent about 10 years at USF, counting her time as a player, as a coach’s wife (husband Chris Paul was an assistant 
to Patterson) and in following Emily’s career.

“I was more like a second mom than a sister for a long time,” Trisha said. “I was pretty hard on her.”

The whole family rallied together when Emily was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma heading into her senior year. The cancer significantly limited her playing time but did not keep her completely off the court. She says remaining part of the basketball team was a mental and physical boost.

“Other than my parenting days, having kids, those were the best four years of my life, which is saying a lot because of my sickness my senior year,” Emily said. “I adored my teammates; we were very close. I adored playing for my dad. That school had something special; it almost makes me emotional to talk about it. When I got sick, I realized how close we were as teammates.”

Trisha and Emily both pursued law at the encouragement of their father, who preached the value of a graduate degree in law or medicine. Trisha earned a J.D. at the University of Toledo College of Law and Emily earned a J.D. at the Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis.

Both actively lead sports-crazy families. Trisha and Chris (BA ’02) Paul have three children: Jalen, 20, Jackson, 16 and Jersey, 12. Emily and Maciek (BA ’00, MA ’02) Szaferski, who played football at USF in its inaugural 1998 season, have two sons: 
Zen, 9 and Tyson, 6. All of their children are active in sports.

“It’s much harder to be the mom [than a player],” Trisha said. “I am nauseous before games, during games. Whether it’s a good day at the office depends on how my son’s team performed the day before.”

Emily concurs.