Attorney Greg T. Rinckey is proof positive ROTC is one of the best leadership courses in the country. So is his business partner, Mathew B. Tully. The two met in 1990 as Army ROTC cadets at Hofstra University on Long Island, where Greg grew up.
“In 1995, we were both commissioned as Second Lieutenants,” explains Greg. “Mat went on to serve as a field artillery officer. The army sent me to law school.” In 2004, the Hofstra alums would cross paths again, this time to form Tully Rinckey PLLC, presently one of the Capital District region’s largest full-service law firms.
Upon receiving his juris doctor, magna cum laude from Touro Law School in 1998, Captain Rinckey served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG), including two years as a prosecutor and three as a criminal defense attorney.
“I was serving as defense counsel at Fort Riley in Manhattan, Kansas when I met my wife,” Greg recalls with a smile. “Tara was a teacher there and we were set up on a blind date.” Fast forward to today, it’s been 10 years since the two said, “I do” and they’re the proud parents of 8-year-old Grant and 5-year-old Emily.
“It wasn’t hard to convince Tara to move from Kansas to D.C.,” Greg shares. “Big city allure.” His appellate defense attorney position in D.C. would be his final assignment in the army.
“I was finishing my time with the army and Mat was employed in the legal department of Morgan Stanley when Sept. 11, 2001 happened,” shares Greg. “Mat wasn’t in the Twin Towers at the time and his family’s safety became his highest priority. He followed his wife’s suggestion to relocate to their ski house in upstate New York.”
There, in his ski home, Mat began providing legal services to his friends and former colleagues. “Mat invited me to join him,” says Greg. “He was dedicating his legal career to protecting and preserving the rights of our fellow veterans and reservists and for me it was a no-brainer.”
Since partnering with his ROTC classmate, Greg has become a recognized leader in the military and federal employment law sectors. Because of the firm’s huge success within the federal employment and military law sectors, Tully Rinckey expanded into Washington, D.C. “We’re continuing to expand and grow,” reveals Greg. “We’re looking for more stakes in D.C., we’d like to open a new office in Buffalo, and eventually broaden our reach with expansions in San Diego, Chicago, and New York City.”
Greg recognized an MBA was an important next step, crucial to his personal growth and the growth of the partnership. “I knew an MBA would advance my working relationship with our chief marketing and finance officers,” he describes. “When you have a management background, you can have a better plan, better execution, and better strategy. I didn’t intend to become an expert in every field, just more educated.”
With the support of his wife Tara, Greg moved quickly from receipt of a letter from the Veteran’s Administration informing him he was eligible for a new GI Bill, paying full tuition, to starting weekend classes at the University of Albany only a few short weeks later.
“I chose the UAlbany Weekend Executive MBA Program because I wanted to learn in an advanced learning setting with a diverse group of professionals,” explains Greg. “Members of my cohort ranged from RNs to business owners to people wanting to be college professors and engineers. There was no one typical profile. Each one is a specialist in their field, experienced and professional. The students added a great deal to the class and we weren’t always asking the professors, what if.”
Earning his MBA has significantly helped with the management of his firm. “And so has keeping in touch with members of my cohort,” adds Greg. “You really get to know each other because you’re going through a lot together, including team-building exercises, dinners every Friday night, and in our case, a week-long international trip to Beijing, China. It’s like having 40 other mentors to rely on.”
Greg’s mantra comes from his days in the Army, “Mission first. People always.”
“The best advice I can give professionals considering this program is, don’t stress out,” offers Greg. “This is to advance YOU. Take a step back and remember why you’re there. Is it for the knowledge or the grade?”
Greg shares his ‘secret to survival’ was reminding himself he was there to learn, not get straight As, unlike in law school where he had the pressure of needing a high GPA. “I didn’t slack. I just also didn’t give up the rest of my life. The knowledge and the connections are what’s important, not the grade.”
When he’s not prosecuting and defending, Greg enjoys immersing himself in a good book. He’s also a history buff and appreciates historical museums and sightseeing. His favorite however, is accompanying Tara to Grant and Emily’s soccer games and swimming.
A nugget many people may not know is Greg and Mat founded the Schenectady County SPCA, with the purpose of protecting abused animals and animals in dangerous situations. The Rinckey family is no stranger to the love of critters. Their household is home to the cat Tara brought with her from Kansas, a rabbit, which they rescued from a family that purchased it for Easter and no longer wanted it, a hamster, a fish, and the dog Tara bought from Kansas while Greg was in Beijing, China.
“Because I had the opportunity to attend the UAlbany Weekend MBA Program, I am a better-rounded business professional,” says Greg. “The program has purpose and direction. I wasn’t interested in learning from a text book. I was interested in learning real life. If that resonates with you, you’re in the right place.”
Mission first. People always.