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As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Tom Sheehan worked five seasons as a ride mechanic at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill. So you might say the amusement industry got into his blood.

Now Sheehan is one of the leading legal minds representing the waterpark industry, including manufacturers and suppliers such as ProSlide, Aquatic Development Group, Water Technology and others.

“I wanted to take my unique blend of mechanical and amusement park experience and use my law degree to protect the interests of the industry,” says the owner of Sheehan and Lower PC, based in Cary, Ill. And in his 24 years working with the industry as an attorney, Sheehan has done just that.

He has helped craft important industry standards and precedents through his legal practice and involvement with standards organizations; as a board member of the Amusement Industry Manufacturers & Suppliers International and a committee member of the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials; and as a member of the IAAPA’s Safety Committee.

He’s represented the industry in hearings on the Americans with Disabilities Act and helped draft pro-amusement industry legislation in several states. Sheehan is also a founding director of the International Amusement and Leisure Defense Association and the only attorney to hold a Level 2 NARSO Amusement Ride Safety Inspector’s certification.

“When it comes to standards, collaboration is crucial, and one thing that I’ve been careful about is ensuring that guests’ safety is protected without stifling the capability, freedom and innovation to create new exciting rides,” Sheehan says. “If we allow standards to be to restrictive, then designers can’t envision tomorrow’s new attractions.”