Judge McQuaid earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1968. He received his law degree from Willamette University College of Law in 1971, and was admitted to the State Bar of Nevada that year.

Judge McQuaid served as a lawyer representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference (1987-1989) and was active in the State Bar of Nevada serving on the Fee Dispute Committee, the Disciplinary Committee, and the Medical-Legal Screening Panel.

Before his appointment to the bench in 1996, Judge McQuaid was a partner in the law firm of Georgeson, McQuaid, Thompson & Angaran in Reno.

Judge McQuaid is a member of the State Bar of Nevada and the American Board of Trial Advocates. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a master in the Bruce R. Thompson American Inn of Court.