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School of Law | Judge Mary Donovan Leading Dayton Bar Association

Judge Mary Donovan Leading Dayton Bar Association

For the second consecutive year, the Dayton Bar Association's Board of Trustees is led by graduates and classmates at the University of Dayton School of Law. Earlier this year, Judge Mary Donovan was elected the DBA's president, replacing Tom Whelley II. Both are members of the Class of 1977, UDSL's first class after reopening three years earlier.

Donovan praised Whelley's work during his one-year term, saying, "He did a fabulous job," she said, and left the DBA in great economic shape. Donovan said she and Whelley have gotten to know one another better as they've work together and traveled to conferences representing the DBA.

In November, Donovan was reelected for her second six-year term on the Second District Court of Appeals. Previously, she served on the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court's General Division.

She also served in the Montgomery County Public Defender's Office from 1990-1993; the City Law Department, City of Cincinnati Prosecutor's Office from 1989-1990; Montgomery County Public Defender's Office 1979-1988; and the Lake County Public Defender's Office from 1978-1979. Prior to her judicial service, Donovan practice law for three years with Allbery, Cross, Fogarty and Tuss.

Donovan said that serving on the Court of Appeals can be "more of a monastic lifestyle," given that far fewer than half of the court's cases involve oral arguments. So she balances that isolation by getting involved in the Dayton Bar Association and the community.

Donovan continues to be involved in the School of Law, returning to UDSL to talk to students about judicial service, participating in orientation and judging Moot Court competitions. She has also served on committees for the Red Mass and Interfaith Prayer Services, and formerly served on the Alumni Association Board.

In addition, she has four 3Ls serving as externs in her office, and both of her staff attorneys are Dayton Law graduates.

As president of the Dayton Bar Association, Donovan is focusing on helping attorneys build relationships. In a column in the DBA's monthly magazine, the Dayton Bar Briefs, Donovan wrote: "A good friend of mine suggests that the reason bar membership is so important is because it provides a meaningful opportunity to meet lawyers outside one's practice area in a non-adversarial setting."

One of Donovan's primary initiatives is the resumption of free monthly lunch meetings for bar association members. The program, Chancery Club, named after a series of regular lunch gatherings Dayton attorneys used to hold, is an effort to encourage collegiality among local attorneys, Donovan said. Each lunch meeting has a theme, and January's will provide updates on the Ohio Supreme Court.

In October, the DBA also started a new program, Lawyers in Transition, designed to assist attorneys who are under-employed and unemployed. The program, which includes a confidential registry, offers, among other things, free or discounted CLE hours. Donovan said that the program is a recognition that the bar association needs to provide support to lawyers during these down economic times.

"We have an obligation to give back," she said.

Donovan is also encouraging young attorneys to get more involved with the DBA through a leadership initiative designed to identify and create future leaders. She also noted that law students can join the DBA for free.

"I've always enjoyed the practice of law and being a lawyer," she said. "I'm excited for the young lawyers who are entering the profession."


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