Alumni News

CMLAA Alumni of the Year recipient Judge John J. Russo ’92 comes from a large, close-knit family where he was one of nine children. Having learned the importance of hard work, giving back family from their parents, all nine siblings went on to unique career paths, with John choosing a career in law. After 12 years in private practice as a civil and criminal litigator, he was elected to the Court of Common Pleas Bench in 2005.

Without Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, CMLAA Alumni of the Year recipient Teresa Metcalf Beasley ’92 would not have been able to attend law school. The University of Alabama graduate and East Cleveland native had returned to her hometown to work but was looking for a profession that would challenge her.

Michael Donnelly '92 loved his 14 years as a Judge on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and believed he would one day retire from that position having protected justice in the local community. That was until the opportunity arose for Justice Donnelly to run for a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court. 

Cleveland attorney and business leader P. Kelly Tompkins has made a $750,000 gift to his alma mater, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, to establish a substantive leadership education program for law students.

CNN Legal Analyst Avery Friedman, a C|M|LAW alumnus, Hall of Fame member, and adjunct law professor, and Michael Borden, associate dean of CSU’s Cleveland Marshall College of Law, will be honored for their devotion to legal ethics and professional development in the Great Room of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, October 20.

THE HONORABLE JOHN J. RUSSO is the Administrative and Presiding Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Ohio in Cuyahoga County, which serves the Greater Cleveland Metropolitan Area. It is home to 1.2 million people (2010 census). Judge Russo has been unanimously elected by his colleagues to lead the Court every year since November 2013.

TERESA METCALF BEASLEY’S practice focuses on public finance, real estate development and financing, and economic development incentives. Teresa has represented private entities and local and county government relations, including municipalities, school boards, port authorities, healthcare entities and library systems on various legal and legislative matters.

Civic engagement with Cleveland is second nature to Sunny Nixon ’11.  Growing up in Dover, Ohio, 90 minutes south of Cleveland, she first fell in love with the "The Forest City” when her dad brought her family to Cleveland to attend the annual convention for the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association.  Nixon recalls being mesmerized by the impressive malls and lakefront that define Cleveland’s downtown.

Rebecca Bennett ’98, a shareholder in the esteemed law firm of Olgetree Deakins, was recently featured in Attorney at Law magazine as the Attorney of the Month. 


Ulmer & Berne LLP Partner Joshua A. Klarfeld, was named to Benchmark Litigation’s “40 & Under Hot List 2018.” This marks the second year in a row that Klarfeld was included on this elite list, which honors top young litigators in the United States and Canada.

Nicole Lester Arrindell '11 received a 2018 Shining Star Award by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke in New York City. 

National trial and litigation firm Kaufman & Company, LLC named Robin Wilson '96 as a Partner in the firm’s Cleveland office. Wilson was formerly Chief Trial Counsel, leading the Cuyahoga County’s Executive Litigation Group in complex civil matters. 

Karen Giffen ’89, Co-Founder of the women-owned firm Giffen & Kaminski, was selected as a Crain's Cleveland 2018 Women of Note. A panel of Crain’s editors selected honorees who have demonstrated commitment to Northeast Ohio and its people. 

Robert R. Terbrack '10 has been named a Partner at the law firm of Gallagher Sharp. Additionally, Terbrack will take on the role of Practice Group Manager for the firm’s Mass Tort/Toxic Tort Practice.

Adjunct Professor Karen Rubin ’85, Counsel at Thompson Hine LLP, has been passionate about teaching for as long as she can remember. She recalls playing school as a child and forcing her sisters to be the students so she could pretend to be a teacher. For the past eight years, Rubin has had the opportunity to teach in real life – and the opportunity to teach at her alma mater makes it all the more cherished.

Public Interest Leader-In Residence Susan Becker '83 was selected by the CMBA as the 2018 recipient of the Honorable William K. Thomas Professionalism Award. The award is given annually to a lawyer or judge who has significantly contributed to the enhancement of professionalism in the Greater Cleveland legal community.

Ronda Curtis '92 was promoted to be Cleveland's Chief Corporate Counsel by Cleveland Major Frank Jackson ’83. She previous served as the city’s chief assistant law director for legislation and finance.

Before she joined Cleveland's law department, Curtis served as both the assistant and interim law director in East Cleveland.

James A. Lowe '72, founder and partner at Lowe Eklund Wakefield Co., LPA, a Cleveland, Ohio-based law firm, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ohio Association for Justice’s 2018 Annual Convention. Lowe was recognized for his lifetime of service and dedication to excellence in litigation, primarily on behalf of individuals catastrophically injured by dangerous and defective products.

Richard A. Ott '92 recently retired after 20 years with the Dutchess County Attorney's Office where he prosecuted child neglect, abuse and support cases, and also some adult protective services matters.