CSU C|M|LAW alumnus Thomas Scanlon '63, an inaugural member of our Hall of Fame, has been a staple of the Cleveland legal, Irish-American, and greater Cleveland community during his 57 years practicing law. Honoring his work with each of those communities, Scanlon was named Grand Marshal of the 2020 Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which unfortunately was canceled because of the Coronavirus outbreak.
“I’ve received many different honors during my career for many different reasons, but this is special because of the amount of people I am being recognized by,” said Scanlon.
A graduate of Saint Ignatius High School and John Carroll University, Scanlon worked through high school and college in the business field. He attended CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (then called Cleveland-Marshall Law School) at night while working as a financial analyst at Tremco Manufacturing during the day. Scanlon was the youngest in his graduating class, at a time when many Korean War veterans were attending the law school. He graduated cum laude and served as editor of the Law Review.
Scanlon began his career at Shapiro Persky, focusing on business, tax and probate work. He spent the bulk of his career partnered with a pair of fellow CSU Cleveland-Marshall graduates. In 1971, he joined forces with Charles Donahue II ’67 to form Donahue & Scanlon and when Donahue retired, Scanlon partnered with Tim Collins ’85 to form Collins & Scanlon LLP.
Among his extensive portfolio of legal work, Scanlon headed the legal work on the medical buildings on the St. John West Shore campus. He also formed the first commercial office condominium in the state on a land lease. Despite cutting back his legal work in recent years, Scanlon still practices on a part-time basis with Hawkins and Hawkins Co. LLC.
Scanlon’s primary areas of practice have included business law, real estate law, condominium law, taxation, probate, estate planning, trial and appellate law, with a heavy focus on transactional work.
Scanlon, a 2014 inductee in the Cleveland International Hall of Fame, is well-known for his active involvement in Cleveland’s Irish Community. His heritage dates back to the 1870s when the Scanlons arrived in Cleveland after immigrating from Ireland. Scanlon founded the Irish American Law Society of Cleveland, which sponsors biennial symposia in Cleveland and Ireland. He has served as a board member and/or officer for the Irish American Archives Society, Irish-American Charitable Foundation and The Mayo Society of Greater Cleveland. He also spearheaded financing for “The Day We Celebrate,” a book chronicling the history of Cleveland's St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Scanlon (pictured second from the left) has a long history with the parade, whose cancellation this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak was only the second in its 178-year history. For over 35 years, his law firms have sponsored a dignitary from Ireland to participate. The impressive list has included Irish judges, renowned barristers, government ministers, members of the Irish Parliament and the Lord Mayor of Dublin. His law firm has also hosted a corresponding party, one of the largest in the state, known as “The Scanlon Party.”
“The name Tom Scanlon is synonymous with the Cleveland Irish Legal Community,” Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor ’80 told Ohio Irish American News. “His leadership in forming the Irish American Legal Society of Cleveland is recognized and greatly appreciated by its members. Tom is one of the most generous people I will ever have the good fortune to know.”
Scanlon’s impact has extended far beyond the Cleveland Irish community as he has been a board member for numerous local and national organizations. He is past board member, president and national trustee of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America Northern Ohio, past board member and president of the West Side Ecumenical Ministry, past board member and president of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, trustee and secretary of the University Hospitals of Cleveland Leadership Council and a past board member of the Centers for Families and Children, Gordon Square Arts District and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, among other organizations.
“The City of Cleveland has been so good to me so I have attempted to give back in gratitude with my time and effort,” said Scanlon, explaining his effort to dedicate at least one-third of his time to working on philanthropic efforts.
Those efforts in the legal community have included nearly two decades as a Bar Examiner as appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court. In that capacity, Scanlon writes and grades questions on the Ohio Bar Examination.
While working at the law library during his legal studies, Scanlon helped amass the first alumni database for the Law Alumni Association, compiling the names of graduates by reviewing composite photos from each class of graduates (currently on display on the second floor of CSU C|M|LAW’s atrium) and searching for their contact information in the phone book. He joined the CMLAA’s Board of Trustees the year after graduating and his membership helped him connect with many of the area’s judges who were also board members. He would later serve as the Association’s president.
Scanlon also serves as a member of the CSU C|M|LAW Board of Visitors.
While Scanlon’s practice has been based in Cleveland for the entirety of his legal career, his firms have maintained a national and international presence that sent him around the globe. Scanlon aligned that travel with his pastime of marathon running. He needed additional physical activity based on a doctor’s recommendation due to the strains of his career and felt running would fit his personality. Scanlon has run marathons in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Melbourne. As recently as two years ago, Scanlon was still running 5-6 miles regularly.
“Running was as a much-needed recreation for me mentally and physically,” said Scanlon.