Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association Alumni of the Year recipient The Honorable Michelle L. Paris ’84 tells prospective law students that law school will empower them and open up many different career paths. CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law did just that for Judge Paris, as the former Cleveland elementary school teacher has gone on to a distinguished legal career that includes having served as a Judge on the Bedford Municipal Court for the past seven years.
Judge Paris had the demanding experience of attending CSU C|M|LAW as an evening student while teaching, but even getting into that program presented a challenge. Her application was passed over the first time she applied, but committed to her dream, Michelle retook the LSAT and wrote several letters to the law school expressing her desire to attend.
“The moment my application went from the ‘no’ stack to the ‘yes’ stack changed my life forever,” recalled Judge Paris.
In the early stages of her time in law school, Michelle recognized a career in public service would match her interests. She worked as a clerk with the City of Cleveland Law Department while attending law school and went on to spend the bulk of her professional career as a Magistrate and Chief Magistrate with the Cleveland Municipal Court. She enjoyed the challenge of handling a wide variety of civil and criminal cases at the Court and credits her work as a magistrate in setting the foundation for becoming a respected judge.
Judge Paris is not the only employee of the Cleveland Municipal Court being recognized by the CMLAA. Her long-time colleague Gregory Clifford ’80, the current Chief Magistrate of the Cleveland Municipal Court, is also being recognized with the Alumni of the Year honor.
“Greg and I have been friends and colleagues for many years as we served as magistrates together in Cleveland Municipal Court for over 20 years,” explained Judge Paris. “It feels fitting that we are sharing this very special recognition together.”
Chief Magistrate Clifford and Judge Paris have more in common than their years spent working together at the Court – both are actively involved with CSU C|M|LAW and are members of the school’s Hall of Fame. Michelle serves on the school’s Board of Visitors, participate in the school’s mentor program and previously taught Consumer Law at the school as an adjunct professor.
“My involvement with Cleveland-Marshall is a labor of love,” said Judge Paris. “This school continues to add joy to my life as I build new friendships through the alumni network.
"As far as I am concerned this is the number one law school in Ohio,” continued Judge Paris. “This school has lifted so many to learn law and live justice!”
Judge Paris’ connections to her law school are also rooted at the personal level. Michelle met her husband, fellow CSU C|M|LAW Hall of Fame Member David Paris ’78, during her time in law school. She recalls initially being impressed by his knowledge of estoppel by deed while taking a real estate property course and continues to be proud of his work as Managing Partner at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy.
The Paris’ and their extended family’s legacy at CSU C|M|LAW goes far beyond David and Michelle. The couple’s daughter, Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy Partner Dana Paris ’12, is also a graduate of the law school. So too are Michelle’s brother Joseph Corsaro ‘82, nephew Joseph Corsaro ‘10, nephew Chris Holecek ‘88, his wife Tanja Holecek ’89, and nephew Mike Gardineer ’21.
“Who could have imagined that when our grandparents left Italy and landed in Cleveland to start a new life that so many members of our family would be Cleveland-Marshall graduates,” said Judge Paris. “This is the land of opportunities and C|M|LAW is a big part of that.”
What does being named CMLAA Alumni of the Year mean to you?
"Receiving this honor is a culmination of a lot of emotions but mostly a deep sense of gratitude. From the first day I walked into law school filled with anxiety, Cleveland-Marshall has been a safe harbor for me; a place to grow and a place to learn. The same holds true today but luckily with a lot less anxiety!"