Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association Alumni of the Year recipient Tim Collins ’85 vividly remembers being called on in Professor David Goshien’s contracts class during his first year at CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Professor Goshien had a policy of asking students to stand at their seat and be fully prepared when called on or they would be excused from class—permanently. The first time Tim was called on, he had read four of the five cases assigned for that day but only skimmed the fifth case. Called upon to discuss the fifth case, Tim struggled, only to be saved by the clock by the end class. After that day, Tim vowed to always be prepared and to complete whatever work is needed in any matter, and to be ready to respond to whatever the court asks. It is a credo that has served the Principal at Thrasher Dinsmore & Dolan well in more than 30 years of litigation practice.
Tim first became interested in litigation after a summer clerkship in the US Attorney's Office following his first year of law school. It motivated Tim to join the CSU C|M|LAW Moot Court team, at the time advised by Professor Stephen Weber. During those two years, he developed legal research, brief writing and oral advocacy skills, and earned the opportunity to compete at the F. Lee Bailey National Moot Court Competition in San Diego, CA. The now veteran litigator credits those experiences and his education at CSU Cleveland-Marshall with preparing him for a decorated practice.
“At Cleveland-Marshall, I learned about hard work, about having good relationships with my classmates, and the importance of aspiring to learn new things about the law,” Collins said. “There could have been no better preparation for entering the practice of law in Northeast Ohio than the path through Cleveland-Marshall.”
Tim’s practice has focused on business litigation including complex commercial trials, appeals and arbitration, class action cases and receiverships. He has served as receiver and counsel to a receiver in more than 50 state court cases in recent years, where he managed and sold and/or acted as counsel for a national wholesale lumber business, a regional airport fixed base operation, downtown Cleveland office towers and store fronts, and dozens of commercial and residential structures. Tim was a longtime Partner at Collins & Scanlon, alongside fellow CSU C|M|LAW graduate Thomas Scanlon ’63, before joining Thrasher Dinsmore Dolan in 2019.
Tim has maintained an active relationship with CSU C|M|LAW during his practice and considers his interactions with the CMLAA, fellow alumni, the law school, and its students to have been some of the most rewarding of his professional career. He is a member of the CSU C|M|LAW Board of Visitors and previously served as CMLAA president.
“I had role models in lawyers I worked with who remained involved with Cleveland-Marshall after graduation,” Collins said, noting that Collins & Scanlon had three partners who served as president of the Cleveland Marshall Law Alumni Association, two partners who have been named CMLAA Alumni of the Year, and two partners who are in the CSU C|M|LAW Hall of Fame. “Hence, I am following in the steps of others who went before me by remaining involved. Additionally, being involved with the school and the association also is a great way to make my own law school diploma more valuable, by paying it forward in supporting the current law students.”
This November, Tim will also be inducted into the CSU C|M|LAW Hall of Fame. His other professional leadership roles include having been a member of two Ohio Supreme Court task forces/committees and serving for the last six years on the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct. He is also a co-founder and officer of the Irish American Law Society of Cleveland, formed in 2015 to facilitate dialogue between lawyers of Irish backgrounds in Ohio, Ireland and beyond.
Tim was the first member of his family to enter the legal profession but not the last. His daughter Elizabeth (Liz) Collins Cochran ’13 and son-in-law Jim Cochran ’12 are both graduates of CSU C|M|LAW. Liz currently works alongside her father as an associate attorney at Thrasher Dinsmore & Dolan. His daughter-in-law Anastasiya Collins graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2019, and his son Matt will be attending law school in the fall.
What does being named CMLAA Alumni of the Year mean to you?
"Cleveland-Marshall is a law school of opportunity; it was for me as well. Previous generations of my family included very few college graduates, and no lawyers. I was given the opportunity to practice law by the willingness of the law school to take on a new initiate with no legal background, help me learn from the ground up, and send me out to practice with all the tools a law school can provide. I am very proud to have received a Cleveland-Marshall legal education, in and out of class, which has well served my legal career. This award reflects well on that education."