News » Alumni Notes Classes 1980-1989

John C. McCarron, ’87 J.D.


Downey Brand LLP is pleased to announce that attorney John McCarron has been named a 2017 Top Lawyer by Sacramento Magazine. The list of Top Lawyers was compiled from votes from licensed attorneys throughout the region recommending colleagues in more than 50 legal disciplines. The nominees were carefully evaluated on the basis of the survey results, legitimacy of their license, and State Bar standing. Attorneys who received the highest number of votes in each discipline received a Top Lawyer designation and will be featured in the August issue of Sacramento Magazine.

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Thomas S. O’Neill, ’89 J.D.

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Thomas S. O’Neill has been promoted to senior vice president and general counsel of Exelon. O’Neill was formerly senior vice president, Energy and Regulatory Policy and general counsel at Exelon utility ComEd. While at ComEd, O’Neill played a key role in the development and passage of two major pieces of Illinois legislation, the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2011 and the Future Energy Jobs Bill, passed in 2016. In his new role, O’Neill will serve as the top legal advisor to Exelon’s senior management and oversee the company’s legal and corporate governance departments.

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Todd A. Leeson, ’89 J.D.

Gentry Locke is pleased to announce that attorney Todd Leeson has been named to Virginia Business magazine’s 2016 Legal Elite list in the area of Labor and Employment Law.

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Todd A. Leeson, ‘89 J.D.

Gentry Locke is pleased to announce that partner Todd Leeson in Roanoke, Virginia has been named in the 2017 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Leeson was selected for his work in the areas of Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management, and Litigation – Labor and Employment.

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Stephen R. Clark, ’88 J.D.

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Stephen Clark, managing partner of RUNNYMEDE law group in St. Louis, Missouri, has been recognized as a SuperLawyer for the ninth time and eighth consecutive year. Clark is recognized in the field of complex business litigation.

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Mark Spitler, ’82 J.D.

Mark Spitler, a partner at Gibson, McAskill and Crosby, LLP, has been selected as the 2017 Best Lawyers, Lawyer of the Year, for Professional Malpractice-Defendants in Buffalo, New York.

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Lauretta K. Murphy, ’88 J.D.


Lauretta Murphy, Chair of the Estate Planning Group, at the firm of Miller Johnson in Grand Rapids, Michigan was recognized in the Chambers High Net Worth Guide. Murphy works with individuals as well as multi-generational families to preserve their assets, protect their legacies and promote their philanthropic values. The HNW guide covers 35 jurisdictions worldwide

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In Memoriam: John George Coutilish, '87 J.D.

It is with great sadness that the Law School announces the sudden passing of John Coutilish on July 20, 2016 in Rochester Hills, Michigan. John maintained a private law practice in Oakland County. Please view the obituary for more about John’s life.

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In Memoriam: Patrick Joseph Pedro, ’84 J.D.

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It is with a heavy heart that the Law School announces the passing of Patrick Pedro on May 28th, 2016 after a courageous and faith-filled battle against ALS. Patrick began his career at Bond, Schoeneck and King in Syracuse, New York in 1984, became a partner in 1993 and practiced there his entire career until his retirement in 2014. View a beautiful tribute to Patrick’s life here.

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Kim L. Kirn, ’85 J.D.

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Kim Kirn has been elected Chair of the Labor & Employment section of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis (BAMSL) for 2016-2017. Ms. Kirn currently serves on the mediator and Senior Arbitrator panel at United States Arbitration & Mediation (USA&M), the leading provider of mediation and arbitration services.…

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Cristina Portela Solomon, '84 J.D.

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Cristina Portela Solomon is the 2016-2017 president of the Houston Association of Women Attorneys. AWA is the only organization in the Houston area that focuses exclusively on the advancement of women law students, lawyers and judges. A labor and employment partner in the Houston office of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, she is a seasoned trial lawyer who represents clients on employment matters in both state and federal court. She devotes a significant amount of her practice to trade secret litigation and has developed a reputation throughout Texas for successfully prosecuting and defending cases involving emergency relief in injunctive proceedings.

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Dennis M. Barnes, '86 J.D.

Dennis Barnes, a partner with Barris, Sott, Denn & Drinker, in Detroit has been selected as a fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America. The Litigation Counsel of America is an invitation-only trial lawyer honorary society. Membership is limited to 3,500 Fellows, representing less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers. Barnes concentrates his practice on complex business litigation, including professional liability defense, insurance coverage litigation, intellectual property disputes, and other business tort and contract disputes.

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Wayne Malecha, ’86 J.D.

Wayne Malecha, a partner at Jackson Walker, has been recognized as one of the 500 most influential business leaders in Dallas-Fort Worth by D CEO Magazine in its inaugural edition of the “Dallas 500”. Malecha was one of only six real estate attorneys to be honored. Malecha represents national, regional and local clients in a wide range of real estate and other business transactions. Additionally, Malecha recently represented the court-appointed receiver in the sale of the Waggoner Ranch, the largest single-fence ranch in the U.S. Read more about this case here.

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Judy Bernardino, ’89 J.D.

Judy Bernardino has won the prestigious UCLA Extension Writer’s Program Feature Film and Television Writing Competition in her category of Television Spec teleplay. Bernardino’s scrip for the HBO series VEEP, entitled “Mabel”, comedically addresses the frustrations of the lead character, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, as she powers through her job as a U.S. President who strives to hide her volatile nature from the voting public.

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Linda M. Toutant, ’88 J.D.


Linda Toutant has joined the firm of Klinedinst PC as a senior counsel in Los Angeles, California. Toutant is a business litigator with more than twenty years of experience. While Toutant has practiced in all areas of business-related civil litigation, she possesses substantial experience representing businesses in class action disputes, wage and hour claims, employee classification actions, and claims alleging harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation. She also advises employers concerning matters of hiring, termination, promotion, testing, disability, and family accommodations and leave.

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Mary Beth Uetz Kelly, ’87 J.D.


Justice Mary Beth Kelly has retired from the Michigan Supreme Court and joined Bodman PLC in Detroit. Kelly will serve as a partner and vice chair of the firm’s litigation and alternative dispute resolution practice group. Kelly joins private practice after serving as a Supreme Court justice for four and a half years and sixteen years in the judiciary. Read more

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Brian E. O’Donnell, ’89 J.D.


Morristown-based law firm Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP is pleased to announce that partner Brian O’Donnell, co-chair of the Firm’s Insurance and Reinsurance Group, has been named a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, an invitation-only trial lawyer honorary society. Fellows are selected and invited into the Litigation Counsel after being evaluated for effectiveness and accomplishment in litigation and trial work, along with ethical reputation.

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Tom Ajamie, ’85 J.D.


Tom Ajamie, founder of Ajamie LLP, was recently included in the National Law Journal list of the Top 50 Litigation Trailblazers & Pioneers. Ajamie continues to focus his practice on “representing the underdog against abusers of power” and his accomplishments include the largest securities arbitration win in history. Ajamie has offices in both Houston and New York.

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Thomas Ahearne, ’81 Finds Meaning in a Fight for Education Funding in the State of Washington

Thomas Ahearne, a graduate of Notre Dame and University of Chicago Law School, had risen at a powerful Seattle firm by working for business clients who took on insurance companies, often winning millions of dollars. Ahearne, upon the suggestion of a colleague, decided to put his litigation skills to work in fighting the state of Washington over education funding. Read more in the Boston Globe.

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Dennis M. Barnes, ’86 J.D.

Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker is pleased to announce that Dennis M. Barnes has been elected as the next Treasurer of the State Bar of Michigan. The State Bar’s election of Barnes to this officer position is not only a recognition of his leadership in the State Bar of Michigan, but also a recognition of his dedication to its primary purpose, protection of the public, and its mission, promoting improvements in the administration of justice and advancements in jurisprudence, and in improving relations between the legal profession and the public. Barnes was initially elected to the State Bar Board of Commissioners in 2010, and has served on its Executive Committee since 2012. Barnes has served in several different bar and professional organizations, and is a past-President of the Federal Bar Association’s Eastern District of Michigan Chapter. He concentrates his practice on complex business litigation, including professional liability defense, insurance coverage litigation, intellectual property disputes, and other business tort and contract disputes.

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The Honorable Michael Gotsch, Sr., '79, '87 JD Receives ISBA Outstanding Judge Award

gotsch_isba_award Judge Michael G. Gotsch Sr. (right)

Judge Michael G. Gotsch Sr., who has served on the bench in the St. Joseph Circuit Court since 2004, was recently honored as the recipient of the Outstanding Judge Award from the Indiana State Bar Association’s (ISBA) Young Lawyers Section at the ISBA’s annual meeting. Over the years, Gotsch has been appointed to serve on numerous national and state committees and task forces. Additionally, Gotsch is an adjunct faculty member at Notre Dame Law School. Read the full news release.

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Nancy J. Gargula, ’81 J.D.


Nancy Gargula will receive the 2015 Woman for All Seasons Award from the St. Thomas More Society of Indianapolis at the annual Red Mass Dinner on October 5, 2015. This award is given annually to an individual whose life and work exemplifies the ideals of St. Thomas More who was an English lawyer, author and statesman. As Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII of England, More was widely recognized as one of the greatest lawyers of his time, a dedicated husband and father, and a man of deep faith. Among her notable accomplishments that led to her selection were Nancy’s distinguished legal career (which has included her role as the general counsel and Secretary to the Board of one of the nation’s largest financial institutions, partnership in a large multi-jurisdictional law firm and her current service as the United States Trustee for Region 10 and for nine years Region 13 as well for the past 14 years), her shining example of the Catholic faith by giving generously of her time (Past President of the St. Thomas More Society and Board member for 34 years; Red Mass Planning Chair for 34 years; Past President of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation, service on six professional associations and non-profit Boards for the past 30 years including serving as the Region 8 Director on the Notre Dame Law Association Board for the past 3 years; service on the Indiana Supreme Court’s IOLTA Committee, community volunteer for numerous organizations, events and projects), her talent (Red Mass Cantor for 33 years; Cantor, Choir Member at her parish for 25 years; cantor for parish funerals, weddings and festivals), and treasure (Nancy and her siblings established The Joseph T. Helling Memorial Scholarship Fund in memory of her father who also taught at the Notre Dame Law School; Nancy and Mark Gargula Endowment for Excellence in Public Service at the University of Notre Dame Law School established on the occasion of Nancy and Mark’s 30th Anniversary of graduating from the law school; member of the Miter Society for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis; Indianapolis Zoological Society Nussbaum Member) as well as the number of awards she has received during her career, including Distinguished Fellow and Patron Fellow of the Indianapolis Bar and Indiana State Bar Associations, Board of Manager’s Award, President’s Award and Distinguished Barrister Award, to name a few. A unanimous decision was reached that Nancy’s life, work and extraordinary legal career exemplify the ideals of St. Thomas More.

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Kim L. Kirn, ’85 J.D.

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Kim Kirn has been elected to the National Board of Directors of the ASSOCIATION ATTORNEY MEDIATORS (AAM) based in Dallas, Texas. AAM is a nonprofit trade association of highly trained, professional attorney-mediators. AAM’s 400 plus members have collectively mediated in excess of 300,000 cases. Kirn mediates employment, real estate and commercial disputes through U.S. Arbitration & Mediation (USA&M) in Missouri and Illinois. She also works as an arbitrator throughout the Midwest.

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In Memoriam: Michael J. Curley, ’80 J.D.

It is with great sadness that the Law School announces the passing of Michael Curley in Phoenix, Arizona. Michael started his law career at Jennings, Strouss and Salmon and after a short time began his long partnership at Earl, Curley & Lagarde in their zoning practice. Please view the online obituary

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John G. Mauel, ’86 J.D.


John Mauel has joined Norton Rose Fulbright as a partner in its Houston office. Prior to this position, Mauel practiced for eight years at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman where he focused his practice on the development, financing, acquisition and disposition of energy and infrastructure projects, ranging from oil and gas to LNG to electric power. Mauel, who has been recognized by Chambers Global in each of the last six years, said: “Having worked in this firm’s Houston office for the first 15 years of my 29-year career, I know that the energy industry is central to both its mission and its success. Coming back to Norton Rose Fulbright with its expanded global platform will provide even greater opportunities to be of service to our clients involved in complex cross-border energy projects.”

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Michael O. Kenney, ’80 BA, ’83 J.D.


Michael Kenney has been appointed the first president of Fr. Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Kenney is currently vice president for planning and enrollment management for Madonna University. “Father Gabriel Richard High School has an extraordinary history and a bright future due to the dedication of the school’s principal, Brian Wolcott, and that of the faculty, staff, parents and students,” Kenney said in a statement. “I am excited to engage the local community, to serve the students and their families and to strive with the faculty to enable Father Gabriel Richard High School to be recognized as a national model of excellence.”

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