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2013 Distinguished Alumni Award Luncheon

The University of Cincinnati Law Alumni Association hosted the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award Luncheon on

Date: Friday, May 17, 2013

Time: 12:00 (noon)

Location: Westin Cincinnati

This year's award recipients are Daniel J. Buckley '74. Hon. Dennis S. Helmick '72, and James L. Johnson '80.

Daniel J. Buckley '74

Dan Buckley is a partner in the Cincinnati office of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease.  His practice is civil litigation that includes banking, complex business, probate and fiduciary, and medical privacy cases.  He is a 1974 graduate of the UC College of Law, where he was Case Note Editor on the Law Review.  He received his B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1971 and attended the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.  After law school, he was Law Clerk to Hon. Julius J. Hoffman, Senior US District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois.  He was Adjunct Professor of Trial Skills at the College of Law for 15 years and received the Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in 2009.  He has served on the Board of Visitors since 2001.

Buckley is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and currently serves as Chair of its committee on Special Problems in the Administration of Justice.  He was recognized as a founding member of The Best Lawyers in America “Bet the Company” category and remains a member.  He is included in two additional categories, Commercial Litigation and Personal Injury.  He has been recognized in Chambers USA in General Commercial Litigation and as an Ohio Super Lawyer in Business Litigation since 2004.  He was inducted into the American Board of Trial Advocates in 2005.  In 2007, he received the BTI Consulting Group award for superior client service.  He serves on the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati.

Buckley is married to Ann Marie Tracey, a former recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award.  They share five daughters and nine grandchildren.

Hon. Dennis S. Helmick '72

Judge Dennis S. Helmick, a native of the tri-state, has a long, distinguished career in the legal field. A graduate of Xavier High School and Xavier University, he went on to receive his juris doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1972. After being admitted to the bar, Helmick worked as an Associate with the law firm Wood, Lamping, Slutz and Reckman (now known as Wood and Lamping LLP).  From there, he went on to work for the city as Assistant City of Cincinnati Solicitor, assigned to the Prosecutor’s Office.

Ten years later in 1983 Helmick became Special Counsel to the Ohio Attorney General, a position he held for seven years, after which he went into private practice. In 1990, he was elected to the Hamilton County Municipal Court. In 2001 Judge Helmick won election as Common Pleas Judge of Hamilton County, a position he held until 2012. (In 2011, he was recognized as Presiding/Administrative Judge of the court.) Earlier this year Helmick was named a retiring visiting judge.

Throughout the years Judge Helmick served in many leadership positions, including as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati Bar Association, president of the University of Cincinnati Law Alumni Association, a member of the Selective Service Board (appointed by President Ronald Reagan), a member of the law school’s Board of Visitors, and vice president of the Potter Stewart American Inn of Court.

Helmick is married to Bertha Garcia Helmick ’95. They are parents of Ryan, a Fellow at the Mayo Clinic, and Caroline, a third-year law student at Capital University Law School.

James L. Johnson '80

James "Jim" Johnson grew up in the public housing community of Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood where he attended Washburn and Hays elementary schools.  A graduate of Walnut Hills High School (1964), he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1970 and his law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1980.

Johnson retired from a 25-year career with the City of Cincinnati in December 2005.  He spent the majority of that time as a Senior Assistant City Solicitor.  His assignments as a Senior Assistant City Solicitor were varied.  

Johnson created the Summer Work Experience in Law (SWEL) in 1988 as a pilot program of the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati/Cincinnati Bar Association Round Table. The program consisted of seven high school student interns that first year. As SWEL’s creator, Johnson , has served as an inspiring role model and dedicated volunteer in the education and development of young African Americans.  

Johnson joined the Juvenile Court Division of the Law Office of the Hamilton County Public Defender in January 2008 where he is now a Team Leader supervising seven other attorneys.