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The University of Cincinnati Law Alumni Association Announces the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners


Cincinnati, OH—For 180 years, University of Cincinnati College of Law graduates have made their mark on the world as leaders of the bench and bar, in senior governmental positions, in the public service community, and in business, academia, and countless other fields. Friday, May 17, 2013 brought an opportunity to acknowledge and applaud three of them. Congratulations to the most recipients of the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award:  Daniel J. Buckley '74, Hon. Dennis S. Helmick '72, and James L. Johnson '80.

The Distinguished Alumni Award, voted by College of Law alumni, honors those graduated who exemplify excellence and achievement in their chosen field of practice or procession. Their achievements are a testament to the college’s tradition of distinction.

Meet the 2013 Award Recipients
Daniel J. Buckley '74

Daniel Buckley, a partner in the Cincinnati office of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, practices in the area of civil litigation. His focus includes banking, complex business, probate, fiduciary, and medical privacy cases.  After attending the University of Aberdeen, Scotland and the University of Exeter, U.K., he received a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University. He then went on to the College of Law, graduating in 1974. At the law school Buckley served as Case Note Editor on the University of Cincinnati Law Review.  Buckley began his career as a law clerk for the Hon. Julius J. Hoffman, Senior US District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois.  Throughout his professional life he has served as an adjunct professor at the College of Law, teaching in the area of trial skills. In fact, Buckley received the 2009 Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. He has served on the college’s 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.  Buckley 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 the Hon. Ann Marie Tracey ‘75, a 2007 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. 

Honorable Dennis S. Helmick ‘72

The Honorable 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 college’s Board of Visitors, and vice president of the Potter Stewart American Inn of Court.

Helmick is married to Bertha Garcia Helmick ’95.

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 1964 graduate of Walnut Hills High School, 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 in this role were varied.  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.

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.