His Legal Career Was the Result of Fate: Meet Doug Dennis '95
Doug Dennis ’95 has had several careers. His first one started at the United States Military Academy. After graduating, he served in the Army for five years; then, he took a position at the Pentagon working for a consulting company while his wife went to school to get her MBA. Although Dennis enjoyed the people he met and worked with, his job wasn’t ideal. His plan was to continue working at the Pentagon until his wife completed her degree, at which point he would go back to school. For what? He didn’t know. During this time, however, Dennis’s brother was in law school. Through conversations about what his brother was studying, Dennis says he “became hooked” and decided he, too, would study law.
When his wife finished her degree, Dennis applied to 24 law schools, most of which were on the East Coast. His wife, however, got a job with Procter & Gamble at the Cincinnati office; so Dennis began looking at the possibility of law school at UC. “The law school had (Senior Assistant Dean) Al Watson,” he said, “which helped sell it. And that’s how I ended up in Cincinnati.”
Life at a Law Firm
During his first summer at the law school, Dennis worked at McIlwain & McIlwain, doing mostly workers compensation-type work. “The job was very valuable in terms of practical experience,” said Dennis, “and in terms of learning the functions of different players in the legal system—from runners and clerks to counsels and judges.” Dennis also volunteered at the zoo that summer, which proved to be an invaluable experience. “I love the zoo,” he laughed. “But more importantly, it introduced me to a lot of different people, which was very valuable.”
The following summer, Dennis worked at a mid-sized firm, which no longer exists, where he had the opportunity to do “a little of everything.” He noted that the experience was positive in that it provided him with the opportunity to gain exposure to a lot of different practice areas. He hoped to work there after graduation, he commented, but that unexpectedly did not work out.
Instead, Dennis’s first job out of law school was more the result of serendipity. “I had applied to a University of Chicago writing competition,” he said, “and received an award for the entry. Judge Mark Painter happened to be present when I accepted it, and he decided that he wanted a clerk who could write. I ended up working for him for two years at the Ohio First District Court of Appeals.” Following his clerkship, Dennis accepted a position as an associate at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP in the insurance litigation section. He was part of a team helping insurance companies fight companies that produced products that included asbestos.
Finding His Way
Shortly afterward, Dennis moved to Frost Brown Todd LLC. He decided to switch, he said, because “Frost was willing to let me make my own path and figure out what kind of lawyer I wanted to be.” He has been with Frost for 11 years as a member of the litigation department, focusing on appellate advocacy, products liability, ERISA litigation, and some commercial litigation.
In addition to his successful legal career, Dennis is also a baseball writer for www.baseballhq.com. He has contributed to USA Today, Baseball Weekly, ESPN, and Fox Sports periodically, and he spent two years consulting for the St. Louis Cardinals. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, their two children, and their cat; he also serves on the College of Law’s Board of Visitors and the Cincinnati Bar Association’s Board of Trustees.