Attorney at Law Magazine Cleveland Publisher Jim Shultz sat down with Daniel McGowan to discuss his career.
AALM: when did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
McGowan: I went to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and I’m doing now what I have dreamed of for many years – working as an in-house volunteer attorney for Legal Aid in the housing section. I always loved the idea of being a lawyer for persons who are economically disadvantaged. When I went to college and studied political science I knew that I wanted to do something that would give me an opportunity to be exposed to public interest work. My career path has given me the liberty to do now what I have dreamed of doing for a long time.
AALM: What have you learned from your experience in public interest law?
McGowan: Working in the housing section has convinced me that our community should consider spending more to help people find lawyers. I have read some studies that show that eviction chances decrease 75 percent if the tenant has a lawyer. Another study demonstrated that providing legal representation to all low-income tenants would actually save the community money by keeping thousands of families out of shelters, along with other savings, such as through the preservation of rentregulated affordable housing.
AALM: Describe your practice.
McGowan: My wife, Kim, and I moved to Ohio this summer from Florida to raise our family in Lakewood – a place we have always loved. When I’m not at the Legal Aid office, I am working at my small law practice in downtown Cleveland where I am a trial lawyer with a focus on probate litigation.
Working as a probate lawyer in South Florida for several years gave me a solid set of advocacy skills especially suited for the dynamics of inheritance disputes. I have always found jury trials in the probate context to be fascinating and have studied the evolution of probate jurisprudence from its earliest days in England by the ecclesiastical Courts of Ordinary.
My success as a trial lawyer in Florida is what has given me the opportunity to give back to the community through public interest work. I also write a blog that discusses contemporary issues in estate and trust litigation in Florida and Ohio and am working on starting a blog that covers landlord and tenant issues in Ohio.
AALM: What do you find rewarding about being an attorney?
McGowan: Being a lawyer has exposed me to many opportunities to help people. It started early when I was in law school and worked in a program in Cleveland for adjudicated juveniles as an alternative to incarceration. Later, I was able to use what I learned from that experience when I worked with the legal defender’s office inSummit County in the juvenile court system.
Being a lawyer has allowed me to work with many great volunteer legal aid organizations like the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Th e Broward County Legal Aid Society and Community Legal Services here in Northeast Ohio. My reputation for ethics and professionalism paved the way for me to be appointed to the Florida Probate Rules committee which was an extremely rewarding position and gave me a chance to participate in the legislative and rule making process in a meaningful way. For example, it provided a forum to address some due process issues that were really only visible to a law practitioner and most easily addressed through the rule making process.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
McGowan: Anyone else with small children already knows the answer to this question! I’m also a trumpet and piano player and a jazz lover.