Tuesday February 2, 2016

Spotlight on Alumni: Brandon McClain '11

Brandon Charles McClain, Magistrate in the Dayton Municipal Court, remembers a turning point in his life.

As a young child, McClain was inspired by the commanding presence of one particular attorney featured in a high profile case on television- Johnnie Cochran, Jr. “The way people gravitated to this man was something special that couldn't be ignored,” recalled McClain.

Determined to be a lawyer himself one day, McClain began to watch Court TV with his single mother, Barbara. “The practice of law was the only thing I knew of where I could argue and receive a paycheck,” joked McClain, who grew up in his grandmother's house in rural North Carolina.

After serving in the Army National Guard, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Then, while taking classes to earn his master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati, McClain also entered the Two-Year J.D. Program at the University of Dayton School of Law in 2009. There he served as the Treasurer of the Student Bar Association and was awarded the Pro Bono Commitment to Community Award.

“I was looking for a quality education that would make me competitive sooner,” he said on why he chose Dayton Law. “Back then, only a few programs offered a two-year option where I could limit my financial burden. I didn't want to pay for three years if I could do it in two.”

After graduating and passing the Ohio Bar in 2011, McClain entered private practice and began handling cases statewide in the areas of criminal law, general civil litigation, and family law. In 2013, he joined the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office as a docket attorney and was assigned to the Dayton Municipal Court as well as the Montgomery County Common Pleas Veteran's Court. As a veteran himself, McClain was, and still is, particularly passionate about assisting veterans.

McClain not only realized his goal of becoming a lawyer, but last December, was sworn in as a Magistrate in the Dayton Municipal Court. Today, he presides over cases in the areas of general civil litigation, traffic and criminal law.

His advice to new and prospective law students is straightforward. “Believe in yourself, don't get bogged down about grades and assume it means you can't do something,” said McClain. “In law school, I was always in the middle of the pack, but I didn't let that affect my effort.  Always put your best foot forward and know you can do anything. Zealous representation is what matters to the everyday citizen. “

McClain expressed that he believes Dayton Law equips its students with the ability to persevere and that skill transfers to the real world. He noted that in the practice of law, “Sometimes you need to dig deep and persist to get justice for your clients. You might not win all the rounds, but you have to continue on with the fight.”

McClain believes that preparation is the key to success. “When I look back, I realize it was never about being the best in the room; it's about being able to communicate well with others and convey the law in a way that is understandable to everyone. “

Today, Magistrate McClain is active within the Dayton community. He currently serves on the Big Brothers Big Sisters Associate Board, DayMont Behavioral Health Care Board of Trustees, Greater Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project Board of Trustees, Legal Subcommittee of the Montgomery County Ex-Offender Re-Entry Program, and the Sinclair Community College Paralegal Advisory Committee.

McClain is also committed to helping young people. He speaks at area high schools and participates in the Men of Color Initiative, which is a local effort dedicated to introducing positive role models into the lives of at-risk youth. “So many kids lack structure and someone who is willing to hold them accountable. Without boundaries, they often become adults who don't understand restrictions. Intervention at a young age is incredibly important if the goal is to avoid criminalization in adulthood,” expressed McClain.

When asked, Magistrate McClain credits his steady success to his own mother for being “stern but fair.” He stated, “Life and the legal profession are like the tortoise and the hare; slow and steady wins the race.”


For more information, or to submit a news item, contact Denise Baker, assistant director of communications at the University of Dayton School of Law, at lawcomm@udayton.edu. Or submit your news online here.

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