Darrell Clay

Darrell A. Clay

Partner

Direct:  216.928.2896
Fax:  216.916.2335

dclay@walterhav.com

Focus Areas

Education

  • Tulane University School of Law, J.D., 1994, magna cum laude
  • University of South Florida, M.A., 1991; B.A., 1989

Licensed to Practice

  • Ohio & Louisiana
  • U.S. Third, Fifth, and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern, Middle & Western Districts of Louisiana
  • U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts, Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts, Northern & Southern Districts of Ohio

Overview

Darrell is a seasoned advocate and counselor who views dispute resolution as an exercise in complex problem-solving where success depends on knowledge of applicable law and procedure, creative thinking, and emotional intelligence. With substantial experience before federal courts, state courts, and administrative tribunals around the county, he regularly handles civil and white collar criminal disputes for a client base that includes individuals, business entities of all types and sizes, and governmental bodies. He is as comfortable advising in the boardroom as he is in standing before a judge or jury. In 2017-2018, Darrell served as President of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, the largest metropolitan bar association in the State of Ohio. He currently serves as Chair of the Board of Commissioners on Character and Fitness, an arm of the Supreme Court of Ohio responsible for ensuring that persons seeking admission to the practice of law in Ohio have the requisite character, fitness, and moral qualifications.

Darrell’s civil practice is multi-faceted. He advises, counsels, and represents clients in antitrust and unfair competition matters. He regularly performs antitrust reviews of business agreements and advises clients on strategies to avoid exposure to allegations of anti-competitive activity. He represents employers and employees in litigation over restrictive employment covenants and confidentiality agreements, including obtaining and opposing injunctive relief. He has significant experience in the law of trade secrets, including trying several such cases to jury verdict in state and federal court. He also counsels employers on structuring restrictive covenants to avoid having them judicially narrowed or invalidated. Darrell often represents law firms and attorneys, accountants and other service professionals in professional liability claims and other types of complex litigation. He has served as lead counsel in cases pursuing construction design and workmanship liability claims. He advises and litigates on behalf of individuals and business in disputes involving shareholder withdrawal or expulsion.

Drawing on his experience as an instrument-rated commercial pilot, Darrell is involved in a wide variety of aviation-related legal matters. He has defended commercial manufacturers and home builders of airplanes and helicopters in product liability and personal injury claims. He helps aircraft owners in addressing the complexities of buying and selling aircrafts. As a panel attorney for the Legal Services Plan of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Darrell has advised, counseled, and defended dozens of pilots, mechanics, and other certificate holders in FAA and NTSB enforcement proceedings and other aviation-related legal concerns.

In the criminal arena, Darrell has handled dozens of high-profile matters, including trying the first case ever brought to trial under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. He has represented and negotiated plea and immunity agreements for numerous clients, and is intimately familiar with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and the forfeiture laws of Ohio. He has successfully defeated various asset-forfeiture claims and advised clients on criminal restitution orders. He has also represented non-target witnesses in testimony before a grand jury and in responding to subpoenas for documents and electronic files.

For more than 15 years, Darrell has had deep involvement in attorney professionalism matters. For example, before joining the Character and Fitness Board in 2015, he appeared in a half-dozen cases on behalf of the CMBA. Since 2006, he has been a part of the attorney discipline process, having  investigated dozens of grievances on behalf of the CMBA’s Certified Grievance Committee. As an officer of the Grievance Committee from 2011 to 2014, Darrell was responsible for screening hundreds of grievances and making the initial determination whether a formal investigation should be conducted. Darrell has argued two attorney discipline cases before the Ohio Supreme Court, Cleveland Bar Association vs. Kodish, 2006-Ohio-4090 (increased recommended sanction to an indefinite suspension), and Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association vs. Moody, 2018-Ohio-4071 (imposing indefinite suspension on attorney who disparaged opposing counsel, was uncooperative in discovery, and told client to lie when deposed).

Darrell is a 2017 graduate of Leadership Cleveland and a 2013 alumnus of Cleveland Bridge Builders. Prior to joining Walter | Haverfield, Darrell practiced in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he served as a fellow in the nationally-recognized Institute of Politics. He also served as a judicial clerk to Judge Steven R. Plotkin of the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In his spare time, Darrell volunteers for Angel Flight, donating his time and airplane to fly persons in need of medical attention to destinations throughout the Midwest.

 

Experience

COMPLEX CIVIL LITIGATION
  • Lead trial counsel for a national distributor of indoor soccer fields in litigation alleging theft of trade secrets by an international supplier of artificial turf. Obtained jury verdict after one-week trial.
  • Lead defense counsel for an international distributor of telecommunications products in a breach of contract case. Conceived strategy to limit potential liability that led to pre-trial settlement.
  • Lead counsel for a national media publisher in restrictive covenant litigation. Commenced and resolved multiple actions to enforce terms-of-employment agreements with departed employees.
  • Defended manufacturer of high-performance general aviation aircraft in multiple litigation matters arising out of catastrophic aircraft crashes.
  • Defended a local accountant in multiple federal lawsuits and threatened actions arising out of the misconduct of former Cleveland stock broker Frank Gruttadauria.
  • Lead counsel for a municipality defending a federal lawsuit alleging Sherman Act violations. Motion to dismiss granted in all respects.
WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL MATTERS
  • Represented several clients implicated in various aspects of the federal government’s wide-ranging investigation of corruption in Cuyahoga County government.
  • Defended multiple individuals involved in separate criminal matters alleging securities fraud. Secured very favorable dispositions at sentencing for both clients.
  • Defended a local construction executive on charges that he conspired to avoid paying federally-mandated prevailing wage at three construction projects.
  • Defended a former senior executive of the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority against multiple felony charges of theft in office, which were eventually reduced to a single misdemeanor. Obtained sentence of probation only.
  • Defense counsel for the first case ever tried under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, along with a companion federal civil RICO/theft of trade secrets case.
  • Defended owner of national scrap metal recycler in three-week long federal jury trial on charges of price fixing and market allocation.
CREDITORS’ RIGHTS AND BANKRUPTCY
  • Defended a law firm in litigation brought by the United States Trustee alleging self-dealing and malfeasance in management of a prior firm.
  • Pursued claims for payment of pre-petition compensation to various manufacturer’s representatives.
  • Obtained an order declaring portions of a debtor’s debts non-dischargeable.
  • Pursued a $1.3 million judgment owed to a client across multiple states.

Recognition

  • 2018-2020 – Selected for inclusion in the 2018-2020 editions of The Best Lawyers in America©. Listed in the current edition for Criminal Defense – White Collar.
  • 2010-2018 – Selected to Ohio Super Lawyers list. Areas of practice: Business Litigation; Criminal Defense: White Collar; Aviation Law.
  • Named a “Leading Lawyer” by Inside Business in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 in the area of antitrust law.
  • Fellow, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.
  • Fellow, Class of 2008, Ohio State Bar Foundation.

 

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Recent Articles

Presentations

  • June 2013 – “Navigating the Legal Minefield,” Panel Presentation for the Annual Conference of the Public Radio News Directors, Inc.
  • December 14, 2010 -“Ethics Review for In-House Counsel and Compliance Professionals,” CMBA’s Banking and Financial Services Section “Compliance 2010” CLE
  • September 30, 2010 – “2010 Walter | Haverfield LLP Labor and Employment Law Seminar,” “Discovery Expectations,” Holiday Inn Independence, OH
  • “Understanding Electronic Discovery for the Aviation Professional,” Presentation at the Annual Convention of the Ohio Aviation Association (2007)
  • “Electronic Discovery for the Aviation Professional,” Ohio Airport Association Annual Meeting (2007)
  • “Find It Fast And Free On The Internet” for National Business Institute
  • “The Law of the Internet in Ohio” for National Business Institute
  • “Internet Basics for the Ohio Attorney” for National Business Institute
  • “Advanced Issues in Legal Technology for the Ohio Paralegal” for National Business Institute
  • “Effective Legal Writing for Paralegals in Ohio” for National Business Institute
  • “Excuse Me, But Where Can I Get My License to Practice Law in Cyberspace?” for the American Bar Association

Associations

Supreme Court of Ohio, Member, Board of Commissioners on Character & Fitness (2015-present).

Member, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (1997-present).

  • Vice President designee (2015-2016). Will serve as President-Elect in 2016-2017, and President in 2017-2018.
  • Vice President of Membership (2013-2015).
  • Member, Executive Committee (2012-present).
  • Member, Board of Trustees, (2010-2013).
  • Chair (2010-2011), Vice-Chair (2009-2010), Criminal Law Section.
  • Chair (2013-2014), First Vice-Chair (2012-2013), Second Vice-Chair (2011-2012), Member (2014-), and Trial Counsel (2000-present), Certified Grievance Committee.
  • Vice-Chair (2014-2015) and Member, Bar Admissions Committee (2010-present), Appeals Subcommittee (2012-present), and By-Laws Revision Commission (2014-2015).
  • Chair (2013-present) and Member (2012-present), Membership Committee.
  • Member, Judicial Selection and Judicial Qualification Committees (2012-present).
  • Member, Section and Committee Oversight Committee (2012-2014).
  • Member, Civility and Professionalism Task Force (2013-present).

Member, Ohio State Bar Association (1997-present).

  • District 12 Council of Delegates (2012-present).

Master of the Bench, William K. Thomas American Inn of Court (2014-present).

Instrument-rated private pilot and owner of N62TB, a 1985 Socata Trinidad. Volunteer pilot for Angel Flight East, Central, and Mid-Atlantic, and LifeLine Pilots. Profiled in “Meet ‘Angel’ Attorney Darrell Clay,” Inside Business (April 2007). Flew a Cessna 172 to Alaska in the summer of 2005. Member of the Board of Directors of Skypark, Inc., a privately-owned, public-use airport in Wadsworth, Ohio (2007-present). Secretary, Skypark Airport Condominium Association, Inc. (2009-present).

Civil Air Patrol, United States Air Force Auxiliary. Senior Member, Lorain County Composite Squadron (2015-present). Secretary, Ohio Regional Business Aviation Association (2010-2014).

Twenty years of experience as a soccer referee, with more than 1000 matches officiated at all age and competition levels. USSF, NISOA, and OHSAA Class 1 referee licenses.

Vice President (2005-present) and District Advisory Member (2001-2005), Northern Ohio Collegiate Soccer Officials Association, Inc. Secretary, Ohio North State Referee Committee, Inc. (2003-2010).

Cleveland Leadership Center

  • Graduate, Cleveland Bridge Builders (Class of 2013).
  • Mentor, Cleveland Bridge Builders (Class of 2014).
  • Member, Cleveland Bridge Builders LAP Selection Panel (Classes of 2015 and 2016).
  • Alumni PARTNER member.
  • Member, Leadership Council (2015-2016).

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