May 14, 2021Darrell Clay

Former Walter | Haverfield litigation partner, Darrell A. Clay, is the newest Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Ohio federal court. Clay is succeeding James R. Knepp II, who was recently elevated to serve as a district judge, and he will be based at U.S. Courthouse in Toledo.

Clay follows former Walter | Haverfield attorney, Jonathan D. Greenberg, who also became a magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in 2016.

“Although it’s a bittersweet goodbye, we are extremely proud to see Darrell selected as a magistrate judge,” said Ralph Cascarilla, managing partner of Walter | Haverfield. “He is an experienced litigator, and has all the capabilities and sound moral standing needed to become highly esteemed and successful in his new positon.”

For 24 years, Clay has focused his practice on labor and employment, litigation and white collar criminal defense at Walter | Haverfield. With substantial experience before federal courts, state courts, and administrative tribunals around the country, he regularly handles civil and white collar criminal disputes for individuals, business entities and governmental bodies. His last day at the firm was May 3, 2021.

“Walter | Haverfield is a unique law firm full of special people,” said Clay, who served as president of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association in 2017-2018. “It was a privilege to work there for more than two decades, and I’ll greatly miss my colleagues and valued clients.”

Clay said his seven years as a member of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners on Character and Fitness, including the last three as its Chair, is what initially piqued his interest in jumping to the other side of legal decision-making and becoming a magistrate judge.

“This feels like the right time for me to transition into this role,” Clay said. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to parlay my experience as a courtroom advocate into deciding cases, as opposed to arguing them.”

Selection as a magistrate judge is the culmination of a multi-stage process involving a lengthy written application, an interview by a panel of attorneys from throughout the Northern District of Ohio, and ultimately a final interview by all current judges of the Northern District. Full-time magistrate judges serve for renewable terms of eight years.

Clay will have broad and varied responsibilities as a magistrate judge. These include presiding over preliminary proceedings in criminal cases, conducting pretrial matters and evidentiary proceedings on referral from district judges, and overseeing trial and disposition of civil cases upon consent of the litigants.

An instrument-rated commercial pilot and aircraft owner, Clay will continue serving as President-Elect of the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association. In August 2021, he will be sworn-in as President of that group, the largest specialty bar association focused on the unique legal issues at play in the aviation industry.

“I am looking forward to conquering a new level of problem-solving,” said Clay. “My time and experience at Walter | Haverfield has prepared me for the next phase of my legal career, and I’m ready get started on this exciting journey.”

Since 1932, Walter | Haverfield attorneys have served as strategic counselors to private businesses, public entities and high-net-worth individuals, providing creative and customized solutions that deliver outstanding results at an exceptional value. Our track record has allowed us to sustain year-after-year growth. Walter | Haverfield has doubled its size in the past decade to become a top Ohio-based law firm. Today, our team of nearly 100 attorneys is focused primarily in the areas of business services, real estate, intellectual property, labor and employment, education, tax and wealth management, hospitality and liquor control, litigation and public law.