JVR Trial Excellence Awards 2022

Justice Charles Evans Hughes, former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, once said that ‘The highest reward that can come to a lawyer is the esteem of his professional brethren.’ It is hard to argue with that sentiment and I, for one, agree with it entirely. Certainly, the award that the Law Bulletin awards tonight recognizes that Dick has won the esteem of his peers. But how is it that this recognition comes about? The esteem of your peers is very precious but it is not something that can be purchased or bargained for. For the trial lawyer like Dick Donohue, that esteem is earned during countless appearances and a series of hotly contested trials against worthy adversaries. It was gained by Dick because during those numerous courtroom battles he has demonstrated a level of character, integrity and intellectual honesty that simply ‘rose above.’ He possesses the innate trial skills that are admired even by his most antagonistic opponent. I regret that he and I never had the chance to try a case but on more than one occasion I went to see him work his magic in the court room. There it was evident that he had the respect of all in the court room — judge, jury and attorneys alike. Dick is a special man and a special trial lawyer and he is very much worthy of the esteem this Trial Excellence Award confers upon him.” William F. Cunningham, Cunningham Meyer & Vedrine

Dick Donohue, Don Brown, Kent Mathewson, Rob Smyth

Donohue also took a job as a legal officer during his time in the Navy, attending the Naval Justice School. He enjoyed his time at the school and his legal duties. When Donohue left the Navy, he knew that his eyesight wasn’t good enough to become a commercial pilot. Based on his experience as a legal officer, he decided to go to law school, attending Northwestern University in Evanston. And today? Donohue is still practices law, now spending much of his time serving as a mediator. He can also look back at a long and successful career on the defense side of the field. Donohue says that he has no regrets about his winding path to law. He says that his time in the Navy helped develop the skills he needed to build his career. “In the Navy, you dealt with all kinds of people,” he said. “You got used to making some, at times, unpleasant and unpopular deci- sions, much like you have to do as a lawyer. You must manage the people you are working with, including your staff and court person- nel. I learned much about how to do that while in the Navy.” No matter the path that he took to this career, Donohue has earned plenty of praise from his peers. Keith Hebeisen, partner at Chicago’s Clifford Law Offices, said that few Chicago attorneys have built the kind of credibility that Donohue has enjoyed throughout his career. “He doesn’t play games, whether as a defense lawyer or mediator,” Hebeisen said of Donohue. “He has a heart, too. He cares about his clients. He does his best to represent them professionally and ethi- cally. You’d call him a straight arrow. We’ve had some dogfights on our cases. But he has always been an above-the-board professional.” Donohue joined Chicago’s Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth in 1994 as a founding partner. He continued doing his best work, and


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