It was a very practical, practice-driven education. That’s really invaluable for employers.
Ed Dawda, ’77, and Alice Buckley, ’79
MSU College of Law doesn’t just produce great lawyers— sometimes it also produces great lawyer couples.
Ed Dawda and Alice Buckley met as MSU undergrads in the mid-1970s. Both went on to attend Detroit College of Law (now MSU College of Law). Today, Dawda is a founding partner of Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler in Bloomfield Hills; Buckley is assistant general counsel for Sears Holdings Corporation. Both credit DCL for giving them the skills they needed to build flourishing legal careers.
“What stands out for me is that we had an education that was really very practical,” Dawda says of his experience at DCL. “We dealt with problems that lawyers face every day. It was a very practical, practice-driven education. That’s really invaluable for employers.”
Dawda landed a job as a law clerk at a private firm after his first year at DCL and continued there until graduation. He then went to work for Clark, Klein and Beaumont, a large Detroit firm, where he spent 18 years focused on corporate and real estate law and served on the firm’s executive committee.
In 1995, Dawda and a group of colleagues decided to start a small firm that would allow them closer interaction with clients and greater flexibility. Dawda Mann now employs 40 lawyers.
While the firm has won a number of high-profile awards, Dawda says he’s most proud of its recognition by Chambers USA as one of Michigan’s top real estate law firms in 2010. The publication, which ranks firms and attorneys across the country, also gave Dawda its top ranking of “Band 1.” Dawda also was named “Detroit Area Real Estate Lawyer of the Year for 2011” by Best Lawyers.
“I’ve worked over the years with a number of retailers and helped them grow their business, particularly in the Midwest,” Dawda says of what he most enjoys about his work. “It’s quite rewarding.”
As Dawda has moved to the top of his field, Buckley has achieved milestones of her own. She credits her DCL education for preparing her for work in a major retail corporation. “Professor Bradford Stone gave me a very solid base in the Uniform Commercial Code,” she says. “I still have his UCC in a Nutshell book on my desk. It’s 33 years later, and a day doesn’t go by when I’m not in that field.”
In her three decades with Kmart, she helped it navigate through Chapter 11 bankruptcy and successfully litigate Security Services Inc. v. Kmart Corp., a 1994 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court decided 7–2 in the company’s favor.
“It was an exciting day for us,” says Dawda, who joined his wife to watch the oral arguments before the nation’s highest court. “Alice sat right at the counsel bench—it was quite a thrill.”
The couple manages to take time from their demanding careers to support several metro Detroit arts, educational, and charitable organizations, including the College for Creative Studies, the Detroit institute of Arts, and Forgotten Harvest.
“Both of us have been very blessed,” Dawda says. “And we’re very grateful for our education,” Buckley adds. “We really feel like our education has made us.”
A version of this profile originally appeared in the spring 2011 issue of Amicus, published by the MSU College of Law.