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Meet Scientist Turned Environmental Law Attorney Scott Doran ’86

Scott Doran '86Scott Doran did not initially plan on becoming a lawyer. In fact, after graduating from Miami University with a degree in zoology in 1979, his goal was to become a scientist. He joined the United States Environmental Protection Agency, working in a toxicology lab and earning a masters degree along the way.  However, he eventually decided that a career change was in order and enrolled in UC Law. His new goal: practice environmental law.

The Genesis of Environmental Law

In the early 1980’s, the Love Canal, a Niagara Falls neighborhood that gained international notoriety when it was discovered that 21,000 tons of hazardous was buried beneath the neighborhood,  and other environmental issues were significant news stories. Environmental law was just beginning to develop as a practice area. The call for environmental regulations was pushed to the forefront of national attention, and the need for environmental lawyers was substantial.  At the time, however, UC Law had only one environmental law course.  Thus as with many areas of law, training would come on the job. 

Following his second year of law school, Doran clerked at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, a firm that offered a small but growing environmental law practice.  Doran joined the firm after his third year, and he remained there for 20 years.  “ It was a great firm in which to be part of an active and growing environmental, energy and natural resource law practice area and to be involved in a wide variety of issues,” said Doran. His practice included aspects of litigation, corporate transactions, permitting and enforcement. 

One notable experience has been his involvement with the Ohio Wetlands Foundation, one of the first private wetland mitigation banks in the country.  In an effort protect Ohio’s remaining wetland resources, current policy in Ohio requires that if you fill wetlands, you have to replace them somewhere else.  Wetland mitigation banks restore historical wetlands and then sell credits to public and private entities which have received a permit to build on existing wetlands.  Doran said that to date close to 2,000 acres of wetlands have been restored as a result of these efforts.

Career Move Is Chance to Head Practice

In May 2009, and in an example of what he referred to as the fluidity of the legal field, Doran made a significant career move and joined the Columbus, Ohio  firm of Chester, Willcox & Saxbe LLP to head-up their environmental practice. The firm offered a great opportunity to work with both his existing clients and those of the Chester firm.   “The change has been wonderful,” he said,“and while I very much enjoyed all of my years at Vorys, I appreciate the opportunity to work with the very talented attorneys at the Chester firm and to learn about and assist the firm’s clients.”

Law is in the Family

Doran’s wife, Anita, is also a UC Law alumnae, graduating in 1987. They are the parents of two children—a a sophomore in high school and a college freshman, and will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary this year.  In his free time Doran enjoys traveling and trying to stay out of the office.  He also said that he has managed to remain in contact with many of his classmates from UC Law, particularly those whose fortunes took them to Columbus as well.

By: Lindsay Mather ‘11