It’s okay to tell a lawyer joke around Michael Elliott, Esq. ’71. He doesn’t take offense and even finds some of them amusing. Legal counsel for Gilmour Academy, Elliott is a partner with Tucker Ellis &West, which specializes in legal matters related to business, corporate finance, and commercial law. After graduating from Kenyon College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, he did a two-year stint at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, driving the tour train, and working in the pachyderm building taking care of elephants, rhinos, hippos, and giraffes. “I got tired of working as a zookeeper, so I decided to become an attorney,” he says wryly. “But the animals were much more obedient than my clients; they
After earning his juris doctorate from Case Western Reserve University, Elliott was hired for his first professional job at Roudebush Brown & Ulrich by fellow alum Bob Tomaro ’67, Gilmour’s legal counsel and vice chairman of its board for 25 years. The two worked together at several Cleveland law firms for 26 years. Upon Mr. Tomaro’s death in 2006, Elliott asked Tim Holzheimer ’61 if there was anything he could do to help Gilmour. His reply was, “Find me another Bob Tomaro.” Elliott is now secretary of Gilmour Academy, Inc., a trustee, and a member of the Executive Committee. “Bob’s shoes are almost impossible to fill,” he says. “It is a daunting task in many ways.”
Still, Mike Elliott has his own strong ties to the Academy. “I learned how to learn at Gilmour,” he recalls. “I learned to listen and analyze, problem-solve, and discipline myself to study.” Other life lessons from his days at Gilmour have taken root. “You treat people with respect and you guard your integrity,” he says. “And Gilmour gave me the best friendships I ever had,” he notes, adding that he regularly plays golf with former classmates.
Being an attorney can be challenging, Elliott admits, saying, “It is easy to lose sight of the here and now and to get wrapped up in what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow.”
His daughters Kelly and Ann keep him on track, though, and the attorney is most proud of being a good father. Formerly an elementary school teacher in Arizona, Kelly is now a paralegal at Tucker Ellis &West and works with her Dad. Ann is an assistant lacrosse coach at Northwestern University, where she won three NCAA Women’s Lacrosse championships as a player. “They are very special young women who are light years ahead of where I was at their age,” he says.
Elliott enjoys playing golf and is an avid fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Browns, and the Indians. He volunteers for recovery programs at alcohol and drug treatment facilities and chaired the Cleveland Bar Association’s Lawyer’s Assistance Committee from 2003-2006. He also is a member of the American, Ohio State, and Florida bar associations and is a frequent speaker for Continuing Legal Education.