They had their first date on New Year’s Eve and both admit that after that they were inseparable. They married a year later. Mark and Ellen have been married for 31 years and have three children: Joshua, Rebecca, and Rachel.
After law school, Mark started at Bondy & Schloss, where he was one of four associates, three of whom had no interest in litigation. He became the firm’s go-to litigation lawyer and made partner in 1986. In June 2005, the firm consolidated with Hodgson Russ. Mark is now the practice group leader for business litigation in the New York City office, where his docket includes employment dis¬crimination cases, securities, and general business litigation, with a specialty in an esoteric area of law, transfer agent issues.
The Harmons: (clockwise from top left) Ellen, Rachel, Joshua, Rebecca, and Mark
Ellen began her career as an associate at Kronish Leib and moved in-house after five years. Today she is Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and Secretary for ATMI, Inc., a publicly held global semiconductor business in Danbury, Connecticut. “Over 25 years, I’ve worked at five different public companies and at three of them (plus one privately-held company) I served as general counsel with a very diversified practice,” she said. Raising three children never thwarted her career plans. She took eight weeks maternity leave for each child and then returned to work full time. “Back then, in the 1840s when my career was taking off,” joked Ellen, “you either committed to your career full steam or not. If you took off a few years you were out of the mainstream track. I felt that I was a better wife, mother, and role model because I had outside intellectual and professional stimulation to bring to those other roles.”
While many years have passed since the Harmons graduated from BLS, they still recall their time in law school with fondness. “I know this sounds hokey, but I really enjoyed the entire law school experience,” said Mark. “We had some sen¬sational teachers who we still talk about to this day: Margaret Berger, Jerry Leitner, Joseph Crea, George Johnson, and Henry Holzer.”
The couple continues to maintain strong ties to Brooklyn Law School. Mark returns regularly to serve as a judge for the Dean Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Moot Court Competition. They also sponsor the Leonard Taubenblatt ’50 Ethics Award, which is awarded at graduation by the faculty to a student who has demonstrated the highest standard of ethics. The couple established the award as a gift to Ellen’s father Leonard for his 75th birthday.
“Looking back, what I loved about Brooklyn Law School was that it provided such a valuable balance among academics, clinical work, clerkships, and Law Review, which occupied a lot of time but was an extraordinary learning process,” said Ellen. “When you add up all those experiences, the Law School was about a lot more than just sitting in class and taking notes and studying for exams.”
James O'Donnell ’88 and Amy C. Reich ’88
It is often said that a lifetime of experiences can hinge on one decision. For Jim O’Donnell, that decision was to go to Brooklyn Law School. “Professor Crea called me, and we talked for a while about the Law School and after a while he said, ‘Well son, do you want to come to BLS?’ And I said, ‘Yes sir. I do.’ That was one of the very best moves that I made in my life. Everything that I have in my life—and I have been very fortunate—is because I came to Brooklyn Law School, and because I met Amy.”
Professor Crea, who just celebrated his 95th birthday, was also instrumental in bringing Jim and Amy together. It was in his Commercial Paper class that the two first met. “She was the most beautiful girl in the school, and the smartest,” said Jim. “But in the two classes we took together, I got a higher grade,” he added. “He distracted me,” she joked.