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Our Legal Team

Brian Darling

Brian handles a variety of trial matters and leads the firm in the areas of criminal and civil trials. As a trial attorney, Mr. Darling has served as lead trial attorney in jury trials, divorce and child custody trials, and represented clients in formal and informal investigations by the State of Ohio and the United States Attorney’s Office.

Brian also has extensive business and real estate transaction experience as former General Counsel for a restaurant franchise group in Northeast Ohio helping the start-up company with corporate formation, franchise development rights, and real estate site selection and development.

Prior to law school, Brian was a management consultant for KPMG and was also the operator of a retail automotive business with over 35 locations in Cleveland and Columbus. As such, Mr. Darling owns a unique perspective as an attorney and former business consultant/operator in offering business owners strategic business and legal advice.

Brian received his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and law degree from Case Western Reserve University. Brian resides in Westlake with his wife and two children.

John Duffy

For 35 years, John J. Duffy has been working with clients in the areas of real estate, estate planning, probate, and business transactions.

John recieved his law degree from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and his master’s degree from John Carroll University. John is a former professor of real estate law at Cuyahoga County Community College. He is a proud alumnus of St. Edward High School, a member of the St. Edward “Legal Eagles”, and the co-founder and director of Classroom of Champions, an academic team competition for elementary school students.

 Together with his wife Sheila, John has three children and four grandchildren. He is active in his church and enjoys reading history and literature.

Robert Secrist

Robert V. Secrist, Jr., (“Bob”), joined Darling / Duffy Legal Services after a distinguished career serving in the legal departments of the Cleveland Trust Company, University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic, collectively spanning 39 years commencing upon his graduation from The Ohio State University College of Law in 1972. 

 After an early career as a litigator, Bob Secrist became counsel to the Law Department of Cleveland Trust / Ameritrust before joining University Hospitals Law Department in 1992. Over the next 19 years, he served 12 years for University Hospitals and 7 years for the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, where he was a major factor in reshaping the healthcare industry and the Cleveland landscape in particular.  With countless purchases, development agreements, construction contracts of all types, master leases, easements, EPA studies and cleanups, and Board of Tax Appeals and Board of Revision hearings accomplished, Bob was the lead counsel to the acquisition, construction and management of many millions of square feet of highly technical and state of the art real estate. 

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 Bob has been involved in the sale and acquisition of numerous private doctor and medical practices, helping lead the development of the majority of UH’s and the Clinic’s medical practices and facilities in Cleveland, the surrounding region and even the Clinic’s Florida locations.  

 Having participated in numerous Board of Revision and Board of Tax Appeals hearings, Bob has been at the forefront of real estate taxation and exemption of large nonprofits such as health care institutions. Bob has been a party to creative structured settlements with local school boards and the state with respect to these issues.

 Bob formerly served on the Planning Commission of the City of Bay Village, including as its Chairman, served as a trustee of his church for many years, worked for years as a volunteer on the Gateway Project, has served as a board member of BOMA of Greater Cleveland, and has continued to serve as President of the Winton Place Condominium Association (a 600,000 S.F., 31 story high rise with 350 homes) for multiple terms, to name some of his community efforts. 

Michelle Yanok

Michelle was born and raised in the Cleveland area and graduated from North Olmsted High School. She received her B.A. from Case Western Reserve University in 1998 and is a 2001 graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Law. She does transactional work and litigation in a wide variety of areas, including divorce, real estate valuation, personal injury, and business litigation.  She has successfully represented individuals, local businesses, and local school boards before administrative boards, the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals, courts of common pleas and appeals, and the Supreme Court of Ohio. Michelle lives in Fairview Park with her husband.