Marilyn McClure-Demers is affectionately called the “general counsel to the world” by her husband. Her friends and professional colleagues’ kids often call her “Aunt Marilyn.”
With the perfect amount of Appalachia charm, McClure-Demers is 120 percent herself. The dozens, if not hundreds, of people she has mentored over the years know the same Marilyn. The fifty-some diverse lawyers and leaders at Nationwide that she has shepherded through extensive leadership development know the same Marilyn. The other leaders of the exhaustive list of nonprofits and networks McClure-Demers serves on outside of her day job know the same Marilyn.
McClure-Demers has a penchant for talented people out there who aren’t sure whether they can get to that next step, whatever it might be. She wants them to know that with some faith and fortitude, they can do just about anything. “If there is something you want to do, go out there and do it,” she advises. “You have to have something to believe in.”
GC to the World
One needs to only look at the last few years, a minor sampling, to get some insight to the lawyer who says resolutely, yet somehow playfully, “I never give up, and no one ever outlasts me.”
Since 2020, McClure-Demers has turned down as many board seats and volunteer service roles as she has accepted—and she has accepted a lot. In 2021, McClure was nominated to the American Red Cross’s Tiffany Circle National Council, an honor she accepted.
McClure-Demers is vice president of corporate litigation and discovery management at Nationwide. She is best known as the go-to problem-solver, strategist, and chief peacemaker, perennially called upon to tackle and lead through the company’s most challenging legal issues. Her colleagues and outside counsel partners know her as a force, and the C-suite considers her a trusted and respected ally.
In 2020, she was also selected to join the board of Lawyers Committee for Civil Right Under Law, an organization formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the civil rights movement. McClure-Demers also joined her alma mater West Virginia University’s alumni association board in 2020, where she created and was the first chair of the board’s diversity, equity, and inclusion committee.
She also serves as a board member for the nonprofit Turning Point Domestic Violence and created a Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) for her local United Way. By sheer will, McClure-Demers along with a handful of founders and WLN members have single-handedly raised over a million dollars with the most recent focus being “treehouse,” a home that provides assistance to eighteen- to twenty-one-year-olds who have aged out of the foster care system and/or are homeless.
If McClure-Demers is anywhere near your orbit, your life has probably been affected by her in some positive way. For those she has mentored, she has provided professional advice, helped select the right outfit for a job interview, given solace and support during challenging times, and pledged to help a colleague begin the process of adopting her brother’s child.
Whatever the moment, tears of joy or tears of sadness, McClure-Demers is there. All she asks for is her mentees to take one thing to heart. “You own your own development, you own your own fulfillment, and you own your own engagement,” she says. “People think they need an earthmover to make a difference. I’ve moved mountains using a teaspoon.”
When it comes to the will of moving mountains, McClure-Demers says her faith is her North Star. In fact, her faith motivated her to grow her presence in justice, diversity, and equity work; mentor lawyers and professionals who are diverse; and partner with organizations that believe in creating societal change for the most vulnerable members of her community.
“I tell lawyers this all time: Be the best lawyer and the best human you can be. You’re in an incredibly noble profession. All lawyers should be leaders in policy and litigation. When you’re the best you can be, the titles will chase you,” she says.
The other side of that coin, however, is that the title should be the least of your worries. Had she waited for a title, the lawyer wouldn’t have successfully partnered Nationwide with the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, and she wouldn’t have worked with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
McClure-Demers is the proof of what being a lawyer can mean. With some imagination, it can mean just about anything. Don’t wait for someone to tell you to grab an opportunity. Don’t wait until you’ve been given the green light to improve your professional or personal life.
This general counsel to the world is moving mountains—and so can you.
“Marilyn McClure-Demers is a community thought leader and convener of talent. Tirelessly, she inspires others to create opportunities for growth and systemic change. She is one of United Way of Delaware County’s most prized advocates.”
—Brandon Feller, President