Every Friday after work, Mary Foster would kiss her husband, daughter, and two boys goodbye, then drive five and a half hours from Cincinnati to Lansing, Michigan to attend a weekend law school. She went to class on Saturday and Sunday, then drove another five and a half hours back to Cincinnati Sunday night before work Monday morning. Back then, her inspirational audiobooks were on cassette tapes. She had stacks of them to occupy her mind on the drives. She did this for three and a half years, and graduated in the top seven percent of her law class.
“We’re stronger than we think we are,” Mary said with a calm certainty.
During law school, Mary was a full time social worker. When she wasn’t at work, the week was dedicated to her family. No studying. No reading. No research. The only books she opened were cookbooks or schoolbooks for her children. Only the weekend was for law school.
Mary laughs a little when she thinks about how her classmates would panic and literally pass out around exam times. It’s funny because Mary didn’t have the time or the luxury to be anxious. She just went with the flow, and it paid off for her. Even with such limited study time, Mary was able to pull off high marks and even earn a scholarship.
According to Mary, she was simply following God’s plan. It was this faithful knowledge that gave Mary the strength to burden the long distance and effort. The hardest part for her besides missing her family was missing Church on Sundays. She made up for that on those car rides, having long conversations with God about how she just needs to stay the course.
During her final year of law school, Mary got a surprise. Well, two surprises, actually — twin girls — as if things weren’t challenging enough. The doctors had previously told Mary that due to a medical condition, future children would be impossible, but there they were on the sonogram; two new mouths to feed and two late enrollments to law school.
“God has a wonderful sense of humor. If you ever want to see God laugh, just tell him what your plans are,” Mary said.
The unexpected pregnancy put Mary on bed rest prior to graduation, which means she couldn’t attend the ceremony. She said it was ironic. Three and half years of driving and studying, and her diploma had to be sent to her through the mail. Mary will be the first to tell you that she wouldn’t have changed a thing, though. She says, “The things you go through make you who you are today.”
After Mary’s mailbox graduation ceremony, she waited two years to take the Bar Exam. She had five children to raise, two of which were infants, and a job. She couldn’t afford to rush into it. But once things stabilized at home, she signed up for the bar, and after only two weeks of studying after work, she passed it. Mary was 41 years old.
It’s never too late. Mary can attest to that. In fact, not rushing into things really has its advantages, according to Mary. “I saw things early in my law career that, if I were younger, would have jaded me, or made me want to quit.” She said her age and maturity made things more realistic. Instead of thinking her job was to change the world, she focused on smaller battles, like the needs of her individual clients on a case by case basis.
“You can’t have this God complex where you think you can control everything because then you just end up taking everything personally. You can affect change, but not everything is under your control.”
These wiser, more grounded expectations helped Mary become the kind of attorney who took the cases nobody else would take. She likes the challenge of thinking outside the box and trying to find a way to help people, and says she will fit in very nicely at Graydon.
“I think the people here are passionate about what they do. They are actually good people who love their community and believe in giving great quality service. I couldn’t be in a better place.”
It was a long journey, but Mary made it. Eleven hours of driving every weekend for three and a half years earned her an elevator ride in the Scripps Center 18 stories up into the sky. The conversations with God may be a little shorter, but in some sense, she’s a little closer to Him, and that is a place where Mary wants to be.
Mary is a member of the Labor & Employment Practice Group, where her practices focuses on Compliance, EEOC defense and litigation. In addition, Mary has experience with operational analysis, organizational restructuring, strategic planning, compliance monitoring, policy and procedure evaluation and training in the areas of diversity, safety, conflict resolution, quality assurance and performance accountability. Mary is experienced in handling discipline and discharge issues, evaluating EEOC complaints, reviewing wage and hour practices, developing departmental policies and procedures as well as providing preventative and day-to-day consulting on a wide range of labor and employment matters.
Prior to joining Graydon, Mary operated Trinity Law, LLC, and Foster Law, LLC. These were full-service, private-practice firms where she provided extensive legal services including, but not limited to, State and Federal Criminal Defense, Landlord Tenant Disputes, OCSPA Violations, Civil Rights, Racial and Disability Discrimination, Personal Injury, Family Law, and Contract matters. Mary has taken on such roles as in house counsel for Business Technical Services, LLC, a Pipeline Integrity Management Company, Civil Division Manager for Columbus based Law Firm, Byron L. Potts and Associates, and Assistant Public Defender for Clinton County to name a few.
Mary earned her JD from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan where she graduated cum laude and her BA with Honors in Philosophy from the University of Cincinnati. Mary believes in giving back and actively engages in service to her community through private mentoring and counseling, providing legal education seminars to community organizations and churches, and lending an occasional shoulder to cry on when needed.
Mary is currently on the Board of Advisors for Dr. JW Jones Center (FTCAID), a nonprofit organization that provides a wealth of social services, including faith-based counseling, trade training, work force development, veteran and various youth services. As well Mary is on the Board of Directors for The Urban Art Center of Greater Cincinnati, Inc. a newly formed nonprofit organization that seeks to provide a safe and centralized space for aspiring artists to have access to state of the art equipment, education, support and overall artist development, as well as provide artists with assistance with promoting and exposure to showcase their personal expression of art.
Mary enjoys spending quality time with her family playing cards, experimenting with new recipes, discussing the latest conspiracy theories and binge watching the latest and greatest series