Monica Donath Kohnen accepted an invitation from her two daughters to climb the Grand Teton in the summer of 2008. The route is precipitous, and the 13,700-foot summit towers above the clouds on most days. It’s not a climb for tourists.
“I don’t think I’ve been so mentally and physically challenged for such an extended period in my life. All day, every second, you have to watch what you’re doing. At one point, I was belaying both my kids. I’d gotten myself to a little ledge, I had a line, and my kids are coming up behind me. If they were to fall, I was it.
“I don’t think I’ve ever gripped anything so tightly in my life as I was holding onto that line. I wasn’t expecting anything like that when I signed up.”
The story offers a few insights into Monica. She’s not afraid of a challenge, and she’s not afraid to compete. “Competitive, in a good way” is how she describes herself.
She grew up in a neighborhood that was full of kids who stayed busy playing baseball and football, climbing trees and riding bikes. It was boys, mostly, but she said the girls held their own.
“The idea of driving yourself – whether you’re trying to climb the highest tree or do that three-mile morning run a few seconds faster – is what compels me. For me, it’s more internal. Not to say I don’t think it’s good to get a team fired up to get something done. What I mean is, somebody’s going to win, and I’d rather be that person.”
Tennis was her sport. As a teen, she was ranked at the City, Ohio Valley and Western Regional levels. At Duke, she joined the team as a walk-on. These days, she regards herself as a respectable squash player. So do those who have to play against her.
“I played against all types of people, had an opportunity to observe them and had to make corresponding adjustments in strategy to fit the game. That’s helped me in the law practice. As a player, I was described as tenacious and cool headed – no racquet throwing or other antics were allowed in my family.”
At Graydon, Monica has a real estate, business and banking practice. She enjoys the problem-solving part of her work, matching solutions to the client’s goals, whether clients tend to be aggressive, try creative approaches or just want to get the deal done.
Confident, she says – but in a good way. Level-headed, even-tempered, but not the least bit afraid to mix it up. Her colleagues say she’ll surprise you. Sitting across the table from her in a negotiation, the picture you get might be summed up like this: Proper, well-mannered, non-threatening.
Oh, this won’t be hard, you might think to yourself. But once the game begins, beware the ace.
Monica practices in the areas of banking, business, construction and real estate law. She counsels clients in the acquisition, sale, development, leasing, exchanges, construction, tax valuation, zoning and financing of industrial, commercial and residential properties including, but not limited to, manufacturing plants, offices, distribution sites, telecommunication facilities, restaurants, parks, residential subdivisions and farms. She also assists clients in obtaining grants, low interest loans and tax abatements from economic incentive programs offered by local and state governments. She assists business clients with strategy, process and review of contracts and counsels clients in mergers and acquisitions, buy-sell agreements and employment agreements. Monica also advises the Firm's banking and financial services clients with respect to loan transactions and business strategy and she provides both real estate and business counsel in connection with a variety of litigation matters. Monica has been selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for her work in Banking and Finance Law, Corporate Law and Real Estate Law from 2007 to 2018; and recognized as an Ohio Super Lawyer in 2021. She has also been a Cincinnati Leading Lawyer from 2007-2018 and recognized with an AV Peer Review Rating, the highest rating given to lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell. The Ohio State Bar Association also recognizes Monica as a Certified Specialist in Business, Commercial and Industrial Real Property Law.
Leadership : Firm & Community
Monica has served in multiple leadership positions within the firm, serving as a Member of the Firm’s Executive Committee, Chair of the Commercial Real Estate Industry Group, and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Banking and Financial Services Industry Group. She is the founder and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Women’s Professional Development Group. Community leadership roles include service on the Boards of The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Cincinnati Sight Restoration Foundation Inc., Downtown Cincinnati Inc, The Junior League of Cincinnati, Ursuline Academy, and The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.