Stark County attorney Beverly Proctor-Donald believes she’s just hitting her stride.
After years of putting her family’s needs ahead of her career, Proctor-Donald now has more time to dedicate to her downtown Canton law practice.
The Memphis, Tennessee, native, who moved to Stark County with her husband, Daryl, in 1991, started her practice in 2001 with her 2-year-old son in tow. She had been working as a claims adjuster at Nationwide Insurance but decided to not go back after D.J. was born in 1999.
Instead, she teamed up with a friend who also was an attorney and new mother.
“We decided to open our own firm where we could bring our babies to work,” she said.
Proctor-Donald, who went solo in 2005, found her niche in family law, helping people navigate through the stress of divorce, separation agreements, shared parenting plans, child support and many other areas related to children.
“I have a heart for kids, especially when it comes to custody cases where they are in a difficult, unfortunate situation and they need a better shake,” said Proctor-Donald, who also handles personal injury, wills, estates and civil litigation for clients in Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas and Carroll counties. “If someone can take better care of them and love them and be successful with them, my heart goes out for those kids.”
Proctor-Donald said another motivating factor that fuels her business is father’s rights.
“I grew up surrounded by strong men who were great providers and nurturing fathers,” said Proctor-Donald, whose father served 20 years in the U.S. Navy and 10 years in the U.S. Army. “In my practice, I have encountered a lot of men who desire to be that to their children, and it warms my heart to see the love and dedication so many dads out there have for their children. Dads are equally as important to children as moms, and when they step up and wish to assert their right to be a positive influence and actively involved in the lives of children, it is one of the best rewards of my work to help them to do so.”
Helping people is why Proctor-Donald, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis in 1990 and her law degree from the University of Akron in 1996, pursued a career in law.
“The city in Memphis is a majority-minority city; it’s probably 60% African American,” said Proctor-Donald, who is one of seven children. “A lot of people seemed to need help, and I thought (law) would be a way to help people and make a difference that way.”
When D.J. graduated from GlenOak High School in 2017, Proctor-Donald began taking on more clients.
“My focus was changing, and I was making more time in that area,” she said. “I was transitioning to be an empty nester.”
Her business got another boost from the coronavirus pandemic. At the beginning, many clients were seeking help with estate planning. Then, she saw more clients seeking help with divorces, dissolutions and custody battles.
And now, with D.J. ready to graduate from Ohio University in the spring, Proctor-Donald has begun allowing herself to think about even bigger career goals.
“I think now I’m really just blossoming and growing into a place where I can begin to envision something bigger and better,” she said.