Tracey Holmes Donesky says her life changed forever when she was 6.
No, that isn’t when she decided to become a lawyer: “That’s when my dad first handed me a cut-down seven iron,” she recalls. It began her lifelong love affair with golf.
As a teenager, Donesky says she learned discipline from the game, which took her to competitions across the United States and her native Canada. Later, on a golf scholarship at the University of Kentucky, the game taught her how to multitask. “It taught me how to juggle so many things at once, which is really important now that I’m in the legal profession,” she says.
“I look back at those four years and sometimes wonder how I did it. It did teach me how to plan my time — although I couldn’t live without my Treo these days,” she says with a laugh.
Now a shareholder with Leonard, Street and Deinard in Minneapolis, Donesky was a key player of her firm’s litigation team in its recent high-profile representation of the Pioneer Press in its lawsuit alleging misappropriation of trade secrets against the paper’s former publisher, Par Ridder.
Donesky was one of about a dozen lawyers who gathered more than 45,000 electronic records on an expedited schedule. She and others participated in 64 depositions in a little over a month’s time. Discovery that normally would’ve taken a year was condensed into 37 days.
What made that time so exciting was the collaboration among her colleagues, Donesky says. For example, evidence taken by one attorney at a morning deposition became part of the questioning in another lawyer’s afternoon deposition.
Following a three-day evidentiary hearing in June, a District Court judge on Sept. 18 restrained Ridder from employment at the Star Tribune for one year and ordered the Minneapolis paper to pay the Pioneer Press’ legal fees — a sum of $3.8 million.
It wasn’t her first fast-paced litigation victory. During a one-month stretch in 2006, Donesky was part of a legal team that successfully obtained a favorable federal court decision for a financial-services client on the enforcement of a noncompete agreement, and secured a temporary restraining order for a health-care client on misappropriation and breach of duty of loyalty claims.
In her nonbillable time, Donesky serves on her firm’s business development and recruiting committees, mostly assisting with its summer associate program. She also volunteers with the firm’s legal clinic in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, helping people on disability and immigration cases.
The latter area is especially meaningful, Donesky notes, having obtained U.S. citizenship herself only a few years ago. And immigration law is an area of concentration for her husband, Finlay, who is also an attorney from Canada.
With two small children, golf plays a lesser role in Donesky’s life. Still, she says there’s nothing she enjoys more than a morning at the driving range with the family.