Earlier this spring, Liff, Walsh & Simmons named Jon McGowan a firm partner. His story of rising from paralegal to partner caught the eye of a local publication, Living in the Triangle, which features families in the Crofton area. In June 2022, Jon and his family were featured in the magazine, giving more background to the story behind the partner.
Excerpts of the article are shared below, with permission from Living In the Triangle.
Jon said he was an Air Force brat — he was born at what was then Andrews Air Force Base (now Joint Base Andrews). His family lived in Crofton when he was very young but moved to Rapid City, South Dakota when he was six. They returned to this area in time for Jon and his older siblings to all graduate from Arundel High School.
“My parents’ names are Larry and Jeannette McGowan. They grew up in Baltimore County, and they currently live in Crofton Downs off Reidel Road, which is the home where I grew up. I have three older siblings who all went to Arundel High School: Brad (’99), Jenn (’01), and Dave (’04). I graduated in 2007. All of us were active in the school with extracurriculars mainly sports (football, lacrosse, soccer, and baseball). I played soccer all four years of high school.”
Jon said both he and his sister Jenn were interested in law from an early age. They watched Law & Order on television and movies such as A Few Good Men. His sister Jenn was a paralegal for a Circuit Court judge in Lynchburg, Virginia, and enjoyed it, which solidified Jon’s desire to be a lawyer. “I had a fascination with the courtroom, which is ironic because now I work almost exclusively in transactional law and hardly spend any time in court.”
Jon started with the firm as a paralegal and receptionist, “doing everything from answering phones to making daily trips to the bank.” The firm was called Mandel, Liff & Walsh, LLP at the time (Yes, it was former Governor Marvin Mandel). Its primary focus was residential real estate, along with its affiliated title company, Eagle Title. He maintained ties with the firm while attending law school full time.
“By the time I graduated in 2016, the firm had developed into a multi-practice law firm, and there was the opportunity to continue my career there as an attorney.”
Jon’s wife, Kelsi, grew up in Bowie as one of nine children. Her parents, Bruce and Karen Miller, have since moved to Chapman Farm in Crofton. Jon and Kelsi met as children through mutual friends but didn’t start dating until they were both in college. Jon began his college education at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC). Kelsi went to AACC’s nursing program for RN training and later earned a BSN from Frostburg University. They got married soon after graduation in 2011 and, Jon says, “haven’t looked back since.”
Jon and Kelsi had their first two children while Jon was still attending law school. Jon said he and Kelsi are grateful for the help from both sets of grandparents at this time! Their son Hudson (8) and daughter Kennedy (7) both attend Crofton Woods Elementary School. They both love school, and Kennedy particularly enjoys playing soccer at Bell Branch Park.
“Our third child, Brendon (3), is enjoying his last few months of attention from Mom at home while his older siblings are at school before starting preschool next year. Finally, Kelsi and I had Etta (1) in the fall of 2021. She’s small, but she’s developing a lot of sass as she establishes her place amongst her siblings.”
Kelsi McGowan is an RN working in the Emergency Departments at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center and Calvert Memorial Hospital. She’s worked at those hospitals for nearly ten years. She mostly works the night shift.
Jon’s biography on the law firm’s website notes that he graduated from Liberty University cum laude in government with a focus on Western Legal Traditions. It also says he was in the top 6 percent of his University of Baltimore Law School class and was in the “Royal Shannonhouse Honor Society.” The society refers not to Irish aristocracy but is named after Royal Graham Shannonhouse III, a beloved professor at the UB law school. Jon said while it was challenging for both his wife and him to be new parents in his first two years of law school, it also grounded him. “I’ll always look back on law school as one of the most rewarding times in my life. UB’s Law School professors and staff are really engaged with their students and committed to preparing them for a career in the legal profession here in Maryland.”
For several years, Jon served on the Board of Bethany Christian Services and volunteered coaching boys’ soccer at Arundel High. He says the most consistent thing for his family has been their involvement with the Lighthouse Church in Glen Burnie. “Kelsi and I started going there soon after our marriage and have found a home and a unique and special community.”
He’s also a member of both the Maryland and Anne Arundel County Bar Associations, the AA County Estate Planning Council, the Crofton Chamber of Commerce, and a board member of the Annapolis Bourbon Club. He said he spent a few years with the club, which hosted quarterly tasting events, with each one benefitting a different local charity.
When Jon is not enjoying his beautiful family and serving in his community, he is a member of the Business Law, Estates & Trusts, Real Estate, and Commercial Finance practice groups. His business practice focuses on assisting clients in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and securities, and general corporate matters. He counsels individuals and families to help develop custom estate plans and business succession plans that address the client’s specific needs in order to help protect and impart their legacy. His real estate and finance practices touch on areas of acquisition, development, leasing, and lending in the representation of buyers, sellers, and private and commercial lenders. Jon also serves as Counsel to the firm’s affiliated title company, Eagle Title, and is a member of the 2022-23 Flagship program of Leadership Anne Arundel.