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Chris Clay

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Areas of Practice

  • Bequest Management

Christopher J. Clay

Christopher J. Clay, J.D., Ph.D. joined CCK in November of 2020 as Of Counsel. Chris brings a unique skill set and breadth of experience to the Bequest Management team. As General Counsel of a major charity for two decades, Chris supervised the settlement of over 5000 estates involving charitable gifts. For much of his tenure, he also served as the Director of Gift Planning. In that role, he focused heavily, and successfully, on expanding bequest cultivation. Chris’ understanding of the full spectrum of the gift planning life cycle has proven beneficial to CCK’s bequest management clients.

Chris graduated magna cum laude from Fordham University in 1973. He was subsequently awarded a Teaching Fellowship in the Philosophy Department at Fordham, where he earned his M.A. (1977) and Ph.D (cum laude, 1978). He received his J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 1984.

After law school, Chris was recruited to work as an attorney at international law firms including Holland & Knight and Piper & Marbury (now DLA Piper), and developed a special expertise in representing nonprofit organizations. In 1997, he became General Counsel of DAV, a million-member veterans service organization. He held that position for 23 years, simultaneously serving for 12 years as DAV’s Director of Gift Planning. In that role, he took a special interest in enhancing DAV’s already-robust bequest program. During his time at DAV, Chris was responsible for protecting DAV’s interest in the settlement of more than 5,000 estates. Under Chris’s management, the DAV legal department oversaw the administration of matured bequests, including managing outside probate litigation.

Chris has written extensively on both nonprofit and philosophical issues and is a popular speaker on those matters at conferences and universities around the country. He is a student of early radio and film comedy and has written and spoken on those topics as well.

In his downtime, Chris enjoys traveling with his wife and best friend, Maria, and their three children, Erica, Lucas (both human) and Teddy (canine). He also likes to rummage around thrift shops and yard sales in his never-ending quest for rare books, records, and the occasional wind-up Victrola.


  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
  • United States Court of International Trade

Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, Charitable Gift Planners Conference, “Bequest Management: Opportunities for Excellence” October 2021
  • Speaker, Harvard Law School, “What Can Lawyers Do For Veterans?” October 2018
  • Speaker, Harvard Law School, “A Conversation With Christopher Clay,” October 2018
  • Speaker, National Organization of Veterans Advocates Conference, “Dealing with the Modernization of Administrative Law,” October 2017

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council