It was through Litopia Writer’s Colony that Donna met Lynn Price, editor of Behler Publications. Lynn loved Donna’s fiction but Behler doesn’t publish children’s books. When Lynn heard that Donna was a lawyer, Lynn told Donna that she loved Donna’s writing, and that she wanted a “real writer” to do the book. How could anyone say no to someone who had called her a real writer? Donna’s book, The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom: Let’s Quill All the Lawyers, has been released by Behler Publications as part of their award-winning “Get it Write” series. She not only met her deadlines, but turned her manuscript and edits in early, much to the shock of her editor, who wasn’t used to such outrageous behavior from writers.
Donna founded her employment law practice, Donna M. Ballman, P.A in 1990. She focused her writing on nonfiction for a number of years, publishing numerous articles on issues such as discrimination, sexual harassment, and employment law.
Her cases have been anything but dull. The then-mayor of Miami once accused her of trying to turn JoseMartiPark into MartinLutherKingPark after she forced them to elect their commission members using districts so they would have black representation. She once set a drug dealer’s wife’s deposition back to back with his mistress’s in order to collect on a big judgment. She sued a mobster for sexual harassment. The client swears her husband got the Gambino family’s permission before they filed the lawsuit, but Donna has no way to verify this.
Donna met her husband in politics. Donna represented Bill Clinton as his Florida General Counsel for his first presidential campaign. When he was sued personally, she defended him, although she says the case lasted about ten minutes. During the campaign, she got to spend a day riding around with Hillary Clinton. She introduced Hillary to Marjory Stoneman Douglas (also a Wellesley alum), and was present when Hillary met Janet Reno.
Her husband and she spent two nights at the White House when Marjory Stoneman Douglas received the Medal of Freedom. While there she also got to sit with Marjory and watch the signing of the Brady Bill and talk to 101-year-old Marjory about bees.
Having the attitude that, if you have a minute with the most powerful man in the world, you ought to ask him for something, Donna convinced then-President Clinton to free the children in Guantanamo when it was being used as an immigration facility. Donna knew the President was releasing them when she got a letter telling her so. He apparently hadn’t told the State Department yet, so they were a bit surprised.
She has been named a Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiffs' Lawyers in America, 2007; in 2000 as a member of Leading Florida Attorneys, voted by members of the Florida Bar; named a Top South Florida Attorney in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 by South Florida Legal Guide, featured on Sky Radio Network on the Forbes “America’s Most Influential Women” program, Lifetime Television Network's 1996 special, "Full Disclosure: Sexual Harassment," and Bulgarian TV Co-Op’s program: “Women in America: Atlanta/Miami.” She’s been interviewed about her cases and legal issues by numerous media, from radio and television news to newspapers including the Wall Street Journal.
She has taught numerous seminars and has served on the Editorial Advisory Board for James Publishing, a legal publishing company.
Back to fiction
The birth of Donna’s two daughters led her to return to the writing she loves most – fiction. She penned picture books for the girls, then joined SCBWI to learn the craft of writing for children. Her story The Year Santa Shaved was a finalist in the South Florida Writer’s Guild children’s story competition in 2006. She took that tiny bit of encouragement and took workshops through Writer’s Online Workshops, SCBWI, and MediaBistro. She began to write middle grade and young adult novels. And she joined Litopia, an online writer’s colony.
As an employment lawyer in weird, wonderful, multicultural South Florida, Donna Ballman has had many unusual and quirky experiences, but none have made a better cocktail story than when a guy she sued for sexual harassment of his employee put a voodoo curse on her, and then another client’s Santeria priest offered her the antidote. That true story led her to write Cursed, her middle grade novel that highlights what happens when voodoo meets Santeria meets a suburban middle school girl. She hopes it will one day appear on these pages.
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