Kelly E. O'Donnell, JCD

Canon Lawyer


Canon Lawyer

Kelly O'Donnell, JCD,  is a practicing canon lawyer with thirty-five years of experience. As a canon lawyer, who belongs to various canon law societies, Dr. O'Donnell practices canon law around the world. She serves members of the Catholic Church and organizations affiliated with the Catholic Church with professionalism, expertise, and complete confidentiality. She represents dioceses, parishes, clergy, religious, laity, and all those who need advice, assistance, information, and representation from an expert in Catholic Church law.

Expert Witness

If you are in need of a canon lawyer, Dr. O’Donnell is available as an expert witness for attorneys. She is a member of the Canon Law Society of America (CLSA), the Canadian Canon Law Society (CCLS), and the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland (GLSGBI). She speaks fluent Spanish and Italian and has experience and expertise in several areas of canon law practice:

  • defending the rights of clergy, religious, and laity
  • the annulment process
  • parish closing issues
  • penal process and oral contentious trials
  • administrative procedures and processes

Guest Speaker

Kelly O'Donnell is a frequent guest lecturer on juridical and moral issues related to ecclesiastical and civil concerns. In 2013, she visited Chapman University's School of Law and spoke about "Canon Law and its Intersection with Secular Law." Dr. O'Donnell is available to give presentations regarding topics in Canon Law to universities, groups, and conferences.

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom


Kelly O'Donnell, JCD, has served as a Tribunal Director.  Up until February 2016,  Dr. O'Donnell held the position of Judge for the Fresno Diocesan Tribunal. She continues to participate as a Court Expert for ecclesiastical matters in civil courts.

Community Involvement

In addition to sharing her legal knowledge and expertise with those who need it, Dr. O'Donnell believes in taking the time to give back to the community. In 2017, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul received a $50,000.00 grant from the Dignity Health Foundation in California to feed the homeless. The entire award amount was specified for food only. Kelly wrote the grant for the organization.

Since 2017, Dr. O’Donnell has received approximately half a million dollars in grant funds to feed the homeless at St. Vincent de Paul. She continues to write grants in order to continue serving the disadvantaged of the community.


Dr. O'Donnell's canon law teaching experience began in 1983. She has been an adjunct professor at Bakersfield College and a lecturer at California State University in Bakersfield and The Diocesan Institute in San Diego. From 2011 until 2022, Dr. O'Donnell taught as an adjunct and Senior Adjunct professor in the MBA Financial Planning program at California Lutheran University.


Comprehensive Business Law, Revised First Edition by Michael Bootsma, Michael Thieme, Charles Damschen, Sophia Harvey, and Craig Nierman, in preparation for a second edition, peer review editor, 2016.

A Tale of Two Tribunals:  Management Then and Now, CLSA Proceedings, 77, 2015.  Co-authored with Rev. Anthony Bawyn, JCD. Published in 2016.

Business Law:  Text and Cases-Legal, Ethical, Global and Corporate Environment, 2014, 13th edition.  Mentioned as a contributor.