Speeches

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Bar Admissions Ceremony
May 15, 2017

Good afternoon. I’m Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. Welcome to the bar admissions ceremony. We are pleased that you could join us in the Palace Theater, the second time we have held the ceremony in this beautiful facility.

It is such a wonderful duty of the Chief Justice and justices to participate in a court session that admits you to the bar, thus transforming law students into lawyers.

I am honored to be among the first to offer you congratulations. Not only is this day important to you, it’s important to those who love and care about you. Parents, grandparents, spouses, partners, significant others, children and friends are here with you today … either in this room or in your hearts.

This is a wonderful day for celebration. All of us on the Court have been just where you are … waiting to receive your certificate. A few of us have been in the role of parent celebrating our sons and daughters success on the bar exam. So please believe me when I say to you that we know how you’re feeling and that you have the heartfelt congratulations of the members of the Supreme Court.

I want to offer a few tips as you make your way into our shared profession.

First, relax. Some of you may be anxious because that dream job hasn’t materialized yet. That day may yet come, but in the meantime, use the knowledge, critical thinking skills, and adaptability of a lawyer to excel in your current position. There are numerous fields to work in to make use of your law degree. Expand your viewpoint and seek them out.

Always remember you are entering a profession. As a professional, the people who seek your assistance have the right to demand that you are legally competent, totally professional, and service-oriented. That is what the legal profession is all about – service to our fellow citizens.

Understand that your law degree was an intelligent investment. Whether you go on to practice law in the traditional sense or apply what you learned in law school to any number of fields, you have all the tools necessary for a productive career.

Do not be intimidated. Fight hard for your clients, but fight fair. Stand up for what’s right and ethical and professional and true. Never let your guard down in those areas or the seven of us will see you again in decidedly less celebratory circumstances.

Make time for interests other than work. All work and no play is a well-known saying for a reason. Taking a break from work can result in a breakthrough. Besides, your future self will be a more well-rounded person, and this world can always use more of those kinds of people.

And if you ever feel bewildered, remember that this means you are on the right track because it means you are venturing into the frontier and maybe uncharted territory.

If you keep these guiding principles in mind, the only other thing you will need is the love and support of your family and friends and maybe some pets too.

It is part of the tradition of this session to have a law school dean speak on behalf of all of the deans. Therefore, our first speaker is Capital University Law School Dean Rachel Janutis.

Thank you Dean Janutis. Next we have Ohio State Bar Association President Ron Kopp. Ron.

Thank you Ron. Next up is Robert Morrow, who serves as vice chair of the Board of Bar Examiners. He will make the motion to admit the successful applicants. Bob.

Thank you Bob. We have a motion before the Court. Are there any objections? Hearing none, the motion carries. Now, I have the distinct honor of administering the oath.

To speak on behalf of the Justices, please welcome Justice Pat Fischer.

Thank you Justice Fischer. Now we have come to the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the presentation of certificates.

But before we begin, please keep in mind a few ground rules:

For the attorneys on the main floor, please rise, one row at a time when indicated by the ushers.

Follow the usher’s hand signal to approach the stage. After you have your certificate, please return to your seat using the center stage stairs.

I have just one more reminder before we begin concerning photos.

Please take care of this at the side of the theater only. We need to keep the center as clear as possible. Thank you.

Thank you for coming. That concludes this afternoon’s bar admissions ceremony. But before we close this special session of Court, I want to thank signer Lewis Wright for ensuring everyone could share in the proceedings.

I also have a few housekeeping reminders:

The OSBA will host a reception at the north end of the Grand Concourse in the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center. OSBA staff members will be outside the theater to direct you.

If you are so inclined to visit the Supreme Court, the Moyer Judicial Center is open until 5. Please see your program for directions.

In addition, new lawyers can register with the Office of Attorney Services at the south end of the Grand Concourse after the ceremony.

Information about registering is contained in the white envelope you received.

Please also consider registering for the Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program.

The Supreme Court, to help with the transition from law school to the practice of law, will pair you with a veteran attorney who will serve as your mentor. Following the ceremony, mentoring representatives will be available to answer your questions about the program and explain how to register.

Just look for their table at the south end of the Grand Concourse.

You can sign up online for the mentoring program beginning tomorrow, but you first have to register for active status with the Supreme Court.

Thank you and God bless.