Speeches

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on Professionalism 25th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon
Sept. 12, 2017

Thank you, Mark (Commission Chairman Petrucci) and good afternoon, everyone.

Thank you for the opportunity to address you at this milestone event. I have a few things to say and then I will turn it back over to Mark, who will recognize our nine (9)-term and ten (10)-term mentors.

I want to thank all the current and former commission members who have joined us here.

And I want to acknowledge my fellow justices – Sharon Kennedy, Bill O’Neill, and Pat DeWine – as well as Judith French, who couldn’t be with us today

Two of my colleagues on the Court receive a special call-out today:

Justice Pat Fischer, who is one of our honorees for being a nine-term mentor.

And Justice Terrence O’Donnell, who not only served on this commission but who has tirelessly supported its work – and has been deeply involved in the Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program. If I had to use a sports metaphor to describe Terry’s involvement I would call him a successful player-coach when it comes to mentoring.

The accomplishments of the Supreme Court’s Commission on Professionalism are remarkable, and it’s a pleasure for me to recite some of them.

Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring is a great place to start. 

It began in 2006 as a pilot and became a permanent program in 2008 – pairing experienced lawyers with newly minted attorneys for a one-year relationship. The mentor’s knowledge is supplemented with a prepared curriculum.

Since its inception, nearly 6,000 Ohio lawyers have taken part and graduated from the program….  Six-thousand !

Today, more than one hundred (100) “mentees” are now mentors themselves.

Twenty-nine (29) mentors have been serving the program all along.

And now the curriculum has expanded into an area dear to me – pro bono service.

The mentoring extends into “Courthouse Connections,” which gives young lawyers an insider’s view of courthouse procedures.

And “Give Back 4 Justice” is a networking program promoting pro bono work.

There’s so much vitality and energy here – and that’s just on the mentoring side.

The Commission also conducts educational programs such as the biennial “Student to Lawyer Symposium,” which is all about preparing students for their law careers.

“The Do’s and Don’ts of Legal Writing” and many other Commission-sponsored publications fill a gap for those on the way up in our field.

Yet, there’s a lot more to the commission’s work – something that’s less tangible than statistics but, in the end, the most important product of your work and creativity.

And that’s your work in helping attorneys establish the correct Attitude; Bearing; Confidence; Demeanor; Deportment.

And the understanding and application of Honesty. And Integrity …. In everything you do.

Those of us who had the honor and pleasure to work with Chief Justice Tom Moyer understand why he planted the seeds of this Commission in 1989 by creating a committee to study the principles and beliefs of the law profession.

Chief Justice Moyer’s goal was to remind lawyers of – to quote him -- “their responsibility to maintain a high level of professionalism in relationships with clients, judges and attorneys.”

In 1992 – 25 years ago – the committee’s work gave birth to this Commission, under the Government of the Ohio Bar, Rule XV.

The commitment of this Commission is to achieve and maintain – quote -- “the highest standards of integrity and honor among members of the profession.”

There is no doubt that the Commission and its members have cleared that high bar.

Given the state of our politics and culture today, it’s safe to say there never has been a time when honesty, integrity, and truthfulness are more needed – by all professions….but importantly by our profession.

The Rule of Law is at stake.

Just laws and equality.

Impartiality.

Accountability by all branches of government.

These are the pillars for maintaining the Rule of Law.

The foundation beneath those pillars are found in the way we comport ourselves – how we dedicate ourselves to honesty and integrity and put these attributes to use.

This organization had a mission. A living mission. Not one that can be accomplished and set aside as finished one day. But one that must live and breathe and grow every day in order for the highest ideals of our profession to be carried out – and carried on – to provide access to justice for all Ohioans and achieve that goal with the highest of ideals.

You have spent 25 productive years establishing that living mission. It is growing and reaching new heights that would make Chief Justice Moyer so proud.

As a keen observer and supporter of what you do, I know that this living mission will continue to, literally, raise the bar.

Thank you again for your time, and thank you for what you do.

May God bless.