Skip to main content

Justice Speeches

Bar Admissions Ceremony 2022
Retired Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
May 9, 2022

Good morning.

I’m Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. Welcome to the May 2022 Ohio Bar Admissions Ceremony.

It is an honor for me, as Chief Justice, to preside today and to welcome you as colleagues at the Bar. It is especially gratifying to be able to hold this ceremony in person as was our tradition prior to Covid.

I want to mention the other members of the Supreme Court who are here today: Justices Sharon Kennedy, Patrick Fischer, Pat DeWine, Michael Donnelly and Melody Stewart and Jennifer Brunner.

Today you transform from law school graduates into lawyers. This is the culmination of 20 or more years of education.

On behalf of myself and my colleagues on the bench of the Supreme Court of Ohio, Well Done. Congratulations! Your countless hours of study have culminated in graduation and now passing the bar.You have learned to think logically. You have learned skills for evaluating people, situations, and solutions. Now, you are poised to use your success in a variety of ways.

Some will “practice law” in the traditional sense that is representing clients, individuals, and businesses. Others will use their law degree and admittance to the bar to teach, to work in house for non-profits, to work as a public servant, to become entrepreneurs, and the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

For those entering the professional life of an attorney you know that much will be expected –no – demanded of you.

Across America, and the world, attorneys play a critical role. The legal profession is an essential cornerstone of our democratic institutions. Without the legal profession, the rights and freedoms that define our culture and our democracy would not be possible. I urge you always to remember the role of our profession in today’s world. Your capacity to promote change will lift us up as a profession.

Hold on to the skills you learned in law school. Yet, be inspired by the possibilities that change can bring. When you see the need for change, be brave and start a conversation. That is the first step to all change.

In practice, people may turn to you as they plan their life stages: How do they set up a will, guardianship, or maybe trust for their newborn baby. People may look to you at their most successful moment to get advice on managing their hard-earned money. Is the contract right to buy the property upon which to build their dream home? And they will come to you at their lowest moment? Perhaps their teen is facing charges that could change the trajectory of their life.

Some of you will use your law degree in public service, maybe representing the State of Ohio as an assistant prosecutor; some will take on the responsibilities of in-house counsel for a corporation or institution, some may open their own office and represent a variety of clients…and some of you may never practice law in the traditional sense. You may use your legal training to benefit you in other walks of life.

From this day forward, you will strive to find solutions to problems, big and small. Do so with dignity.

While law school is in your past, remember that learning isn’t. You will be amazed at all the things you have to learn, even though you passed the bar, and with any luck, you’ll be learning for the rest of your life.

No matter how you use your law degree, remember to:

  • Strive to be professional.
  • Avoid arrogance – be humble.
  • Be kind.
  • Practice those attributes and you will help elevate our profession.

By choosing law as a career, you have chosen wisely. Your countless hours of study are about to open a whole new world for you.

As your journey as a lawyer begins today, I will give you a bit more advice:

Don’t worry if you haven’t secured that dream job yet. That’s OK. Don’t be discouraged. Use this time as a gift. This could be an opportunity for you to provide public service and sharpen your skills at the same time. Countless fellow Ohioans and fellow Americans are disadvantaged and need legal advice. Think about how you can use your growing wisdom and expertise to help them.

Volunteer your services with the Access to Justice Foundation or Ohio Legal Help. Pro bono service is an excellent way for you to help yourself as well as needy clients.

Pro bono work goes hand in hand with the privilege of practicing law – because it can change lives.

Think about it this way: Helping others will build your confidence in applying the law and advocating for clients.

As a member of the Ohio bar, you have obligations to your clients, your peers, and the public. Always remember that you are not alone in your efforts to meet those obligations. The state bar as well as your local bar association are great resources. Get involved and you will see the doors that are opened.

Also, the Supreme Court has created a mentoring program to assist you as a new attorney. The program pairs you with an experienced attorney mentor – someone you can rely on to help you navigate your first year out of law school. Please remember that, If you find yourself in a situation where you suspect you’re facing an ethical challenge…Stop! Consult your mentor. Get advice from a lawyer who has been in the business much longer than you and follow the advice.

Information regarding the mentoring program will be available to you after the ceremony.

And one bit of advice that I always say at this event – never show up for court on time … be at least fifteen minutes early.

Now, you are about to take your oath.

As a new attorney, you will pledge fairness, integrity, and civility. Be an example of that every day. I urge you to build the very best reputation you possibly can. It is said, To whom much is given, much is expected. Whatever you do, maintain your integrity.

You’ve worked hard to get here. Your parents, grandparents, spouses, partners, significant others, children and friends, law professors, deans, and teachers – all of them are proud of you. They have watched your remarkable diligence during these difficult months. Today, they applaud your success. Be sure to thank all of them – and pay back their support by working to become the best attorney you can be.

You have the power to lead your community wherever you go – whether it’s small towns or big cities.

Remember to start your journey with humility and respect – for your clients, opposing counsel, judges, and court staff and fellow employees. In any situation, it’s pretty hard to be upset with someone who is showing respect. Showing respect should diffuse most tense conversation. Then the listening can take place.

Strive to improve your community. Strive to improve our system of justice.

Presiding over the bar admissions ceremony is one of my favorite duties as Chief Justice.

Therefore, on behalf of the entire Supreme Court of Ohio I say ….

Congratulations! Well, done!

Next, it is tradition to have a law school dean speak on behalf of all the deans of Ohio law schools.

I would like to introduce our first speaker – Dean Emily Janoski-Haehlen of the University of Akron School of Law.

Dean Janoski-Haehlen …

[Dean Janoski-Haehlen speaks]

Thank you, Dean Janoski-Haehlen. Our next speaker is the president of the Ohio State Bar Association, David H. Lefton.

[David Lefton speaks.]

Thank you, President Lefton. 

It is now my honor to introduce Robert Morrow, Vice-Chair of the Board of Bar Examiners.

Thank you, Vice-Chair Morrow.

We have a motion before the Court. Are there any objections?

Hearing none, the motion is approved.

I now have the distinct honor of administering the oath. I would like for all applicants to stand and raise their right hands.



I, ___state your name___, hereby (swear or affirm) that I will support the Constitution and the laws of the United States and the Constitution and the laws of Ohio, and I will abide by the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.

In my capacity as an attorney and officer of the Court, I will conduct myself with dignity and civility and show respect toward judges, court staff, clients, fellow professionals, and all other persons.

I will honestly, faithfully, and competently discharge the duties of an attorney at law. (So, help me God.)

Congratulations, attorneys!

Now, to speak on behalf of the Justices of the Supreme Court, it is my pleasure to welcome Justice R. Patrick DeWine.

[Justice DeWine speaks.]

Thank you, Justice DeWine.

We are now coming to the moment you’ve been waiting for. You will hear your name called and receive your certificate.

But before we begin, please keep in mind we have a few ground rules, that if followed will allow this ceremony to continue without a hitch:

  • For the attorneys, 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... Word of advice…Use the handrails when descending the stairs.
  • Picture takers, please be mindful not to insert yourself into the flow of new attorneys.

Congratulations again to our new attorneys. On behalf of the Court. We congratulate you for your achievement. We also invite you to make your way over to the Thomas J. Moyer Judicial Center that houses the Supreme Court.

The Ohio State Bar Assoc will be there with information and will the staff from Attorney services.

Today you will receive a bookmark. It has a QR code that will unlock your future and connect you to the legal community. You must register as an attorney with the Office of Attorney Services at the Supreme Court. The preference is that you scan the code and keep the process paperless. Scan that code to register and become licensed.

To Connect with a mentor.

To Get information about New Lawyers Training.

To Connect with Public Service Opportunities.

Even watch the recording of this ceremony or check the photo album from today to see you and your cohort, as you are admitted to the bar.

You look good by the way.

Thank you to all the friends and relatives who took part in this special day

I’d like to recognize those who made this ceremony a success:

  • The Office of bar admissions
  • Supreme Court Staff Volunteers
  • The Columbus Police Department
  • The Supreme Court Security
  • Our sign language interpreter, Linda Ross
  • The ushers from CAPA and the stage crew
  • And our Marshall, Bill Crawford

This concludes today’s ceremony.

Marshall, will you adjourn Court?

Word files may be viewed for free with Office Online.

PDF Files may be viewed, printed, and searched using the Free Acrobat® Reader. Acrobat Reader is a trademark of Adobe Inc.