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  • 13 May 2021 9:59 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    On Friday, April 30, the OWBA Government Subcommittee Co-Chairs - Renata Staff and Corinna Efkeman - announced the recipients for the 2020 and 2021 Government in Action Awards. 

    Each year, the Government Subcommittee and OWBA Executive Committee determine a recipient of the Government in Action Award, which is bestowed to a woman who has demonstrated strong leadership by promoting opportunities for the advancement of women and been influential in the public sector and in the community she serves.

    The 2020 Government in Action Honoree is Justice Melody Stewart of the Ohio Supreme Court.

    Justice Melody Stewart was elected in November 2018 to a full term as the 161st Justice to serve on the Supreme Court of Ohio. She is the first African-American woman elected to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

    Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Justice Stewart served on the Eighth District Court of Appeals — elected to an unexpired term in 2006 and twice reelected to full terms. She served as the court’s Administrative Judge in 2013.

    Justice Stewart has more than 30 years of combined administrative, legal, and academic experience. She was an administrator for a health care management company, a music teacher, a civil defense litigator, and a law school administrator and professor before being elected to the Court of Appeals. While on the Eighth District Court of Appeals, Justice Stewart was assigned to hear cases in other appellate districts and in the Ohio Supreme Court.

    The 2021 Government in Action Honoree is Sherry Maxfield, Director of the Ohio Department of Commerce.

    Sherry previously served as Chief Counsel for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Her responsibilities included overseeing 11 sections of the office which practice in legal areas ranging from Antitrust to Workers’ Compensation law.

    Sherry worked for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office from 1984-2019 and during her time with the office has been the Assistant Chief of the Court of Claims section, the Chief of the Executive Agencies section and Chief of the Health & Human Services section. She previously served as First Assistant Attorney General.

    During her career, Sherry has been recognized by her colleagues for her professionalism and legal expertise. She received an AGO Professionalism award in 1997 and in 1999 was the inaugural recipient of the Simon B. Karas Award for Outstanding legal contribution to the Attorney General’s Office.


  • 10 May 2021 11:32 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    On Friday, April 30, 2021, at the OWBA-OWBF Annual Meeting and Conference former OWBA Presidents – Lisa Whittaker and Mary DeGenaro – presented the 2020 and 2021 President’s Choice Awards.

    Each year the President’s Choice Award is presented to an individual who exemplifies the spirit of leadership, dedication and passion for the profession and for the life-long friendships made through OWBA and OWBF. The award recipient is selected by the OWBA Outgoing President.

    Lisa Whittaker presented the 2020 OWBA President’s Choice Award to Jennifer Battle, Partner at Carpenter Lipps & Leland LLP. During the event, Lisa Whittaker shared:

    “Jennifer Battle has been an active member of the OWBA for several years, and in 2019 joined the OWBA Board of Trustees and has faithfully served as the Chair of our D&I Committee. Under her leadership of the D&I Committee, Jen facilitated the crafting of a statement addressing racism and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. To follow this statement, Jennifer led the coordination of a virtual CLE with an esteemed group of panelists to discuss racism, justice, and the legal system. This CLE engaged hundreds of men and women throughout Ohio and beyond to have critical conversations about systemic racism and implicit bias. Additionally, Jen has been instrumental in evaluating our D&I Awards program and contributing thoughtful changes to the award criteria. Jennifer is now the 2021 OWBA Treasurer on the Executive Committee.”

    Mary DeGenaro presented the 2021 OWBA President’s Choice Award to Jayme Smoot, Vice President, Corporate Sustainability and External Affairs Operations, at Nationwide in Columbus. During the event, Mary DeGenaro shared:

    “Jayme is the 2021 President-Elect of the OWBA has always been an active member of the OWBA and Officer of the OWBA Executive Committee for several years, providing thoughtful guidance and insight as the OWBA faced new challenges in dealing with the virtual reality thrust upon us, and also putting the OWBA’s mission into action and keeping the organization as a relevant voice in the D & I space for our profession. In 2020, Jayme coordinated a virtual CLE in our D&I CLE Series focused on systemic racism and racial inequity in the in-house environment. She coordinated a diverse and experienced group of General Counsel’s and CEOs, and then moderated an engaging conversation on how in-house legal departments can best counsel their internal clients and constituents about issues of systemic racism and racial inequity within their organizations. Jayme has proven to be an excellent partner with our 2020 Awardee Jennifer Battle, and I am excited to see the OWBA’s progress as Jayme moves up the ranks in our organization’s leadership and make her mark on both the OWBA and the legal profession.”


  • 10 May 2021 11:23 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    On Friday, April 30, 2021, the Ohio Women’s Bar Association presented the 2021 Diversity & Inclusion Sponsor Award to Perez Morris LLC at the OWBA-OWBF Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio. The OWBA Diversity & Inclusion Sponsor Award recognizes recognize a law firm, company or other legal organization that has a demonstrated commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within the profession. OWBA President-Elect Jayme Smoot presented the award to Sarah Perez, Firm Managing Partner at Perez Morris LLC. The firm also received the OWBA D&I Champion Award in 2018.

    During the Annual Meeting Luncheon, the following was shared from nomination letters submitted on behalf of Perez Morris:

    “As one of the largest women law firms in Central Ohio, Perez Morris is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in law and in community. The firm believes that promoting diversity cannot simply be an aspirational initiative, but something that is woven into the very nature of business. This philosophy demands that law firms must act with intentionality in order to recruit, support, and empower minority and female attorneys, particularly women of color. This continuous commitment to this mission results in the betterment of both the firm’s work and culture. Leading by example, the firm is dedicated to creating opportunities for the underrepresented and underserved as an employer and partner.

    A pillar of the community for more than 20 years, Perez Morris has always had a dedication to lifting up the underserved. The firm seeks to create lasting impact on the community, particularly by moving roadblocks to economic opportunity to increase diversity and to support a stable, strong workforce. Strategically focusing its giving, pro bono and advocacy efforts on causes with underlying diversity challenges like single families and homelessness, Perez Morris is making a difference.

    During the pandemic, Perez Morris expanded its community outreach efforts to meet the increased needs of local families. At Etna Road Elementary in Whitehall, nearly all students and their families identify as economically disadvantaged, with 80% being non-English language learners.”


  • 10 May 2021 11:05 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    On Friday, April 30, 2021, the Ohio Women’s Bar Association presented Kimberly Amrine, Chief Diversity Officer of Frost Brown Todd LLC, with the 2021 Kurt Tunnell Diversity & Inclusion Sponsor Award at the OWBA-OWBF Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio. The Kurt Tunnell Diversity & Inclusion Sponsor Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within the profession, particularly through support and sponsorship of diverse attorneys. OWBA Treasurer and D&I Committee Chair, Jennifer Battle, presented the award to Kimberly Amrine.

    During the Annual Meeting Luncheon, the following was shared from nomination letters submitted on behalf of Kim:

    “In her role as Director, Kim has been a pioneer. She was appointed to her position in 2006. At that time, there was only one other law firm in the country with a director-level position dedicated to diversity and inclusion. There was no written job description or list of job duties. Kim had to use her knowledge of Frost Brown Todd and its culture, and to leverage her relationships, to recommend policies and procedures and produce outcomes. Currently, there are well over 200 professionals nationally who are devoted to diversity and inclusion in law firms. Kim routinely presents and shares her experiences with this group in conference settings and mentors many of these professionals on an ongoing basis.

    Kim also works with clients and community leaders on their inclusion programming and goals. She has conducted unconscious-bias training and shared many of the programs that she developed for Frost Brown Todd with some of our largest clients. She also invests time to develop and participate in numerous pipeline efforts to increase diversity in our profession.

    This past summer Kim really stepped up as a DEI leader in the wake of the social injustices plaguing the African-American community in our country. Following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Kim worked with me and other firm leaders to develop and implement the FBT Racial Justice Action Plan. The plan consists of 17 short-term, mid-term, and long-term racial justice focused goals.

    Throughout her career, Kim has be an incredible mentor, sponsor, and advocate for women and minorities and has championed innovative programs to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal field.”

    Kurt Tunnell Diversity & Inclusion Sponsor Award Announcement: 

    It was announced during the Annual Meeting Luncheon that the OWBA Board of Trustees and Diversity & Inclusion Committee unanimously decided in 2019 to rename the OWBA Diversity & Inclusion Sponsor Award to the “Kurt Tunnell Diversity & Inclusion Sponsor Award”. Kurt Tunnell, former Managing Partner of Bricker & Eckler LLP, tragically passed away in a fatal bicycling accident on August 31, 2019.

    Immediate Past President Mary DeGenaro shared:

    “I am one of many people who were blessed to have known Kurt-a man of faith who was quietly generous with his time, talent and guidance. Kurt led an incredible personal and professional life that touched countless people and organizations in a truly impactful way. He was a former Managing Partner at Bricker & Eckler and left his unique, positive mark over his 30-pluse year career with the firm-a longevity that speaks to his loyalty and character. The OWBA honored Kurt’s commitment to sponsoring and mentoring women in the law by awarding him the 2018 D&I Sponsor Award. The goal of renaming this award is to remember Kurt’s legacy of leadership, servanthood, and sponsorship for years to come through the OWBA D&I Sponsor Award.”


  • 10 May 2021 10:59 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    On Friday, April 30, 2021, the Ohio Women’s Bar Association presented Barnes & Thornburg LLP with the 2021 Family Friendly Award at the OWBA-OWBF Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio. The Family Friendly Award is presented as recognition of the firm’s commitment to work-life balance in order to encourage lawyers to take care of their families while pursuing a successful career. Former OWBA President Lisa Whittaker presented the award to Katrina Thompson, Partner at Barnes & Thornburg. Thompson spoke briefly, on behalf of Baker Hostetler, to express their gratitude for receiving recognition from the OWBA.

    The OWBA promotes leadership, advancement and interests of woman attorneys through professional education and networking. Sense 2003 the OWBA has chosen a legal employer in Ohio that goes above and beyond to provide employees with an ideal work-life balance arrangement and to ensure that all lawyers are able to raise a family while leading a successful career. As the 2021 recipient of the Family Friendly Award, Barnes & Thornburg has proven their outstanding desire to promote the value of success in the family while succeeding in the career.

    During the Annual Meeting Luncheon, the following was shared from their nomination letters:

    "Over the past few years, Barnes & Thornburg has significantly amped up their diversity and inclusion infrastructure which has accelerated their accomplishments in the area of family friendly policies. A notable effort to support new parents at all levels of employment was a new policy approved in January 2019 which permits all firm employees with 16 weeks of 100% paid parental live. In 2020, the firm added a sixth talent resource group, BTParents. This group serves as a network for our working parent teammates and allies, and has hosted multiple firmwide programs, including recently a virtual music class for children ages 2-8, and a program with Ruling Our Experiences, which is an organization focused on helping girls cope with today’s stress and pressure.

    Even with the uncertainty that 2020 brought with the pandemic, Barnes & Thornburg cut no salaries or positions due to the pandemic and were able to support every employees unique situation with working from home. The firm is committed to continue offering maximum flexibility as their office re-opens.

    Lastly, Barnes & Thornburg is perhaps best known for inventing a series of large events dedicated to promoting gender equity in the legal industry, otherwise known as “GELI.” GELI originated in January 2017 out of the firm’s partnership with the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio as facilitated small table discussions that constructively challenge diverse participants to examine their biases in guided discussions. Since the first event, GELI has grown to a partnership with other law firms and resulted in more than a dozen events attracting hundreds of participants in Columbus and Cleveland. They have also taken the program to law schools, clients, and their own team."

  • 30 Nov 2020 7:59 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The Ohio Supreme Court today released results from the October 2020 Ohio Bar Examination. Of the 958 aspiring lawyers who sat for the exam, 741 – or 77.4% passed the exam. This is the highest pass rate since July 2013.

    Among the first 810 first-time test takers, 85.3% received passing scores.

    The mid-year exam, typically held in late July, was pushed back to October due to COVID-19. This also was the first remote bar exam ever in the state of Ohio.

    The successful applicants who meet all other admission requirements will be sworn in during a special session of the Supreme Court on Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. using remote technology.

    The bar exam is administered by the Court, which regulates the practice of law in Ohio, including the admission of new attorneys, the biennial registration of current attorneys, attorney discipline in cases of misconduct, and the administration of continuing legal education.

    Article source

  • 29 Sep 2020 11:35 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The Ohio Women’s Bar Association and Foundation grieve the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed at the age of 87 on September 18, 2020. Ginsburg dedicated her career and life to advocate for justice, especially for gender equality and women’s rights. She was a strategic advocate in advancing equal rights for women; of the five cases she participated in before the U.S. Supreme that resulted in merit opinions, four of her clients were men. Her first case before the Court was as amicus curiae for the ALCU advocating for a female lieutenant of the Air Force who was denied dependent allowances for her spouse. In Frontiero v. Richardson (1973), the Court held different qualifications for female and male military spouses discriminated against women in violation of the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. Her last case was on behalf of a criminal defendant, where the Court in Duren v. Missouri (1978) held that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right was violated because women were automatically exempted from jury service upon request; resulting in an all-male jury from a panel that only included 5 women. Ginsburg continued her role as a trailblazer for women in the law by becoming the first woman to earn tenure at Columbia law, serving as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and then becoming the second female appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

    Throughout her life and career, Justice Ginsburg also served her family with grace. After graduating at the top of her class at Cornell, she put her education on hold while she and her beloved husband Marty started a family and he completed a two year military commitment. During her first year at Harvard Law School as one of nine women in her 500 member class, she and her classmates endured challenges for “taking a man’s spot’ and won her first of many fights with cancer. When her husband Marty was diagnosed with cancer, she attended classes and took notes for both of them, typing Marty’s papers for him and caring for their daughter, and still making the Harvard Law Review. The Ginsburgs’ marriage defied many gender-norms; they were unashamed in their devotion to each other and their shared legacy has modeled what it means to be a shared-parenting couple.

    A notable attribute of Justice Ginsburg that is increasingly rare in our current social and political climate was her collegiality. Her friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia-born when they were both law school professors, forged when they both served on the D.C. Circuit and cemented at the Supreme Court was renowned and described as remarkable. Both had strong, differing opinions—yet both freely admitted each made the other’s writing better—and they valued their friendship immensely. At a time when our country seems more divided than ever, we as lawyers and as people should follow their example to make it more common and less remarkable. To set aside differences in pursuit of justice was a light to the legal system.

    To the end of her life Justice Ginsburg fought fiercely against cancer five times, inspiring countless in their own fight with her example of tenacity and grace.

    We extend our condolences to her family and friends. We are confident that Justice Ginsburg’s legacy will carry on and lead the way for the future of lawyers – both women and men. To honor her life, let us all follow her example of tenacity, professional collegiality, and devotion to family.

  • 10 Sep 2020 8:28 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor will deliver the annual State of the Judiciary address in Columbus using remote technology on Thursday, Sept. 10.

    The address will take place as part of the annual meeting of the Ohio Judicial Conference 2020. The conference theme is “Breaking Barriers.”

    The State of the Judiciary will be carried live on the Ohio Channel and live-streamed at ohiochannel.org, https://youtu.be/Kn6vFoqFlno, and on the Supreme Court’s website, beginning at 10:25 a.m. EDT.

  • 28 Jul 2020 12:53 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    The Ohio Supreme Court issued an order allowing state attorneys to receive Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit for serving as precinct election officials on Election Day, according to Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office.

    Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said the need for poll workers is a problem they have every election, but amid COVID19, the need is even greater this year.

    "The problem is that poll workers, often times, are in the high-risk area when it comes to COVID-19 because many of them are over the age of 60, so the Secretary of State got the brilliant idea to ask attorneys to do it. We have 42,000 plus attorneys in the state," she said.

    According to LaRose's office, 65% of poll workers in Ohio are over the age of 61, putting them in the high-risk category for COVID-19.

    Attorneys in Ohio have to complete 24 hours of CLE credit every 2 years.

    "It's basically a refresher course," said Dean DePiero, an attorney in Northeast Ohio. "It’s a good refresher on different areas on the law and it’s a good opportunity to catch up on new court rulings and those types of things," he said.

    Under this order, if they volunteer to work the precincts on Election Day, they can earn up to 4 of those 24 needed credits.

    "I think lawyers generally are very civic-minded," DePiero said. "The cornerstone of our democracy is voting and free and fair elections, and so, lawyers who are skilled in that, because we are trained to be skilled in reading law and understanding the Voting Rights Act, we are in the best position to assist in those endeavors."

    DePiero said he would volunteer himself.

    "I think it’s an interesting twist. I think it’s a good idea," he said.

    O'Connor said it's not just for attorneys, "Judges can do this, as well, if they're not on the ballot."

    If you'd like to sign up to be a precinct official: click here.

    Original article posted here

  • 28 Jul 2020 10:33 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Gov. Mike DeWine has announced the appointment of Kristy S. Wilkin to the Fourth District Court of Appeals.

    Judge-designate Wilkin, of Hillsboro, will assume office Aug. 3 and must run for election on Nov. 3 for the remainder of the unexpired term ending Feb. 8, 2023. She is replacing Judge Matthew W. McFarland, who was appointed by President Trump as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

    Judge-designate Wilkin is currently a partner at Peelle Law Offices Co. LPA in Hillsboro. She has served as an adjunct professor at Southern State Community College and has held a judicial externship in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

    She graduated cum laude from Xavier University with a degree in accounting and holds a degree from the Ohio Northern University Petit School of Law, where she served as associate editor of the law review.

    Original article posted here.

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