Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Bar Admission Caps Years-Long Journeys for Almost 600 New Attorneys

Nearly 600 attorneys took their oaths and received their certificates to practice law before all seven justices at the Ohio Supreme Court’s annual fall bar admission ceremony at the Palace Theatre in Columbus.

“The amount of good that one attorney can accomplish can be monumental,” said Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. “Sometimes it changes the legal system. But it always changes the life of the client.”

The ceremony was a welcome but also unusual situation for many of the new bar entrants. After years of education and numerous hurdles along the way, they took their last step as they transitioned from students to legal professionals.

“It’s a good feeling. It’s kind of weird that it’s all finally done,” said Katie Woodford, a Capital Law School graduate who’s working in family law.

She, like many others, got her license on the conventional path as a 20-something who went to law school right after college. For some, like fellow Capital alum and Chillicothe Police Chief Keith Washburn, his acceptance into the bar was a plan that took decades to fulfill as he juggled a career and a family.

“I’ve spent 23 years as a police officer rising through the ranks to the position of police chief, and I knew, one day, I was going to go to law school. I had the opportunity and, at 46 years old, I graduated and passed the Ohio bar exam,” he said.

As life got in the way for some fulfilling their goal of becoming a lawyer, at least one person was close to giving up that dream. After failing the bar exam on her first two attempts, Angelina Vega gave herself an ultimatum – her third try would be the OSU Moritz School of Law graduate’s last, whether she succeeded or not.

“My mom passed away right before I started law school. So, she’s not here for this, but I know that she would’ve been really proud, and thinking about that makes me very emotional about it,” she said.

Emotions ran high for countless others throughout the proceedings, including Washburn, who also lost a parent during his pursuit of a law degree.

“I had to fight back the tears three or four times. My father passed away while I was in law school. That was the hardest thing was to fight back the emotions there because he wasn’t there to see me in person, but I know he’s watching over me now,” he said.

The police chief still had several other family members help him celebrate the occasion in person. The father-of-three cited his two sons and daughter as the primary push to achieve his legal ambition.

“I did this mainly for my children to let them know that anything’s possible, and if you set your mind to it and you’re willing and able, you can do anything,” said Washburn, who hopes one of his children will follow in his footsteps of becoming a lawyer.

It’s a legacy that Kathryn Harris, a Stanford Law School graduate, is carrying on in her family.

“My dad’s an attorney. So, I think we’ve kind of had that connection. He’s only practiced in Ohio and, so, being able to have him here was especially special,” she said.