The Hon. John W. McCormac

  • John W. McCormacThe Hon. John W. McCormac
    Franklin University Law School, 1961
    Law School Dean, 1966-71
    Honorary Doctor of Laws, Capital University, 1986 



    John W. McCormac came from humble beginnings to become one of the most influential people in the history of Capital University Law School and a highly regarded member of the legal community.

    He was born and raised in rural Muskingum County. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946 as a Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class on the amphibious transport craft US Thurston, participating in the invasions of Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Philippines. He graduated from Muskingum College in 1951, majoring in math and physics, then worked as a fire protection engineer from 1951 to 1960.

    McCormac graduated from Franklin University Law School (a precursor of Capital University Law School) in 1961, attaining the highest grade point average in the school’s history. He then spent five years working as an attorney with the law firm of Schwenker, Teaford, Brothers & Bernard, specializing in trials and appeals.

    After five years of private practice and some part-time teaching at Franklin, he joined the full-time faculty in the fall of 1965 with the understanding that he would assume the dean’s role after the retirement of Dean Ralph H. Klapp.

    The dean’s position was split for one year in 1965-66 between McCormac as administrative dean and Professor Emeritus John E. Sullivan as academic dean. In 1966, Sullivan returned to the classroom and McCormac became the sole dean for the Law School.

    McCormac was dean for five years, during which tremendous developments occurred, not the least of which was Capital University’s acquisition of the Law School from Franklin University in 1966. McCormac had his hands full working to bring the school into compliance with American Bar Association accreditation guidelines. One of his first priorities was securing Capital University’s permission to grant its law school graduates juris doctor degrees rather than bachelor of laws degrees, which had been the previous practice.

    Converting to the JD degree brought the Law School in line with other Ohio schools – and made Capital’s graduates more competitive in the job market.

    McCormac also led the Law School in its efforts to get ABA approval to launch a full-time day program. The process to receive approval for the program began in 1966, with the first class graduating in 1972. The addition required additional space and faculty.

    Other programs inaugurated under McCormac’s term as dean included development of the paralegal program, the Law Review and the Night Prosecutor program, which was the foundation for the eventual creation of the Center for Dispute Mediation.

    McCormac became judge of the 10th District Court of Appeals in 1975 and served until 1993, including serving as Chief Justice from 1990-91. He then served as retired judge by assignment of the Ohio Supreme Court in various appellate and common pleas courts, as well as the Court of Claims. He was an adjunct professor of law at the Moritz School of Law at The Ohio State University from 1993-2001.

    McCormac was active in the legal community. He served on the Ohio Civil and Appellate Rules Committees from 1968-72; was a consultant to the Ohio Supreme Court in formulating The Ohio Civil Rules from 1969-70; and authored various staff notes to the Ohio Civil Rules Chair of the Supreme Court Committee to suggest amendments to their administrative rules.

    He was president of the League of Ohio Law Schools from 1970-71, president of the Columbus Bar Association from 1975-76, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Ohio State Bar Association from 1977-80. He was chairman of the Ohio Judicial Conference from 1980-82.

    In 1984, McCormac received the OSBA’s highest honor, the Outstanding Service in Law and Government Award. He received the CBA’s highest honor, the Bar Service Medal, in 1992.

    He was a consultant to the Supreme and Constitutional Courts of the Ukraine to help formulate appellate Procedure from 1998-2000.

    He authored many works, most notably the first and second editions of the Ohio Civil Rules Practice in 1970 and 1992. He also authored the first three volumes of Ohio Civil Procedure from 1972-75 and Wrongful Deaths in Ohio in 1982, among many other scholarly and professional works.

    He also has been a frequent instructor for the OSBA, the Ohio Judicial Conference and other continuing education programs.

    He currently lives in Worthington, Ohio, with his wife of 60 years, Martha.