1903 William Dustin Corn meets at the Young
Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) on the evening of October 16,
with a group of about 20 men interested in attending evening law classes.
That evening, they decide to establish a law school as part of a national
program begun by the YMCA to enable all interested American citizens,
regardless of race, sex, or social strata to gain a legal education. The
Columbus Law School is one of 14 law programs established
across the country at this time by the YMCA to assure access to a legal
education by qualified men and women who could not afford a full-time
law school, yet were willing to devote their evenings to study the law.
Corn is instrumental in setting up the first classes and serves as the
first dean until 1906 when he joins the law faculty at Ohio Northern University.
Henry S. Ballard, who read law in Corn’s law office, joins Corn
as the first faculty member.
The first evening classes in the “Y” building are held on
South Third Street, across from the Capitol. Today, the site is the location
of the Columbus Dispatch.
1906 The Ohio Supreme Court recognizes the Columbus
1908 Henry G. Binns and James E. Bauman become the first
Columbus Law School students to score better than 85 percent on the Bar
1913-1917 The law school program is
temporarily on hold, except for a few students who study on their own
initiative, due to World War I and a lack of activity.
1916 Charles O. Hunter, a Columbus attorney, donates about
1,000 volumes to start the law school library.
1917 Under the leadership of Charles M. Roudebush, director
of the YMCA schools, the law school is reorganized into one of five schools at
the Y. Fourteen students are enrolled this year.
1918 Women enter the law school’s program for the first
time, but it is not until 1926 that a woman earns a law degree.
1920 The school is incorporated
as the Columbus Evening Law School of the YMCA of Columbus.
1921 The power to confer the LL.B. degree is granted
by the Ohio Supreme Court. The name is changed to the YMCA Evening
1922 The name changes again, this time to the Columbus
YMCA Law School. The law school offers a four-year course leading
to a Bachelor of Laws, followed by a two year course for a Master of Laws.
1923 The law school, under the name of the Columbus
College of Law, moves with the YMCA to its newly constructed
building on 40 East Long Street; the building remains today the facilities
of the Central Ohio YMCA. The school retains this name until 1948.
1923 A high school diploma is required for entry into
1924 The first formal graduation is conducted on June
11, 1924. Eight degrees are conferred.
1926 On June 9, 1926, Esther Brocker, the first woman alumnae,
graduates from the law school. For four years, Esther, the mother of a
13-year-old son, drove in fair weather and foul between her home in Lancaster,
Ohio and Columbus to attend classes three times a week. In a December
1998 newspaper article, her great-granddaughter recalled some of the hardships
she endured as a student: “When a touchy subject came up during
class, something they felt a woman should not hear, Esther was made to
leave the classroom and the class would discuss it without her. Then afterwards,
a classmate would have to explain to her what they talked about.”
1927 Admission requirements are upped to a high school
diploma plus one year of college.
1928 Admission requirements are increased to a high
school diploma plus two years of college totaling 60 semester hours.
1931 David D. White, the first
African-American, graduates from the law school. Mr. White is the first black
attorney licensed to practice in Columbus. Capital University Law School’s David
D. White Scholarship was established in his honor.
1931 John M. Matthias becomes the first graduate of the
Columbus College of Law to place first in the state on the bar exam. Mr.
Matthias later becomes a Justice on the Ohio Supreme Court serving from 1954 to
1933 Franklin University is founded as the new educational
arm of the YMCA. All of the schools it operates, including the Columbus College
of Law, fall under Franklin’s umbrella.
1934 January 6, 1934, the Franklin University Student Bar
Association begins; this is the first such organization in Ohio.
1934 On March 18, the law school becomes a charter member of
the League of Ohio Law Schools, an organization created by the Ohio Supreme
Court to establish and maintain high standards in legal education in Ohio
through a state accreditation process.
1935 On February 15, the Columbus College of Law Alumni
Association is formed. Judge C.P. McClelland of the Franklin County Probate
Court is elected the first president. Dues are $1 a year.
1948 The law school
changes its name to Franklin University Law School.
1950 On February 27, the law school
receives conditional ABA sanctioning and is placed on the approved list of the
Section of Legal Education of the ABA.
1954 On August 18, 1954, the law school achieves full
accreditation from the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of
the American Bar Association.
1964 On June 23, 1964, Franklin University ends its ties to
the YMCA and becomes an independent, non-profit corporation.
1965 It becomes apparent that if Franklin University Law
School is to continue, it is necessary to move the school to an accredited
undergraduate university where better physical facilities can be obtained and
there is room for expansion. Franklin board members recognize the importance of
preserving the law school as a needed element of legal education in Columbus.
Joint action to move the law school to Capital University is taken by the
Franklin University and Capital University boards on December 13, 1965.
1966 On September 1, the law school officially becomes a
part of Capital University, under the leadership of Deans John McCormac and John
Sullivan. The law school moves to Capital’s Bexley campus. Law classes are held
in Troutman Hall and Huber-Spielman Hall while the Law Library and faculty
offices are housed in the renovated Willaman Building, a former Chevrolet
dealership on E. Main St. across from Capital’s main campus. The school retains
the name Franklin Law School of Capital University.
1966 On September 10, a gala inaugural convocation is held
for about 2,000 faculty, students, alumni and guests. Among the speakers are
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Kingsley A. Taft, U.S. Senator Frank J.
Lausche, and Tom Moody, a 1956 Franklin University Law School graduate and
future mayor of Columbus. The law degree is redesignated from an LL.B. to a
Juris Doctor and the J.D. degree is awarded to the 336 alumni present and about
200 other alumni in absentia.
1969 The law school is granted approval by the American Bar
Association to start a full-time day law program. Fifty-one students enroll in
the first full-time day classes.
1971 Professors William H. Bluth and Terrence F. Kiely
establish the Capital University Law Clinic. Third year law students are
permitted by the Ohio Supreme Court to represent clients in Ohio courtrooms
under the supervision of a licensed attorney. The Legal Clinic continues today
under the directorship of Professor Danny
1971 The Night Prosecutor Mediation Program is established
with the cooperation of Columbus City Attorney James Hughes and Professors
Josiah Blackmore, Terrence Kiely and John Palmer. Criminal misdemeanor
complaints are mediated through hearings conducted by Capital University law
students. This is the first major mediation program in the nation and later is
adopted by the American Bar Association as a prototype for cities around the
country. Initial funding is provided by a Law Enforcement Assistance
Administration (LEAA) grant of the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1974, the
program is designated an Exemplary Project by the National Institute of Law
Enforcement and Criminal Justice of LEAA. The program receives many other awards
during its early years from the ABA, Governor, and World Congress of Victimology
and the program is written about in Time, Newsweek, and
U.S. News and World Report. In 1977, Larry Ray, L’77, serves as the
first full-time executive director of the program. In late 1979, Scot Dewhirst,
a 1978 graduate of the Law School and today, the co-director for Capital’s
Center for Dispute Resolution, directs the program for the next eight years.
1972 To avoid public confusion over sponsorship, the Capital
University Board of Regents changes the name of Franklin Law School of Capital
University to Capital University Law School.
1972 A certified Legal Assistant Program, endorsed by the
Columbus Bar Association, begins. This program, a first of-its-kind in the
nation to offer paralegal studies for post-baccalaureate students, is directed
by former Dean and Professor John McCormac and assisted by Professor Carole
1972 The Capital University Law Review unveils its first
edition in the Spring of 1972. The first editor-in-chief was Professor Roberta
1977 The decade of the 1970s is a time of tremendous growth
and achievement. The increase in enrollment, faculty, library resources, and
student opportunities puts many pressures on the existing Willaman building.
Capital University launches a fundraising campaign, Venture: Capital,
for major capital improvements, including a new law school building.
1978 The John E. Sullivan Lecture Series is established in
honor of Professor John E. Sullivan, a dedicated teacher and scholar who joined
the Law School faculty in 1953 and served as acting dean and academic dean
during his tenure. The Sullivan Lecture is presented each academic year by a
distinguished legal scholar who addresses a matter of significance to the Law
School and to the greater legal community. The Sullivan Lecture Series is made
possible through an endowment established by Herbert and Margith Kunmann,
friends and benefactors of Capital University Law School. Their son, Edmond J.
Kunmann, is a 1985 graduate of Capital Law School.
1980 On January 14, 630 law students and twenty-five
full-time faculty members move to the new, leased facilities at 665 South High
Street — the former Grange Mutual Insurance building. A new name emerges to
reflect the inclusion of classrooms and other facilities for Capital’s Graduate
School of Administration — Capital University Law & Graduate
Center. The building is formally dedicated on May 24, 1980.
1980 May 21, the Law School Alumni Association board
convenes for the first time.
1982 Spring Semester 1982 sees one of the Law School’s first
ventures into inter-professional education. Law students and Trinity Lutheran
Seminary students take part in a Seminar in Biomedical Law & Ethics that is
team-taught by Professor Lance Tibbles and Trinity Lutheran Seminary Academic
Dean James Childs.
1983 January 6, the Law School is admitted as the 145th
member of the prestigious Association of American Law Schools during the AALS
annual meeting held in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1984 Capital University establishes a summer program for law
students offered at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Professor John Palmer
is the first director. The summer abroad program continues for two years and is
restarted in 1997 with a summer abroad program in Greece under the direction of
Professor Robert Wade. Today, Capital’s summer abroad program includes both
Greece and Germany.
1984 Professor Roberta Mitchell and Adjunct Professor Scot
Dewhirst, with faculty approval, establish the Center for Dispute Resolution.
Among the CDR’s first activities are trainings for individuals who want to
create a mediation program similar to the Night Prosecutor Mediation Program.
Capital’s first contact with the Jamaican government also begins this year.
1984 Former Bankruptcy Judge Grady L. Pettigrew, Jr. and
Professor Michael Distelhorst establish The North Central Bankruptcy Institute.
The institute offers continuing education programs to bankruptcy judges, lawyers
and others who have an interest in this area. The institute is eventually
transferred to the Graduate School of Administration (now the School of
Management) to be a part of its executive and continuing education programs
1984 The Law School offers its first combined degree – the
joint JD/MBA with the Capital University Graduate School of Administration.
1985 Initiated by Dean Blackmore and Starr Huffman in Tokyo,
Japan, the Law School begins the American Legal Studies in Japan Program with
Professor Michael Distelhorst serving as director. At the time, Honda of America
Manufacturing and its supplier’s are building plants in central Ohio and
creating a demand for legal services and understanding. The program is designed
to run for three years, and offers courses in American law for members of the
Tokyo bar and other Japanese attorneys. The program is facilitated by Mr. Kuni
Sadamoto and Survey Japan in Tokyo. The courses are taught by members of major
law firms in Columbus (including Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, LLP;
Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn; and Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, LLP),
nationally recognized professors from other law schools, and several members of
the Law School faculty.
1985 Development of the Jamaica/Capital Project begins to
address concerns expressed by Jamaican government officials over the rise of
violence in their country. Center for Dispute Resolution Co-Director Scot
Dewhirst visits Jamaica to initiate discussions about a country-wide dispute
resolution program for courts, communities and law enforcement. In 1989, the
project receives a $200,000 Ford Foundation Grant. Efforts culminate in a
National Symposium on Dispute Resolution in 1990. The Jamaican government
declares the week of September 24, 1990 to be National Dispute Resolution
Awareness Week and the Mediation Council of Jamaica holds its first meeting. In
1994, the U.S. Agency for International Development awards a $200,000 grant
under its Sustainable Justice Improvement Program with the Government of Jamaica
to continue dispute resolution activities. The Mediation Council incorporates
and becomes the Dispute Resolution Foundation.
1986 With the leadership of Associate Dean Robert Wade, a
Graduate Tax Program is approved by the ABA. Twenty-six graduate lawyers begin
their studies towards a Master of Laws (L.L.M.) in Taxation, and twenty-six
graduate accountants begin their studies towards a Masters in Taxation (M.T.).
The first full-time tax faculty members are Carole (Butler) Berry, Addison
Dewey, Richard Donovan, David Johnston, Robert Wade and Ronald Worley. In
addition, prominent tax lawyers and accountants in central Ohio and law
professors from The Ohio State University teach some specialized courses.
1987 In November, Capital’s National Moot Court Team wins
the national championship. The team of all evening students is comprised of
Benson Wolman, Deborah Roeger, and Susan Geary. A second team from Capital
finishes in the final eight – Jane Kirkeide, Jenny Marks, and Bradford Arnold.
Professors Roberta Mitchell and Brian Freeman are the team’s advisors.
1988 The law school is approved by the Section of the Legal
Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association to offer a
Master of Laws (LL.M) in Business and Taxation for graduate lawyers. The name of
the Graduate Tax Program is changed to the Graduate Tax & Business Law
1991 The Ethics Institute, co-directed by
Professor Lance Tibbles and Professor Michael Distelhorst is established to
provide an institutional focus for interdisciplinary scholarship, research and
education about legal, professional and business ethics. With the help of
various grants, the Institute is able to offer continuing education and large
conference programming to the Columbus and Ohio legal and business communities.
The Institute is eventually joined by the Graduate School of Administration (now
the School of Management), the School of Nursing, and Trinity Lutheran Seminary
in offering multi-disciplinary continuing education programs and the first
interdisciplinary course in which law students, graduate business school
students, nursing students, and theology students comparatively study one
another’s professional ethics. The Institute’s “Essays in Justice Series” is
nationally recognized for spotlighting leading authorities in legal, business,
healthcare, and pastoral ethics. The Institute’s efforts in large conference
programs and its speakers' bureau are both important parts of its current work,
along with various newer programs such as its hosting of lawyer disciplinary
hearings at the Law School and its professionalism programs for law
1991 The first International and Comparative Law Summer
Program, under the name “Summer Abroad at Home,” is held at the law school,
attracting four distinguished foreign visiting scholar/teachers. This
first-of-its-kind, the program operates under the direction of Professor Ronald
Friedman, Director of the Institute for International Legal Education. The first
international Distinguished Visiting professor, Leszek Garlicki, from University
of Warsaw Faculty of Law and Administration, in Poland is welcomed.
1991 Dean Rodney K. Smith signs a letter of understanding
with Vice-Dean Marek Wierzbowski, University of Warsaw Faculty of Law and
Administration, Warsaw, Poland, to undertake and facilitate faculty and student
exchanges between the United States and Poland. Vice-Dean Marek Wierzbowski,
University of Warsaw Faculty of Law and Administration, Poland is the Fall 1991
Distinguished Visiting Professor. Professor Jacob Dolinger, State University of
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the Spring 1992 Distinguished Visiting Professor.
1991 During the summer, the Center for Dispute Resolution
sends a team of trainers that includes Professor Roberta Mitchell, Adjunct
Professor Scot Dewhirst and Timothy Lytton to conduct mediation training for law
students at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua (UNAN) in Leon.
Training materials are created in Spanish and role plays are adapted to the
needs of Nicaraguans. The need for a mediation initiative in Nicaragua became
clear when the civil war ended in 1989 and confusion over property rights
1992 The Center for Dispute Resolution and the Institute for
International Legal Education, together with the Universidad Nacional Autonoma
de Nicaragua, host an international conference for North, South and Central
American legal scholars, government officials and policymakers. The conference
provides a forum in which participants can discuss the role of property in a
participatory democracy and debate policy options for the peaceful resolution of
1993 The Law School and Ohio University Sports
Administration Facility Management program establish a joint degree program
enabling students to earn both a juris doctor and a master’s of sports
1994 A joint JD/ Master of Science in Nursing degree is
launched with Capitals’ School of Nursing.
1997 In August, the Law School moves to 303 E. Broad Street,
the former home of the Columbus Life Insurance Company. The building is formally
dedicated June 6, 1998 and the name returns to Capital University Law
1997 The Peter F. Frenzer Nationwide Insurance Training
Facility is established in recognition of the Center for Dispute Resolution’s
long-time partnership with Nationwide. Nationwide Insurance Enterprise
Foundation provided Capital University Law School with a $1 million corporate
donation to name the facilities that house the Center for Dispute Resolution.
The gift is given in honor of Peter F. Frenzer, retired president and chief
executive operating office of Nationwide Life Insurance. CDR’s affiliation with
Nationwide dates back to 1991 when both organizations shared an interest in
applying dispute resolution processes and skills in the insurance industry. CDR
has worked with Nationwide to identify the applications of negotiation and
mediation to issues and problems of concern in the insurance industry. One
result has been the development and implementation of a negotiation self-study
course for claims representatives.
1998 In July, The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy at Capital
University Law School is founded with the strong support of the Dave Thomas
Foundation for Adoption. The Center is a nonprofit organization that seeks to
improve the laws, policies and practices associated with child protection and
adoption systems and is directed by Professor Kent Markus. Using research,
advocacy and education, the Center works to bring change to the system
throughout the nation. Its services include Adoption LawSite, the nation’s first
comprehensive online compilation and synthesis of the law of adoption which
provides free access to the adoption related statutes and regulations, as well
as the key cases and articles, from every U.S. state and territory, along with
federal and international materials; weekly news and case summaries, an annual
symposium on a significant child welfare/adoption-related topic; Adoption
JobSite to match law students from across the nation with private, public and
nonprofit employers working in child welfare and adoption law and policy; amicus
2000 In the fall of 2000, the Law School
debuts one of the first Master of Laws in Business degrees offered in the
nation. The LL.M. in Business program is well suited to the professional who
wishes to strengthen legal and business acumen to better serve clients and
employers in a multifaceted, global marketplace.
2000 Capital University Law School’s Family Advocacy Clinic
is established with an initial $250,000 grant from the Columbus Coalition
Against Family Violence, founded in 1996 by Abigail Wexner. The Clinic serves
victims of domestic violence who do not meet eligibility criteria to receive
legal aid assistance, but who are still unable to afford a private attorney. The
Clinic works to improve the legal and community services available to family
violence victims within Franklin County and works to encourage community
collaboration. Partners include the Legal Aid Society, CHOICES Shelter, and the
Columbus City Attorney’s Office. Within the Family Advocacy Clinic, students may
choose to intern in either the Civil Protection Unit or the Child Custody Unit.
In the Civil Protection Unit, students work with staff attorneys to file civil
protection orders in the Domestic Relations Court to protect victims of domestic
violence. The Unit also provides assistance with housing needs, employment
concerns and divorce or dissolution proceedings. The Child Custody Unit offers
legal representation in contested child custody cases when family violence has
2001 In February, Capital begins a Legal Nurse Consultant
program with 38 students.
2001 The law faculty adopts a new writing graduation
requirement for students beginning Law School in fall 2002. In addition to
completing the comprehensive first-year legal Research and Writing course and
writing a scholarly article of publishable quality, student are now required to
complete a Legal Drafting course in their final year of law school study.
2002 In February, Capital University Law School wins the
10th Annual National Sports Law Moot Court Competition held in New Orleans. The
National Sports Law Moot Court Competition, sponsored by Tulane University
School of Law, is based on a contemporary legal problem confronting the sports
industry. Members of Capitals’ winning team are Christopher Slagle of
Gallipolis, Ohio; Lyndsey Sloan of Columbus, Ohio; and Carrie Snoke of
Lancaster, Ohio. The team is coached by Professor Daniel Turack.
2002 In October, Capital launches its newest
post-baccalaureate certificate program, the Life Care Planner certificate. The
program explores the intersection between law and medicine and reaches out to
those with nursing or rehabilitation expertise to work with the legal team in
cases involving clients with catastrophic illnesses or injuries.
2002 The faculties of Trinity Lutheran Seminary and Capital
University Law School create a joint degree program to enable students to
complete both a juris doctor and a master of theological studies. A graduate
with a J.D./M.T.S. degree is well prepared to deal with the complex ethical
questions of our time and is useful for persons seeking to work in the public
policy arena or with religiously-based organizations.
2002 The Law School faculty and the Capital University Board
of Trustees adopt a Strategic Plan for the law school as it enters its second
century. The goals of the plan are to 1) become a more selective law school and
admit students who are both well-qualified and committed to the values of the
legal profession; 2) provide a high-quality, academically rigorous legal
education that integrates theory with practice; 3) foster the Law School’s
centers of strength; 4) attract and retain a world-class faculty of
teacher/scholars and retain Central Ohio’s best lawyers as adjuncts; and 5)
develop a strong resource base and endowment to fund a quality educational
experience and increase the value of Capital University Law School to students
and the community.
2003 Athornia Steele is named the Law School’s first African-American Dean. He was selected as interim deal to replace Stephen Bahls.2004 Jack Guttenberg is selected as the Law School’s dean. He previously was on the faculty at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University since 1980 and served as associate dean there from 1997 to 2004.2005 In response to a desire to improve the Law School graduates’ performance on the bar exam, Capital University Law School hires Professor Yvonne Twiss to create one of the nation’s first for-credit bar success preparation courses, Advanced Bar Studies. This program helps students prepare for the bar exam, focusing on test-taking techniques, a familiarization with the multiple choice test, Ohio essay questions and multi-state performance test questions. The program was so successful that is became a model copied by other law schools across the country.2007 Capital University Law School revamps and restructures its Academic Success Program, which eases the transition into law school. Law school requires different study methods than may have been successful at the undergraduate level, and the Academic Success Program was created to offers a wide range of information to help CapLaw students maximize their potential for achievement. 2008 Capital University Law School graduates place first in the state in terms of bar passage among first-time test takers. 2010 Richard Simpson is selected as the Law School’s new dean. Simpson previously had worked as a managing partner at Bricker & Eckler LLP, one of Ohio’s largest law firms.2011 The Law School completes its new strategic plan. The strategic priorities identified in the plan included promoting teaching excellence and innovation, being student supportive, impacting the professional legal community, fostering meaningful scholarship and establishing a foundation for continuity. Of the 27 strategic objectives identified to achieve those priorities, the top six were ensuring fiscal soundness and reserve; maintaining a strong bar passage rate; emphasizing practice-ready skills through experiential learning; benchmarking innovations by our teaching competitors and reviewing our curriculum to ensure an appropriate balance of doctrine and skills learning; enhancing career guidance and job search assistance efforts; and actively cultivating relationships with hiring organizations.2011 Capital University Law School launches the Small Business Clinic through the Legal Clinic. This program, which provides experiential learning opportunities to students interested in business law. The clinic provides legal assistance to Columbus based entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations that cannot afford to pay market rates for legal services. The Clinic helps its clients establish legal business entities such as limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations (both for-profit and nonprofit). It also assists its clients with other general legal issues that their business or organization is facing.2011 In light of the national home foreclosure crisis, Capital University Law School creates the Foreclosure Mediation Program. This program gives its students real-world experience while preparing homeowners who are preparing to go through foreclosure mediation. The program is created in cooperation with the Franklin County Foreclosure Mediation Preparation Project of the Court of Common Pleas, as well as other agencies.
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