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Advocates Circle Firms

Barkan Meizlish, LLP


Brian G. Miller Co., LPA


Bordas & Bordas, PLLC


Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC


Christian R. Patno


Crandall & Pera Law


Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers


Elk & Elk


Garson Johnson, LLC


Geiser, Bowman & McLafferty, LLC


The Gervelis Law Firm


Grieco Law


Kisling Nestico & Redick


Kitrick, Lewis & Harris Co.,. LPA


Leeseberg & Valentine


Leizerman & Associates, LLC


Lamkin, Van Eman, Trimble & Dougherty, LLC


Meyer Wilson Co., LPA


Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy Co., LPA


O'Connor Acciani & Levy, LPA


Rittgers & Rittgers


Robert J. Wagoner, Co., LLC


Rourke & Blumenthal


Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber, LLP


Slater & Zurz, LLP


Tittle & Perlmuter


Tzangas Plakas Mannos Ltd.


Young and McCarthy LLP




New to the practice of law? The Ab Initio Section is geared towards attorneys practicing 10 years or less who want to connect with others who are recent additions to the Bar. The Ab Initio Section serves as a forum for members to swap tricks, talk strategies, and connect with other OAJ members. The Section also holds regular member appreciation events that give you a place to mix and mingle with other Ohio trial lawyers in a relaxed social setting.

Section Chair Amy Herman | Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A.

Role Reversal: Insights from Jury Service
By: Amy Herman, Esq.
It is very rare that we are literally able to put ourselves in a juror’s shoes. As trial attorneys we conduct focus groups, retain jury consultants and devour articles on the latest jury psychology and trends, all in an effort to better understand the jurors we encounter in the courtroom.
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Practical Tips for Building Your Network
By: Amy Herman, Esq.
It is never too early to start building your network. As a new attorney, you have numerous demands on your time including learning the nuances of your area of law, building client relationships, and creating a rapport with other attorneys and staff at your firm, just to name a few. 

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Statute of Limitations 
Kevin Darnell, Esq.
As a new lawyer, it is important to know and apply the statutes of limitations applicable to your clients’ claims. As a new lawyer, it is easy to sit down and interview a new client and get caught up in how great their case sounds and forget about the statute of limitations that applies to their case, or that multiple statutes of limitations may apply to their case. 
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To Serve or Not To Serve: Is That Really The Question?
By: Robert Gresham, Esq.

Every year as we welcome a new class of lawyers to the profession, I think back to my own induction. More importantly I am moved to reflect on a portion of the Lawyer’s Creed we swore to uphold:
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Taking that First Hearing at the Industrial Commission
By: Kurt Young, Esq.
Twenty-four years ago I had, for me, the ultimate white knuckle experience. My boss walked into my office one afternoon in the fall, handed me a pile of files, and told me I was going to be handling my first set of hearings at the Industrial Commission in Cleveland. 
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Excessive force – Should You Take the Case?
By: Adam Gerhardstein, Esq.
Andrew Thomas borrowed the wrong car.  He was seventeen and wanted to cruise around town with his buddies, but the car was stolen.  Police officers recognized the car and followed him into a strip mall.  Andrew and his friends went into a candy store, and when they came out three police officers were running towards them.  Andrew froze in his tracks, holding an Icee in his hand.  Officer Parker grabbed him, lifted him off his feet, body-slammed him to the ground, and then kicked him in the ribs.  The Icee splashed everywhere as Andrew broke his fall with his hand, breaking his wrist, leading to surgery, and a permanent impairment.  Now Andrew is on the other end of your phone asking, “Can I sue the police?”  What do you say…
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On Jury Duty
By: Rhy Richards, Esq.
As trial attorneys, we remain the backwards sort of people who derive pleasure from the pressurepacked situation that is our clients arguing their cases in front of strangers we have never met and will likely never see again after trial. So much of what we can accomplish for our clients relies on the right to a trial by jury. 

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Mining for Justice: How to Identify Mass Tort Cases
By: Seth Schanher, Esq.

I didn’t always know I wanted to be an attorney.  I wasn’t one of those people.  I just knew I didn’t want to be a librarian and I was fairly certain my undergraduate degree in history wasn’t really going to do anything else for me.  So when my friend told me he was going to law school, I thought, “three more years of college fun AND I get to wear cool stylish suits when it’s all over…sign me up.”  Yeah, life planning wasn’t one of my strong points at the time.
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Common Pitfalls that Young Lawyers Should Avoid
By: Cory Britt, Esq.
As young lawyers—or perhaps, as lawyers in general—we often find ourselves in tough predicaments that, in hindsight, we could have handled differently or altogether avoided. No matter how many times I am advised by older and wiser people not to do something, I insist on trying things myself. This often puts me in the unenviable position of having to learn things the hard way. Do not be like me. Heed the caution of others who know better. Here are a few lessons that I have learned so far in the early stages of my legal career: 

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Using Technology to Advance Your Practice
By: Philip J. Leppla, Esq., & Miranda R. Leppla, Esq.
Technological advances and mobile/tablet legal apps cannot, and will not, ever replace the traditional requirements of the legal professional—dedication, hard work, persuasive writing, sweating the details, professionalism, ethics, or zealous representation of our clients, to name a few. Abraham Lincoln is correct that “a lawyer’s time and advice are his [or her] stock in trade”, and the tools available today can amplify our ability to provide clients with the best advice, as efficiently and effectively as possible.  
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Handling Experts and Using Ohio's Daubert Law to Your Advantage
By: Dustin Herman, Esq.
1. Ohio Trial Judges Are Gatekeepers.
2. Focus is on Methods Not Conclusions. 
3. It’s Not What You Know, But How You Know It. 
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Swear in the Witness: Deposition Tips for New Lawyers
 Kimberly Roeder, Esq.
Imagine you are three months into your first year of practice. You are sitting at your desk, looking up at your diploma and Ohio Supreme Court license hanging neatly on the wall of your office when a senior partner walks in and asks you to cover a deposition of a defendant driver on a liability dispute tomorrow morning in Lima, Ohio. You manage to utter a few words of agreement before the partner ceremoniously drops the file on your desk and darts out of the door. 

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A Starter's Guide to Opposing Counsel
By: Mandy A. Jamison, Esq.
You learned to live for days off a good cup of coffee, graduated law school, passed the bar, and started your illustrious career. So, why is being a new lawyer so hard? There are likely a variety of reasons. But, in my experience, one of the hardest things about being a new lawyer can be summed up in two words: opposing counsel. At times, it will seem you spend more time with opposing counsel than your own clients, or even your own family. So, it is crucial to develop good working relationships with opposing counsel as soon as possible. This will also assist you in building your reputation, which can assist in smoother dealings in the future.    

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The Best Advice I Received And The Advice I Would Give
By: Mark Abramowitz, Esq.
I am pretty sure that since law school you have been given lots of advice for how to advance your career. Some of it has been helpful, some of it has not. Either way, here is some more. The Power of the Listserv. My first piece of advice is how to get the most out of your OAJ membership. One of the benefits of being a member of OAJ is that you have access to various listerservs. For those of you who do not know what a listserv is, it was the precursor to social media. It was how large groups of people were able to ‘chat’ online before the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.... The concept is simple, a program collects people’s email addresses and when an email is sent to the program, it resends it to all the emails on the listserv. 

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My First OAJ Convention
By: Genevieve Campbell, Esq.
The day following my swearing in by the Ohio Supreme Court, I was set to attend my first official court appearance as an associate of the law firm for whom I was working.  I did not sleep the night prior to my scheduled appearance.  I was really nervous.  I had never actually spoken to a judge prior to that day, let alone been responsible for advocating for a client in open court.  I do not believe there is a single law school in existence that teaches its students how to actually practice law.  Although it was almost eight years ago, I remember that day with complete clarity today.  I was representing a VLP client on a lemon law issue, and I had undertaken the daunting task of asking the judge for a continuance because my firm was newly retained on the issue.

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Be Different
By Nathan Stuckey
As new lawyers, most of us focus intently on learning our chosen areas of law and understanding how the legal system can be used to benefit our clients.  While it is vital to know and understand the rules, one of the most important aspects of our professional development is often overlooked.   Whether your professional goals include rising to the top of your field or fighting tirelessly for the underdogs, you will be more effective and successful if you learn how to develop and manage your relationships with your clients.

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Young lawyers: Do not settle for mediocre, be outstanding.
Bruce Boerst, Esq., Toledo, OH
Ab initio (AB-i-NISH-ee-oh) is a Latin term meaning “from the beginning” and is derived from the Latin ab (“from”) + initio (“beginning”). In law school, for me at least, Latin phrases went in one ear and out the other. When asked to serve as the Chair of the Ab Initio Section, I thought it prudent to investigate the meaning of this particular Latin phrase. I challenge each and every one of you young lawyers to embrace this phrase. Embrace this opportunity.

Young attorneys have nothing but the road ahead. We have yet to make our mark upon this profession. We have yet to develop deeply-rooted credibility. We have yet to become outstanding. There is a myth that being smart, competent, and skilled are the keys to being an outstanding lawyer. I admit, with full confidence, I have not yet become outstanding. As a matter of fact, I have yet to figure out how to become outstanding. However, through OAJ, I have had the opportunity to rub elbows with outstanding attorneys. I’ve listened carefully to what they have said and I’ve patiently observed. 
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An Ethics Primer For New Lawyers 
By: Trent Stechschulte
   The Rules of Professional Conduct, once thought to be a matter of professional common sense, catch even the most seasoned attorneys off guard. As new lawyers, it is important that we continually familiarize ourselves with the Rules and how they apply to our everyday practice.
All lawyers must represent clients competently and diligently. A lawyer’s duty to perform competently extends to all parts of an attorney’s practice. One of the more common types of complaints lodged against all lawyers involves delay and neglect. Be organized and stay organized, return calls, have a calendar listing all your clients’ statutes of limitations and manage your trust account well.
A lawyer must not make false or misleading communications about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. (RPC 7.1) Ethics rules relating to advertising and communication include activity on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media provides countless opportunities for reputation building and networking, but it also can be a platform to inadvertently reveal confidential information or unintentionally form an attorney-client relationship. A common misstep is having outdated information on your firm’s website. Have a system in place to regularly update content because material on your websites may be accurate one day but misleading the next.
Subordinate lawyers should not blindly follow the directions of their supervisors without considering the Rules. If a supervisor asks a new lawyer to file a pleading that is clearly frivolous, the new lawyer cannot argue that he was “just following orders” and escape the Rules when he is sanctioned. Remember, unless the violation is a reasonable resolution to an arguable question of professional duty, new lawyers acting on behalf of their supervisor will be bound by the Rules. (RPC 5.2) A good practice tip is to sit down with your supervisor, mentor or contact the bar association and voice your concerns. 

Lessons from my First Jury Trial  
By: Jacqueline M. Mathews, Esq., Beachwood, OH
   As a 2012 graduate of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, I was lucky enough to sit second chair at a two-week long jury trial, which resulted in a verdict for our client, the plaintiff.  Being part of a trial taught me many valuable lessons which I have been asked to share with other new attorneys.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned was that you have to confront any weaknesses in your case directly.  (Even) if you ignore the weaknesses in your case, the jury will not.  Jurors are extremely perceptive. Confronting weaknesses establishes credibility with jurors because it demonstrates that no facts or information are being withheld from them. 
   It is not persuasive to over-dramatize facts.  Jurors are already skeptical of the authenticity of lawyers.  Attempting to exaggerate and conflate facts is transparent.  Any drama or acting will be apparent to the jurors.  Being overly dramatic conveys to jurors that you underestimate their ability to differentiate your position from the actual facts.  This will cause an attorney to lose credibility throughout the trial. 
   Another important lesson was consistency.  We had a strong theory which we reinforced throughout every part of our case, from jury selection through closing argument.  Giving jurors multiple theories can be confusing.  Multiple theories also result in having less time to develop each theory completely.  I believe that remaining consistent throughout the entire trial was beneficial to our case.Those are a few of the many lessons I learned during my first trial experience. I hope these observations will be help to any new attorneys getting ready for their first trial.  Trials are one of the more interesting, stressful, and fun parts of litigation, and being a part of one was an invaluable experience.
The Ab Initio section will host its inaugural New Lawyers Training (NLT) CLE sessions on November 7-8, 2013.  It has been a personal goal to revamp the NLT sessions in order to provide top-notch instruction by some of our most successful trial attorney members.  Additionally, we are going to bring in some speakers who are outside of the practicing attorney sphere, such as judges and medical professionals to discuss their interactions with our membership and ways to improve our skills.  It is my hope that we can continue to sharpen our skills and strengthening our position as Ohio’s strongest legal bars.  
   I have come to really appreciate what OAJ does as an organization and how it enables not only us new lawyers, but our veteran, battle-tested members to share resources and continue to develop techniques and strategies to counter the barrage from the defense.  That is why the NLT session is so practical for the OAJ Ab Initio members.  Every day I receive some sort of solicitation from the OSBA or some other organization offering New Lawyer Training.  If you take a moment to read further, about 90% of the training sessions are taught by defense attorneys who likely have never seen the inside of a courtroom!  Furthermore, what use is it for trial attorneys to be indoctrinated from the defense perspective?  I say none.  I am hopeful that those in attendance at the Winter Convention will appreciate the efforts put in by Winter Convention committee members who put together an outstanding panel of speakers who will provide insight and application to our practices.



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