Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Ohio Bar’s First Remote Examinees Become Attorneys

In the unforgettable year of COVID-19, 741 test takers made history by closing 2020 as Ohio’s newest attorneys.

Successful applicants from the first remotely conducted Ohio Bar Examination took their oaths this week during the Ohio Supreme Court’s Bar Admissions Ceremony. Both the exam and the celebration were held through cyberspace, a first for the state.  

“Your countless hours of study are about to open a whole new world for you. Your journey as a lawyer begins today,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor declared from the Courtroom of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center.

The chief justice appeared in the Courtroom with her colleague Justice Melody Stewart, the keynote speaker. Other distinguished representatives from the legal community shared their words of wisdom and encouragement via video.  

“There is no doubt that you’ve had the most difficult experience in the history of bar exam takers, but through your spirit and determination, you have prevailed,” said University of Dayton School of Law Dean Andrew Strauss.

On top of a different testing process, the aspiring attorneys had to extend their preparation periods by six weeks as the exam was converted from in-person to virtual.

Those adjustments were just the latest sacrifice that’s become a way of life for these individuals seeking to practice law.

Milica Pavlovic, an Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law graduate, came to the United States from Serbia on a tennis scholarship as a 17-year-old.

Based on the limitations of that scholarship and her inability to receive federal financial assistance as an international student, she had to work multiple jobs as a student-athlete. As a law student, she held four separate jobs to help pay for school.

“It was not easy because I had so many things going on at the same time,” said Pavlovic. However, “playing tennis from a young age really helped me out,” she said. Her sport helped her “build that work ethic because I used to play tennis for five, six hours a day when I was a junior.”

Juggling multiple jobs as a law school student has its challenges. Deanna Thomas balanced not only school and work, but four children.

“Everyone just kind of went along with my journey,” said Thomas, a University of Akron School of Law alum and judicial clerk turned judicial attorney for the Akron Municipal Court.

“I didn’t even think about it. I just did what needed to be done,” she said.

Family and a support system are essential to the process in becoming a lawyer, especially during such an unusual time. Few know that like Tim Smith.

The patent engineer studied at Akron law school with his daughter, Sarah. She passed the bar exam the first time. He did not. Despite the disappointment, he persevered this time, and they celebrated.

“We wore our masks and tried to keep some distance, but it was just still a good time of sitting around, talking, and just kind of basking in the glow,” said Smith.

With hundreds of new entrants into the legal profession there are hundreds of different paths. While the roles and responsibilities are different, the basic principles remain universal.

“I just want to do my job excellently. I want to mentor and inspire. However, I can be of service to someone else, I want to do that,” Thomas said.