Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Perseverance Exemplified at Bar Admissions Ceremony

Among the 109 newly sworn in Ohio attorneys who took the oath on Monday at the Supreme Court of Ohio’s spring bar admissions ceremony, one northeast Ohio father of three might have the most uncommon route.

Patrick Warczak Jr. and his peers were at the Palace Theatre in Columbus for the first in-person bar admissions ceremony since November 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The biannual event is the last step in a multi-year journey that includes earning a law degree and passing the Ohio Bar Examination. Warczak, 55, was a nontraditional law student – a person who doesn’t immediately attend law school after receiving an undergraduate degree. He spent decades in marketing before studying law.

“The more I learned about the law, the more I wanted to learn. And the more I learned, the more I wanted to do [it as a career],” Warczak said.

The Kent resident got hooked after watching a television miniseries about the second U.S. president, John Adams. The country’s origins within law are what drew him to the idea of practicing.

“Our ancestors fought for freedom, for liberty, for the ability to create their own government that would be ruled by law where people could resolve their differences and disputes without the use of force,” Warczak said.

The oath of induction to the bar begins with new lawyers proclaiming their “support of the Constitution and the laws” of the United States and Ohio. As part of his keynote speech to the new attorneys, Justice R. Patrick DeWine asked Warczak and his peers to help others understand the rule of law – especially outside of a courtroom.  

“We live in a world in which many of those values that underly our constitution are questioned, and often misunderstood,” Justice DeWine said. “As you get out into the world, defend our constitutional values. Educate the public about them.”

Warczak’s personal interest in the law turned into four-year whirlwind. He took the Law School Admission Test with only weeks to prepare, and enrolled at the University of Akron School of Law, condensing a four-year program into three-and-a-half years. All the while working full-time and juggling his daily responsibilities to his family. Along with his studies, he engaged in extracurricular law school activities as a member of the moot court team, law review, and assisted in legal clinics.

“I didn’t just go to law school to go to law school. I did so to immerse myself in the law,” Warczak said.

As he was on the backstretch of law school last summer, his father, Patrick Sr., was diagnosed with leukemia. Supported by his wife, Tanneill, and his children – Patrick III, Dylan, and Brooke – Warczak went back to his native Wisconsin to care for his parents, managing their physical needs and legal matters amid their declining health.

“My father died on Father’s Day. Two months later, my mom died,” said Warczak of his mother, Gloria, who had been battling dementia.

Heartbroken, it would have been understandable for Warczak to put law school on hold. Instead, he relied on the work ethic he learned from his parents and the perseverance he gained from harsh Wisconsin winters.

“When you’re shoveling in a blizzard, just keep your head down and keep shoveling. Eventually, you’ll be done,” Warczak said.

Warczak survived the most difficult year of his life. Now, he continues learning as a lawyer. He’s working at a legal technology startup and getting guidance from a veteran attorney through the Supreme Court’s Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program. From those situations, he hopes to pass on life lessons to his children, so they can also pursue their passions, no matter when in life or what obstacles they face.

“At the end of the day, it’s about how hard you work and how good a person you are, and the rest of it will come,” Warczak said.