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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

LAW - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

LAW. Cleveland at the turn of the 19th century was a frontier outpost of American law. By the late 20th century it had become one of the nation's most significant legal communities. The city gained, and retained, prominence in the law because of a potent mixture of local variations of national trends and distinctive developments. The city's legal history falls into 3 major periods, corresponding roughly to comparable eras in American legal history: the formative era, 1800-70; the industrial era, 1870-1930; and the modern era, 1930-present. Within each era, examining courts, lawyers, and illustrative cases, laws, and individuals demonstrates the interaction of social, economic, and legal change. In the industrial era especially, Clevelanders carved out a distinctive place in the American legal system.

The formative era (1800-70) began before statehood, with the first legal officials. Beginning with JAMES KINGSBURY†, local voters selected justices of the peace, administrative and judicial officers who performed marriages, settled brawls, laid out roads, and signed pollbooks. SAMUEL HUNTINGTON†, and ALFRED KELLEY†, who arrived in 1801 and 1810 respectively, are credited with beginning the Cleveland Bar. Huntington and Kelley engaged in civil and criminal litigation, drawing wills and other legal documents, collecting debts, and giving commercial advice. In 1810, when Cuyahoga County was formed, the state legislature authorized the creation of a court of common pleas to be run by elected judges (see CUYAHOGA COUNTY GOVERNMENT). The court, the city's most important legal forum throughout the era, had countywide authority in civil, criminal, and chancery jurisdiction. It consisted of 1 presiding judge and 3 associate judges until constitutional changes in 1851. Initially, the colonial tradition of lay (non-legally trained) judges continued, as state law required only that the presiding judge be "learned in law." The court docket quickly filled with the troubles of a small agricultural community--drunkenness, violations of liquor license laws, land boundary squabbles, assault and battery complaints, and small business disputes. With increased mercantile activity after the completion of the OHIO AND ERIE CANAL, commercial litigation added to the burden.

Efforts at judicial relief came in 2 forms: more courts and more judges. Clevelanders launched what would be recurrent efforts for judicial reform that never quite eased the burdens of the bench. In 1847 Cleveland became the second Ohio city to get a superior court. Holding concurrent civil and chancery but not criminal jurisdiction with the common pleas court, the superior court was the city's first specialized tribunal. But it succumbed to statewide judicial reform in 1851, which, with the aid of Cleveland lawyer RUFUS P. RANNEY†, significantly rearranged local courts. The town was, placed in one of 9 new Ohio common pleas court districts. Judicial specialization began as well, with a constitutional authorization to confer the common pleas probate jurisdiction in a separate tribunal. The probate court, run by 1 elected judge, dealt with questions of inheritance, guardianship, incompetency, and other testamentary issues.

The reforms only temporarily eased civil litigation; the traditional forms of dispensing criminal justice no longer sufficed. Since 1836 the mayor had had jurisdiction over minor offenses. The mayor's court, along with justices of the peace, who continued to hear petty criminal cases and initiate criminal complaints, formed the first layer of
an increasingly intricate municipal legal order. Throughout the era, laypersons such as GEORGE HOADLEY† held the offices of justices of the peace. A police court, created in 1853 to deal with complaints about CRIME, replaced the mayor's bench when voters selected John Barr as Cleveland's first police magistrate. Barr witnessed a steady stream of cases involving minor breaches of criminal code, such as drunkenness and disorderly conduct. He also acted as the city's chief commercial regulator, since Cleveland, like other communities, still used criminal laws to address problems such as selling unwholesome meat. Most cases began and ended in the police court, choking off one supply of common pleas cases.

By the early 1850s, interstate trade and Great Lakes maritime commerce disputes landed in the jurisdiction of federal courts. Litigation soon overwhelmed the state's lone federal district court, as it had Cleveland's courts. City attorneys, led by transplanted New Yorker HIRAM WILLSON†, lobbied for a division of the state into 2 federal districts. They succeeded in 1853, and secured the seat of the northern district for Cleveland. In 1855 Pres. Franklin Pierce rewarded Willson, who had practiced law in Cleveland since 1833, with appointment as the first judge of the Northern District of Ohio. He served until 1866, presiding over a docket dominated by admiralty cases.

Cleveland's increasingly intricate judicial structure reflected not only rapid mid-century economic and social growth but also the fact that local courts and lawyers were becoming indispensable to the community. Although Cleveland's first practitioner, Huntington, had left in 1807, by 1814 the village had about 7 attorneys. Out of necessity, lawyers and judges formed a separate community during the early years. Traveling together "riding circuit," they ranged over the counties of the WESTERN RESERVE, stopping at county seats to hold court, with lawyers dividing up clients and roles. As settlers streamed into northern Ohio, more Cleveland attorneys stayed in town. In fact, the city became a magnet for the bar, with about 46 attorneys by 1837, as the canal-induced economic surge continued. The vast majority of attorneys learned their craft, as apprentices to established practitioners. Their training mixed clerical work, legal research, and client counseling. More significantly, in a period in which the bar (and the public) assumed that lawyers proved their professional competence in practice, not by meeting admission requirements, apprenticeship also encouraged young lawyers to test their abilities. The Cleveland Bar was dominated by New Englanders until the middle of the century, when locally born attorneys became, and thereafter remained, a numerical majority. Attorneys changed firms frequently, and though a few of them concentrated on particular issues such as property transactions, most practices mixed civil and criminal representation. The affinity of lawyers for politics was fast becoming a permanent feature of American political life in Cleveland and other communities. Connecticut native SHERLOCK ANDREWS† won acclaim in Cleveland as an advocate with a compelling style that mixed logic, sarcasm, wit, ridicule, and pathos. He and others turned courtroom appeal into political capital. Andrews held a range of offices: first president of the CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL, county prosecuting attorney, member of the national House of Representatives, judge of the short-lived superior court, and member of state constitutional conventions in 1850 and 1873. In between each position, he practiced his profession. Although most Cleveland lawyers did not have Andrews's range of activities or success, the bar thrived. Lawyers convinced their fellow citizens that they had unique abilities to tackle a range of problems involving business, government, and PHILANTHROPY.

The strength of the Cleveland Bar became evident during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Since 1820, when slavehunter Joseph Keeler had been convicted of kidnapping, the city had been drawn into the battle over fugitive slaves. The opening of the canal and the emergence of northern Ohio as a hotbed of ABOLITIONISM intensified the problem; local sentiment began to be at odds with national law. The 1859 OBERLIN-WELLINGTON RESCUE Case epitomized these tensions. The trial and conviction of Oberlin residents for violating the hated 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, in Hiram Willson's federal district courtroom, exposed concerns that generally remained below the surface. When the defendants secured release in legal maneuvering, the PLAIN DEALER, a partisan Democrat paper, declared: "So the government has been beaten at last, with law, justice, and facts on its side; and Oberlin, with its rebellious higher-law creed, is triumphant." The bitter controversy suggested that the bar's local success brought with it high expectations of the law.

The war's turmoil and its aftermath increased the legal system's problems. In part, the mid-century decades merely witnessed a continuation of earlier developments. Escalating litigation forced the, addition of a third common pleas judge in 1869. The passage of a federal bankruptcy act in 1867 led to the appointment of Cleveland lawyer Myron R. Keith as registrar. Keith struggled with the aftershocks of the massive business failures of the war years until the act's repeal in 1878. But new issues signaled the end of the formative era of Cleveland's legal history. Postwar economic growth began to turn the city into a center of INDUSTRY, with attendant urban development and the growth of an increasingly ethnically and racially diverse population (see IMMIGRATION AND MIGRATION). New problems began to populate court dockets and attorney consulting rooms. Similarly, the presence of JOHN P. GREEN†, an African American from North Carolina who began to practice law in Cleveland in 1872, indicated that pluralism would affect the profession as well as its cases. A new period began--the industrial era, 1870-1930.

Successful, at times pioneering, adaptation to industrialism made the Cleveland bench and bar a more integral part of the city. It also ensured that, as before, the legal order would encourage Clevelanders to rely on judges and lawyers to deal with a bewildering range of problems. Bulging caseloads again produced judicial reorganization. Initial solutions took the traditional form of increased judgeships and new intermediate tribunals. Emblematic was the re-creation of a superior court in 1873, in yet another attempt to reduce the common pleas backlog. Like its predecessor, the new court had a purely civil docket but excluded divorce and insolvency. Even so, the 3-judge court heard over 2,500 actions in its brief 24-month existence. It succumbed to another tactic as bankruptcies, the economic wake of the vicious Panic of 1873, flooded the courts. Four additional common pleas judges joined the Cleveland bench in an 1875 attempt at relief. Yet neither the new judges nor complementary changes, such as the 1884 creation of new intermediate appellate courts could keep up with the massive litigation demands.

An 1886 attempt to professionalize the justices of the peace, though, suggests an emerging approach to legal reform that would dominate the bench and bar throughout the industrial era. Since the city's founding, justices of the peace did not require legal training; the honorary office depended on fees for payment. There had been periodic complaints by Cleveland lawyers about the behavior and lack of expertise of certain justices of the peace. These concerns intensified as members of new political groups won election to the office. Ethnic prejudice combined with an emerging sense of legal professionalism to promote reform. When efforts aimed at creating a municipal court to replace the justices of the peace failed, critics secured legislation that abolished the fee system and replaced it with a yearly salary. Supporters hoped the new arrangement would make the office less attractive, reduce the monetary incentives to, stir up business, and professionalize the disposition of petty disputes.

Industrialism had as transforming an effect on the practice of law as it did on its use. Lawyers found themselves confronted with an array of new questions, from the organization of giant national corporations such as the STANDARD OIL CO. (OHIO) to the rights of pedestrians injured by street railways. The issues strained the bar's knowledge and skill. At the same time, earlier successes made the law an inviting vocation for those who sought wealth, power, and change. The Cleveland Bar swelled from 103 attorneys in 1870 to 610 by 1900, with lawyers from differing ethnic and religious groups who pursued increasingly diverse practices.

Specialization and organization dominated the bar's adaptation to industrialism. More leaders of the bar conceived of themselves as experts, specially trained in schools of law to tackle specific industrial problems. The most dramatic examples come from the rise of corporate attorneys and corporate law firms, which assumed the leadership of their profession in cities like Cleveland. HOYT, DUSTIN, & KELLEY was one such firm in Cleveland. When JAMES HOYT†, Hermon Kelley, and Alton Dustin found themselves consistently counseling businesses on issues such as corporate organization, stockholder rights, bond services, and patent law, the trio hired more attorneys and trained them specifically in such matters. The press for specialization permeated the city's bar, in areas such as criminal practice, personal-injury cases, and admiralty law. Specialties emerged out of the technicalities of other areas, such as patent law, and because of the undesirable nature of some forms of practice, such as criminal law. Corporate attorneys became the legal elite in a new professional hierarchy. One such lawyer, FRANK HADLEY GINN†, was reported to be an officer or on the board of more companies than anyone else in Ohio. Solo practitioners, often from immigrant backgrounds, who engaged in criminal or personal-injury law, became the law's lower class.

Specialization also encouraged local diversity in the bar's styles of practice and among practitioners. Mary P. Spargo is credited with being Cleveland's first female lawyer. After apprenticing in the office of Morrow & Morrow, she gained admittance to the bar in 1885. Yet launching a practice proved difficult. A statute denied women the right to be notary publics, one usual source of fees for new attorneys. And most men apparently refused to accept a woman lawyer: not until 1911 did the CLEVELAND BAR ASSN. (CBA) admit a woman, GERTRUDE HANDRICK†. Discrimination also greeted Jews (see JEWS & JUDAISM), Catholics (see CATHOLICS, ROMAN), POLES, AFRICAN AMERICANS, and others who tried to join the Cleveland Bar.


Such ethnic and gender tensions also originated in a larger debate over professional standards. Lawyers and lay people in Cleveland and other communities struggled to reconcile traditional views of the bar with the period's changes. Elite local lawyers provided 2 main solutions: new bar organizations and new forms of legal training. The Cleveland Bar had gathered at annual banquets and other meetings since before the Civil War, but in 1869 leading local attorneys took a more professional approach, forming the Cleveland Law Library Assn. A repository for the city's first full collection of codes, decisions, and treatises, the association promoted the "science of the law," a vision of the law as a neutral, autonomous body of rules that could be mastered only by dedicated practitioners. In another step toward an emerging professional ideal, these attorneys formed the Cleveland Bar Assn. (CBA) in 1873. One of the first local bar organizations in the country, the CBA pledged to maintain the "honor and dignity" of the profession, champion "legal and judicial reforms," and resolutely avoid religion and politics. It quickly became the city's self-appointed arbiter of professional standards, fighting for reforms such as state bar examinations and codes of ethical practice and policing the bench and bar for corruption. In 1880 the city's legal elite also took the lead in creating the Ohio State Bar Assn.

Education became a crucial issue in the bar's professionalization campaign, with the university-affiliated law school as the new tool. Based on scientific instruction through the study of appellate cases, law schools reinforced the professional image. Though several proprietary schools had opened in Cleveland (such as the LAKE ERIE SCHOOL OF LAW), the creation of a law school at Western Reserve Univ. (WRU, see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY.) in 1892 signaled the start of modern professional education in the city. As the state and local bar began to demand college preparation, 3 years of legal training, and formal entry examinations, legal education became a means of regulating access to the bar.

As the reform effort called "progressivism" established a firm hold in Cleveland during the 1890s, law became both a target of and a tool for change. Perhaps no issue so clearly reveals the contradictory impulses of the age than the great street railway fight of 1901-08. The battle began when Mayor TOM L. JOHNSON† tried to gain municipal control of Cleveland's street railways and institute a 3-cent fare. The companies resisted, claiming the seizure violated their property rights. The resulting legal warfare pitted a team of reform attorneys headed by Cleveland law director NEWTON D. BAKER† against a team of corporate lawyers directed by WILLIAM SANDERS† of SQUIRE, SANDERS AND DEMPSEY. The tenor of the legal confrontations was evident in Baker's, characterization of opposing counsel as "case hardened, class conscious plutocrats, with splendid abilities but with human sympathy reduced to a minimum." The "traction war," as it was called, came to an end when federal judge ROBERT WALKER TAYLER† engineered a compromise that gave Baker the victory. Tayler set up a sliding scale that limited trolley-line profits, ordered low fares, and gave city council jurisdiction over railway operations.

The traction war was merely one skirmish in a larger campaign to use law to adjust to the realities of industrialism. The burst of reform included a major overhaul of the city's courts that produced innovative new means of tackling urban problems. The city's juvenile-justice movement, one of the first in the nation, sprang from the conviction of reformers such as Baker and YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSN. (YMCA) leader GLEN SHURTLEFF† that children needed special legal treatment not offered in the adult courts. First as part of the court of insolvency and then as an independent tribunal, the juvenile court established procedures to deal with both neglected and delinquent youths (see CUYAHOGA COUNTY JUVENILE COURT). The addition of paid probation officers, extended jurisdiction, and statewide adoption of the reform in 1913 testified to the strength of the city's effort. The central assumption, that particular problems ought to be addressed by specialized courts, spread. For example, alarmed at rising divorces, the city's common pleas judges created a special domestic-relations bureau (1920), which later became the CUYAHOGA COUNTY DOMESTIC RELATIONS COURT. Similarly, new municipal boards arose to regulate health and safety matters formerly left to the criminal law.

Ever-present concerns about overcrowded common pleas courts, fears about police and judicial corruption, and determinations that justices of the peace were ill-suited to handle complex urban problems led to the creation of a municipal court in Cleveland. A successful campaign resulted in legislation in 1911 and limits on justices of the peace in the state's 1912 constitutional convention. Cleveland's municipal court began operation in 1912 as the city's main criminal-law trial court, with jurisdiction over minor civil matters as well. The court became a national model. Its probation unit, one of the first in the nation, pioneered in the use of psychiatric testing. The court's most significant innovation came in 1913 with the creation of the country's first conciliation procedure. Clevelanders embroiled in minor civil disputes could dispense with attorneys and have a judge work out a voluntary compromise. The reform soon spread to other major cities. The municipal court proved such a success that its original 5 judges had expanded to 16 by 1924.

Newspaper stories on judicial corruption led local civic and professional organizations to request that the, CLEVELAND FOUNDATION sponsor a study of the city's criminal-justice system. The result, the CLEVELAND SURVEY OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE directed by Harvard Law School's Roscoe Pound and Felix Frankfurter, became a national model for the study of urban criminal justice. A comprehensive investigation, the study revealed inefficiency, lack of training, and corruption among court personnel and criminal defense lawyers. The findings led to prosecutions and a few reforms; yet, Clevelanders could take some solace from the American judicature's 1922 determination that the city had the best trial court in the nation. Moreover, the study solidified the Cleveland Bar Assn.'s determination to advise voters on the qualifications of those running for judgeships by endorsing candidates who met the association's criteria, beginning in 1922. Often controversial, the endorsements reinforced the organized bar's attempt to take politics out of law by convincing Clevelanders that a set of specific professional traits existed and could be measured by other lawyers.

Professional tendencies toward specialization, organization, and diversity continued unabated. A series of consolidations created a number of firms that would dominate the city's bar late into the century. Squire, Sanders & Dempsey (est. 1890) epitomized the process. Bringing together a variety of skills from courtroom advocacy to business creation and office organization, the firm offered an expanding list of corporate clients specific services. By the late 1920s, it employed around 40 lawyers.

Those attorneys excluded from the corporate elite formed their own organizations. The firm of HAHN, LOESER & PARKS had its origins in exclusionary policies that barred its Catholic and Jewish founders from major firms. By the 1920s the city could count a number of African American and ethnic law firms. Though they often mirrored the city's leading firms in their organization and in the business and cultural activities of their members, they generally occupied the lower rungs of the Cleveland Bar's professional hierarchy. Diversity characterized practitioners and legal roles, as well. In 1904 BENJAMIN NICOLA† became Cleveland's first attorney of Italian ancestry. By 1919 the city's Italian newspapers listed 12 lawyers. In 1920 FLORENCE ALLEN† won election as the city's first female judge. She later broke gender barriers in both state and federal courts. As the members of more and more groups joined the Cleveland Bar, the roles opened to lawyers grew, represented in DANIEL MORGAN†'s career. A Harvard-trained lawyer, Morgan grew disillusioned with practice in a major firm and turned toward civic reform and politics. After serving in various offices, he became Cleveland's city manager in 1930. Such administrative positions in urban government became a new vocation for lawyers. WALTER T., DUNMORE† exemplifies another new opportunity, law school professor. Dunmore, trained at WRU's law school, joined its faculty in 1905 and became dean in 1911. A critic of American legal education, Dunmore championed reforms from legal aid to more rigorous law school curriculums.

By the 1920s Cleveland's courts and lawyers had successfully met the challenges of industrialism. Pres. Woodrow Wilson's selection of Newton Baker as his secretary of war and JOHN CLARKE† as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was perhaps the most public evidence of the prominence of the Cleveland Bar.

The Depression ended one period in Cleveland's legal history and began another--the modern era, 1930-present. Plant closings, layoffs, bank failures, and bankruptcies created a vicious downward economic spiral. Except for the Civil War, the years 1930-40 are the only ones in the city's history in which the number of lawyers fell. The 1,219 lawyers and judges in 1930 dwindled to 985 in 1940. And as the economy crumbled, the courts overflowed. Foreclosures had risen so dramatically by 1935 that the common pleas judges hired a special referee for them. However, lawyers and judges, entrenched in the city's social and economic life, carried much of the local responsibility for dealing with the Depression. As a result, the 1930s became a transition era.

Clevelanders turned to attorney HAROLD BURTON† to guide them through the Depression as mayor, for 3 terms beginning in 1935. He fought for federal relief funds and brought labor and business to negotiating tables. Other lawyers tackled a host of problems in the troubled city. EDGAR HAHN† and William Thomas took the lead in untangling the jumble of banking problems while HAROLD CLARK† ensured the survival of the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY. In each case, lawyerly skill and the bar's broad definition of its social and professional responsibilities ensured that attorneys would figure prominently in Cleveland's attempt to deal with the crisis.

The Depression posed new challenges. HARRY PAYER†, a renowned Cleveland trial lawyer, left his practice to serve in the administration of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt. He exemplified opportunity, combining private practice with service in the expanding national administrative system. The tendency of Roosevelt's New Deal to turn problems such as labor relations and the regulation of securities over to administrative agencies created new bodies of law and new roles for Cleveland corporate law firms. Corporate practice became more varied, and federal regulatory law more important. World War II accentuated these trends. For example, when Jones, Day & Reavis (see JONES, DAY, REAVIS & POGUE) was formed in 1939, its 43 lawyers made it one of the city's largest firms. Even so, the firm had to open a branch office in Washington in, 1946 to handle its clients' regulatory matters. The label "Washington lawyer" arose to distinguish this new corporate practice from the "Wall St. lawyer."

Regulatory changes created professional tensions as well as opportunities. Newton Baker, for example, became a national leader of the professional opposition to the New Deal. Though many lawyers shared Baker's views, the Cleveland Bar had become too diverse to speak with one voice. Other leading lawyers, such as former justice John Clarke, defended the regulatory changes. And in 1937 a new professional association, the CLEVELAND CHAPTER OF THE NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD, was begun by lawyers who sought an alternative to the corporate-dominated bar associations. The guild championed many New Deal measures and issues, such as civil liberties and civil rights. Amid the changes of the era, continuities remained. More judges and more specialized courts continued to be the city's answer to crowded dockets. Common pleas courtrooms multiplied as the number of judges rose from 15 in 1929 to 19 in 1955, 24 in 1965, and 34 in 1986. Common pleas judge William Thomas, later appointed to the federal bench, even won a national reputation in the 1950s for his use of pretrial procedures to clear his congested court. Similar growth occurred in the municipal court, as did specialization. A special traffic court developed as the judicial response to the rise of automobiles. Often presided over by MARY GROSSMAN†, who became the nation's first woman municipal court judge (1923), the traffic court perpetuated the conclusion that special problems needed special tribunals.

Judicial attempts to deal with family problems provide clear evidence of that continuing reality. Led from 1926-60 by Judge HARRY EASTMAN†, a national authority on juvenile justice, the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court became more specialized: it became an independent tribunal in 1934, created the nation's first juvenile court psychiatric clinic, and added a department of child support. When new theories of juvenile care emerged in the 1960s, emphasizing the legal rights of the young, the court added new branches dealing with probation and intake procedures. The number of juvenile court judges grew from 1 in 1930 to 5 in 1980. Parallel developments occurred in the courts that dealt with adult family problems. Though a bureau of the common pleas court oversaw divorces, by the 1950s Cuyahoga was the only large Ohio county without a specialized domestic-relations court. Legislative action in 1959 ended the anomaly, creating 2 judicial positions. By the 1980s the Div. of Domestic Relations had grown into 4 departments: the Family Conciliation Service, Legal Department, Department of Investigation, and Bureau of Child Support. One Cleveland judge, SAMUEL SILBERT†, had become a national domestic-relations authority and one of the most popular judges in the city.

Efforts continued to bridge, the perceived gap between law and justice. In 1960 the city's LEGAL AID SOCIETY OF CLEVELAND ceased relying on outside lawyers and hired its own staff. The society expanded rapidly as a result of federal funds. Its staff mushroomed from 16 in 1966 to 66 in 1970. Legal aid also became specialized. The society had a Legal Reform Section, and by 1978 its civil division included a Family Unit, an Older Persons Div., and a program that ran group homes for the mentally retarded. In 1976 the society finally won a 60-year battle to create a local public defender's office, which, by 1983, employed 33 lawyers and handled 4,200 cases a year.

The most dramatic examples of successful specialization and organization during these years came from Cleveland's corporate bar. While the city's business corporations closed and contracted, its major law firms flourished. They hired more lawyers for increasingly intricate legal problems, such as labor law, and new divisions were created to handle issues such as health law. CALFEE, HALTER & GRISWOLD ballooned from 10 lawyers in 1950 to 22 in 1962 and 100 in 1985. The pressure was intense, too. THOMPSON, HINE & FLORY, which had prided itself on growth from within, changed its policy and absorbed other firms to increase numbers and services. Firms also continued to expand geographically: as businesses moved out of Cleveland, their law firms followed. Cleveland became the headquarters of some of the nation's largest law firms. By 1985 Squire, Sanders & Dempsey had spread its 320 attorneys in offices across the nation and in several foreign cities. Its internal bureaucracy included a system of managers and committees that replicated its corporate clientele.

Successful adaptation enabled corporate firms to retain their leadership of the Cleveland Bar in status and imagery. Smaller firms copied their organization and vied to join their ranks. Most law students considered corporate employment the measure of professional success, as did their law schools, which now had a monopoly on legal training. Even so, the modern bar's diversity continued as well. Jane Picker and Lizabeth Moody, professors at the CLEVELAND-MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL, created the WOMEN'S LAW FUND, INC. (1972), the first law firm in the nation to specialize in sex-discrimination cases. At the same time, legal clinics like the national Hyatt Legal Services Co. emerged: low-cost, high-volume offices that provided standardized services such as divorce representation and will drafting.

The increasing range of legal practice, characteristic of the bar since the advent of industrialism, also had sources in the explosion of attorneys in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Law schools in Cleveland and around the nation expanded as applications flooded in; the national pool of law students grew from 68,562 in 1962 to a peak of about 126,000 in 1977. Corporate firms began to hire Jews, Catholics, and, blacks. Jones Day hired its first woman attorney, Naoma Stewart, in 1960; she became the firm's first female partner. Cleveland's first African American mayor, Carl Stokes, came from the bar and later joined its bench (see MAYORAL ADMINISTRATION OF CARL B. STOKES).

A review of select leading cases in the era suggests the range of issues that challenged the city's attorneys. Unlike other communities, in the late 1940s and early 1950s local attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild and the Cleveland Bar Assn. organized representation for those accused of subversion under the Smith Act. About the same time, the city's bar became embroiled in the SHEPPARD MURDER CASE, which ultimately led to rulings more explicitly defining press and individual rights. Similar landmark decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court originated in Cleveland, such as MAPP V. OHIO (1961) dealing with the seizure of evidence, and JACOBELLIS V. OHIO (1964), dealing with the definition of obscenity.

By the 1980s, Cleveland courts and lawyers had compiled a long and often illustrious history. Lawyers, judges, and courts all played a large role in shaping the city. Clevelanders have turned to the bench and bar to resolve disputes, furnish municipal leaders, and provide attractive vocations. The city, in turn, has had a dramatic impact on the bench and bar.

Michael Grossberg

Case Western Reserve Univ.

Brady, Thomas J. The First 100 Years, A History of the Cleveland Bar Association (1973).

Kennedy, James Harrison, and Day, Wilson M., eds. The Bench and Bar of Cleveland (1889).

Neff, William B., ed. The Bench and Bar of Northern Ohio (1921).

Last Modified: 08 Dec 1997 10:22:23 AM

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