January 25, 2016 at 12:44 pm

CLJC Spotlights Coms Alum | Anderson, Chair on Board of Trustees at Ohio University

Center for Law, Justice & Culture Alumni Spotlight

Sandra J. Anderson serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Ohio University, having been appointed by Governor Strickland in 2007.  From August 2010 through June 2013, she was Associate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at The Ohio State University Office of Legal Affairs.

Sandra Anderson

Sandra J. Anderson

From 1977 to 2010, Sandy practiced law with the Columbus law firm, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, focusing on civil litigation. Anderson is a 1973 graduate of Ohio University (summa cum laude) and a 1976 graduate of Northwestern University School of Law (magna cum laude). Upon graduation from law school, she clerked for Judge George Edwards, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Anderson is Chair of the Equality Ohio Education Fund, a non-profit organization that advocates and educates to achieve fair treatment and equal opportunity for all Ohioans regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

She also serves on the board of The Legacy Fund of The Columbus Foundation. Past board service includes the Ohio State Bar Foundation, Life Success Seminars, Inc. and New Directions Career Center. She served on the Ohio State Bar Association Council of Delegates for several years. She is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

She was the first female president of the Columbus Bar Association and later served as president of the Columbus Bar Foundation. She served for six years on the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, including as Chair in her final year on the Board. She has served on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and as an adjunct professor at OSU’s Moritz College of Law, teaching Trial Advocacy.

What brought you to Ohio University?

My first visit to OHIO was when I was about 12 years old in the early 1960’s on “Little Sisters Weekend” as the guest of my cousin Karen. She was a member of the Marching Band before it became “The Marching Men,” when women were then excluded for some years. I remember staying in her dorm room at Lindley Hall, eating pizza, and thinking that college life was pretty darn awesome.

When I graduated from high school in 1969, Ohio University was the only place that I applied. I received a scholarship from the Forensics Team. As I recall, the scholarship was in the amount of $200, which was at that time a small fortune to my family.

What is your current occupation? Explain what you do in a typical day.

I am a retired lawyer. After graduating from Ohio University in 1973, I went on to Northwestern Law School. I have had three jobs since graduating from law school in 1976: (1) A one-year clerkship with a federal court of appeals judge in Cincinnati; (2) private practice of law with the Columbus-based law firm, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, where I was a trial attorney from 1977-2010; and (3) Associate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at The Ohio State University from 2010-2013.

How did you become interested in that field? Was there a particular topic or field of law that got you interested in it in the first place?

Going to law school and becoming a trial attorney were natural next steps after being on the Forensics Team at Ohio University for four years. I was also on the National Moot Court team at Northwestern Law School, so the court room (or getting ready for the court room) appeared to be my destiny.

What’s your favorite part of your position? What are you passionate about?

My favorite parts of being a lawyer include problem-solving, advocacy, teaching and service. My favorite all-time trial was when I successfully defended The Ohio State University and one of its world-renowned professors in a wrongful death case arising out of a high altitude paleoclimatology research program in the Himalayas. I have been blessed with the opportunity to teach law students (at OSU Law School as an adjunct professor) and other lawyers (through the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and various Continuing Legal Education programs). Perhaps my favorite year as a lawyer was during my service as the first woman to be President of the Columbus Bar Association. Among my most fascinating appointments was a six-year stint on the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Commissioners and Grievances and Discipline, the statewide entity charged with handling hearings and ruling on ethics violations against judges and lawyers.

How did your Ohio University experience prepare you for law school and shape your career path?

My experiences on the OHIO Forensics team were especially valuable in leading me to choose law and in helping me succeed in law school and beyond. For example, the Debate Team and individual events such as Extemporaneous and Impromptu Speaking taught me how to organize my thoughts and facts quickly and to present them in an articulate way — which was perfect training for tackling law school exams.

One of my professors arranged for me to visit with Katie Sowle, who was OHIO’s First Lady when I was in school. President Claude Sowle had graduated second in his law school class from Northwestern; and Mrs. Sowle had graduated first in that same class. I remember my personal visit with Mrs. Sowle in the living room at 29 Park Place, the president’s residence. I would then go on to Northwestern law school myself.

What do you think most important things you did as an undergrad to get you prepared for law school?

My experience on the Forensics team was the single most important thing I did that helped me prepare for law school. Also, taking courses such as Logic, Philosophy and Algebra helped me navigate the LSAT.

Do you have any advice for students interested in law?

Take courses that require critical thinking and writing—especially persuasive writing. The actual subject matter is not that important. More important is whether you are interested enough in the class to be enthusiastic about reading, thinking and writing about it. Develop disciplined study habits and earn the best grades you can, to maximize the chance of getting into law school and succeeding once you arrive.

What is your favorite Ohio University memory?

I have countless happy memories of OHIO and Athens. Among them: traveling with the Forensics Team to tournaments; singing loud songs on the road with my teammates; practicing our speeches to one another; celebrating during and after the trophy presentations; and just hanging out together on campus, becoming close friends and forever Bobcats.

Anything else you would like to share?

I am still building favorite Ohio University memories. I am just finishing my nine-year term on the OHIO Board of Trustees and just starting my first term on the OHIO Foundation Board.

I am such a proud Bobcat that my car license is an Ohio University logo plate that says “GO2OU.”

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