October 4, 2018 at 11:39 am

Alumni News | OHIO Fostered Intellectual Curiosity in Judge Sean Gallagher

Ohio University alum Sean Gallagher, an Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals Judge, will share share his experiences with OHIO students on Pre-Law Day, Nov. 8 and 9.

He served as a felony prosecutor in Cuyahoga County from 1991-1997. He also specialized in “white collar” economic crime for three years. He also served as a Probation officer for four years as well as a Court Bailiff for six years.

In 1997 Gallagher started a judgeship that would last for five years on the Cleveland Municipal Court. In 2002 he was elected to serve on the Ohio Court of Appeals. Gallagher holds dual citizenship in the United States as well as the Republic of Ireland and is married to Margaret Gallagher with whom he has one son.

Gallagher earned a B.A. in Political Science from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University and a Juris Doctor from Cleveland Marshall College of Law.

Judge Sean Gallagher, portrait

Judge Sean Gallagher

Gallagher also participated in the Center for Law, Justice & Culture’s Summer Law & Trial Institute in July 2018.

What brought you to Ohio University?

My desire to obtain a higher education. I am the son of Irish immigrant parents. I have one brother. We were the first in our family to attend college.

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

I currently serve as a Judge in the Eighth District Court of Appeals for Ohio in Cleveland. I have been on that court since 2002. Previously I served as a trial judge in Cleveland Municipal Court. I also spent seven years as a felony prosecutor in Cleveland trying all types of cases from theft to murder.

My typical day consists of researching legal issues, reviewing briefs and cases, listening to arguments and finally working with my staff to draft and release case decisions and opinions. I also serve as an instructor with the Ohio Judicial College, where I teach other judges on legal topics.

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?

I never thought I would be a lawyer. It was a chance event that exposed me to the law. One summer on break from Ohio U. I got a job as a janitor in a courthouse. I worked the evening shift from 3pm-11pm cleaning courtrooms. As the summer progressed, I found myself coming in earlier and earlier to watch hearings before my shift. That’s how I first became interested in law.

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

Well, the best part of the position is you get to make the final decision. But with that opportunity comes a great deal of responsibility. You always have to strive to do the right thing. The best thing about the job are the arguments and the debates on the issues between well-reasoned parties.

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

Ohio University introduced me to a whole new world. It opened my eyes both socially and intellectually. It was a great environment for personal growth in the 1970s, as I’m sure it still is today.

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

While the disciple to attend class and study were important, it was the freedom to think about a future in law that was important. OHIO created the simple belief that I could actually do it.

Do you have any advice for students interested in law?

Expose yourself to it as much law as possible. Don’t harbor preconceptions about anything. Don’t think of yourself as a liberal or conservative. Rise above all that and think about law as a concept that transcends positions or labels.

What is your favorite Ohio University memory?

Swanky’s – a former nightclub at 34 South Court that was mystical, enticing, crazy, unpredictable, dangerous, captivating and transforming all at once.

Anything else you would like to share?

Learn law and live justice!

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