Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University
This Month @ Moritz

Charles C. Warner '70 Honored at Ohio State's Autumn Commencement

Charles C. WarnerThat he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa in the 60's comes as a surprise to many who know him. By nature a refined man, it is hard to imagine Charles C. Warner '70 in the midst of Nigeria' civil war. At the same time, it is seems perfectly appropriate that this natural leader would come of age solving problems and bringing order to chaos--skills that characterize his successful labor practice today.

Charlie, as his many friends call him, and wife Betsy were among the last people to be evacuated from Nigeria by road during the Biafran secession. It was the dramatic end to a two-and-a-half year stint as Peace Corps teachers following graduation from Yale and Radcliffe respectively. Their next stop was Columbus and Ohio State's College of Law.

Charlie excelled in moot court--no surprise given his quick mind and that resonant voice. In his second year of law school, he and partner Curt Griffith '70 won best brief honors at the national moot court competition in New York. By third year, Charlie was chief justice of the Moot Court Board of Governors.

Law school would end as dramatically as his Peace Corps experience with the 1970 riots that rocked O.S.U.'s campus and many others nationwide in the wake of the killings at Kent State. Consummate problem solvers, Charlie and Betsy, faced with an expiring lease, figured out how to move from campus in the middle of the fray.

Charlie and Betsy Warner with Sandra Day O'Connor
Charlie and Betsy Warner with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, center

They relocated to a home in Worthington where they remain to this day. It is where they raised their family: Peter, the bar exam baby, Andrew, and Elizabeth, known as Eliza. In the intervening years, they have enriched the cultural life of their community. Charlie plays clarinet in the Worthington Civic Band and has served on the boards of the Old Worthington Association, the Worthington Educational Foundation, and the Worthington Historical Society. A champion of culture in the larger community as well, Charlie recently served as board president of Opera Columbus and currently serves on the board of Chamber Music Columbus.

Although he contemplated practicing in Maine, Charlie chose instead a small Columbus firm that would eventually merge with and become Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur. Originally in the litigation department, Charlie moved to labor law when the department needed a litigator, a happy coincidence that would lead to Charlie becoming one of the nation's premier litigators and labor lawyers.

Charlie is a former management chair of the American Bar Association's Equal Employment Opportunity Committee and a former Columbus Bar Association president. He has served on the board of the Ohio Association of Civil Trial Lawyers. Charlie is a perennial entry in Best Lawyers in America and Who's Who in American Law. Were there a similar book for truly distinguished volunteer service to alma mater, he would deserve a special chapter.

A member of the College's National Alumni Advisory Council since 1994 and long-term chairman of the Awards Subcommittee, Charlie assumed the Council's chairmanship in the fall of 2002. Since then, he has taken the lead in creating the Robert J. Nordstom Designated Professorship. In record time, Charlie recruited 93 percent of Moritz law alumni at his firm, Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, to underwrite the professorship.

During the past few years, Charlie has put his firm at the disposal of the Moritz College of Law for key projects and initiatives. The firm contributes to Scholarship Weekend by hosting a reception for those admitted applicants the College is most anxious to enroll on the basis of their credentials. These and other targeted recruitment activities have resulted in consistently higher credentialed entering classes.

His firm has been a full participant in the Columbus Bar Association's Minority Clerkship Program, designed to enhance placement opportunities for Columbus minority law students, many of them from Moritz Law, who eventually join Porter Wright. As president of the Columbus Bar Association in 1991-1992, Charlie helped promote and expand this program. It has become a model for bar associations throughout the United States.

Charlie has served as the College's Alumni Society President, chaired a successful moot court reunion, served on the Dean Search Committee, and participated in a series of related activities too long to list. He is, in short, the College's "go to guy" for any project or leadership role that advances the College's goals. The Distinguished Service Award came as a surprise to no one, except perhaps Charlie.