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

The Vorys Family and Moritz: An Established Tradition

Today Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease's 360 attorneys represent clients ranging from some of the world's largest companies to individuals and small businesses involving virtually every legal subject. The firm's history is linked to various members of the Vorys family who have witnessed the shaping of its reputation.

Arthur I. Vorys and William Howard Taft
Arthur I. Vorys and
William Howard Taft

Arthur I. Vorys, one of the four founders, was forced to take up a different profession after injuring his hand in a milling accident. The Lancaster, Ohio native was a man with a voracious appetite for reading, but never attended college. Rather, he studied law in the office of his uncle. After several years of self study and apprenticeship under his uncle, he stood before three Ohio Circuit Court judges and passed the oral examination necessary to become an attorney.   

Arthur practiced in Lancaster, later serving as Ohio Superintendent of Insurance for several years before joining with the other three founding partners in the creation of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease in 1909.   

Among his many political and charitable pursuits, Arthur served as a member of the Republican National Committee and was the eastern campaign manager for William Howard Taft in his successful campaign for the presidency.

Webb I. Vorys '17
Webb I. Vorys '17

Though the four original partners set the foundation, Webb I. Vorys, '17, established the traditions leading to the eminent position of the firm. One of Arthur's four sons, Webb was the first student in the history of The Ohio State University College of Law to graduate with a straight A average. After graduating, he left to serve overseas in World War I, as did all four of Arthur's sons. In 1935, at age 43, Webb became the leader of the firm upon the death of its last founder, Lowry Sater.

A brilliant scholar and meticulous legal mind with tireless devotion to the profession, Webb defined the overarching vision that guides the firm to this day: "To instill and retain harmony and respect among the partners, to employ only the best and most talented young lawyers, to ennoble them with a high sense of personal worth and responsibility, and to do these things with grace, and, above all, with unselfishness and generosity."

Webb considered the law an imperfect but practical and useful system. Based on his keen observations and his love and study of law, philosophy, and virtually all the humanities, he reasoned that mere humans lack the wisdom to be just, but lacking that wisdom, they have the intelligence to formulate an equitable way of settling disputes. Webb also introduced to the Vorys firm a concept of cross-practice teamwork that values diversity and collegiality which forms the basis of the firm's operating style.

Arthur I. Vorys '49
Arthur I. Vorys '49

He strongly believed the Vorys attorneys had a responsibility to their community. Himself a volunteer counsel and trustee to Children's Hospital for forty years, Webb fully expected every attorney at the firm to give back to the community through pro bono work or other forms of volunteerism. This tenet remains solidly in place in the firm today.

Webb's son, Arthur I. Vorys (Art) '49, decided to follow in his father's footsteps and attended The Ohio State University College of Law after returning from service in World War II. Though he was admitted to Harvard, he chose to remain in Columbus with his family, confident he would get a first-rate legal education at OSU. He commuted from the family home in Gahanna to the law school, which was then located in Page Hall, now home to the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy. "Our roots are here. People in Columbus are very solid, good people," Art says.

Webb Vorys '85
Webb I. Vorys '85

Art's son, Webb I. Vorys '85, also a partner with the firm, concentrates his practice in the areas of general business, commercial and real estate law. With an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College, Webb initially tried his hand in banking, but after two years he decided to follow his father's example and earn a law degree from Ohio State. A former Ohio State Law Journal executive editor, his fondest memory from law school is meeting his future wife, classmate Elizabeth Flynn '85, among the student lockers in the fall of his second year.

The younger Webb gives three solid reasons that the Vorys law firm aggressively recruits students from OSU Moritz College of Law: "It's a great college of law; it tends to attract bright students who want to stay in Columbus, Cleveland or Cincinnati; and the College is very supportive of the firm."

Finally, Arthur's grandniece and Webb's cousin, Yolanda C. Vorys, is a member of the class of 2007. Her father, John C. "Jay" Vorys, is also a partner in the Vorys firm.

For nearly a century, both the family and the firm have prospered by holding fast to the traditions and values that serve them well. The core beliefs remain: foster a collaborative environment that nurtures younger generations; demand integrity and accountability; cultivate shrewd legal understanding; and always give back through philanthropy and community service. The Moritz College of Law is privileged to have helped foster this spirit of professionalism among so many generations of Vorys.