Moritz grads heeded call to head west
When Ron Perey moved to Seattle just after his 1968 graduation from what is now referred to as the Moritz College of Law, he wasn't sure what to expect. The Cleveland native had never seen mountains or an ocean before, something he had always dreamed of seeing. As it happened, the biggest decision of his life was to leave Ohio and his family in Cleveland to relocate in Seattle with his wife and newborn child, Page, and it proved to be rewarding, both personally and professionally. Perey loves Seattle even with its notorious rainy and cloudy winters.
"Seattle is a great place to live and lay down roots," he said, admitting he didn't want to return to Cleveland or embark on a new life in Columbus. Fortunately, despite not being a Seattle native and knowing no one in Washington, Perey found both the legal and local communities extremely receptive to newcomers. Seattle was in the midst of an incredible growth spurt that continues today, and Seattle natives are accustomed to transplanted residents, said Perey.
Perey also admitted that moving to Washington after graduating had no impact on his ability to succeed in Seattle's legal community. "I felt I could have practiced anywhere!" he said, adding that the Ohio State College of Law provided "a great legal education that empowered me to become a front-running, high profile, plaintiffs' personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer in Washington for 40 years." He is especially proud of consistently being listed in the annual Best Lawyers in America publications.
First in time, first in right
According to one of Perey's classmates, Seattle lawyer Jon Schorr, Perey was not exactly the first in his class to move west following law school.
"I moved to Seattle two days after graduation in June 1968," said Schorr. However, both Perey and Schorr agreed that it was Perey who ventured to Seattle during his third year at the Ohio State College of Law in search of employment.
Another classmate of the two lawyers – Bo Barker – also followed Perey and Schorr to Seattle immediately after they set up shop there. Seattle was not Barker's first choice for his life post-law school. Because Barker was an avid snow skier, during his third year in school, he traveled to Denver to investigate the city's job market. "It wasn't great," Barker said. When he returned to Columbus, Perey told him of his own recent search for employment that had taken him to Seattle and netted him several job offers; he extolled the virtues of Seattle's fertile employment market to his law school pals. Since relocating, Barker developed a niche representing condominium owners associations in lawsuits against builders and developers for construction defects. Perey states: "Bo created condominium law in Washington."
Although three men settled down in the same city following law school, their experiences at Moritz were vastly different.
Perey recalls that law school orientation set the tone for his years at Moritz. "Fear," was the emotion he said was repeatedly injected into orientation. "They did that famous thing, 'Look to your left, look to your right. One of them won't be here next year,'" he said. "I did not want to be the one to leave, so I studied a lot that first year and got good grades. It was fear and hard work, and not a lot of fun." Perey maintains that "hard work" has been the key to his successful career as a trial lawyer.
However, looking back four decades, Perey expressed gratitude for his Ohio State Law experiences. For example, he recalled "being taught to think like a lawyer." He said his evidence professor constantly reiterated his hope that if the law school accomplished anything for its students, it was to teach them to think like a lawyer.
Barker found law school extremely challenging, but he said that its difficulty taught him an attribute intrinsic to a successful lawyer – perseverance.
Making good use
All three men consider themselves avid outdoorsmen, and Seattle's attractive landscape has proven fertile ground for various athletic pursuits. For example, Perey learned to ski and hike and has twice climbed to the top of Mt. Rainier. However, he said, he won't be climbing the 14,000-foot peak again.
During his younger years, Schorr enjoyed racing sailboats. "Now I have succumbed to a power boat in my old age," he said. He continues to ski, kayak, and hike. "The natural beauty here is stunning."
Barker, who is now semi-retired, plays tennis, golf, and kayaks. He also has participated in group bike rides in various places around the world, such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Thailand, and Austria.
And back again
Although it's been years since any of the men have ventured back to Columbus, both Perey and Schorr plan to return to Columbus this summer. Perey attended his 35th law school reunion and plans on attending his 40th law school reunion while Schorr will participate in his 50th high school reunion.
All three men expressed their sincere gratitude to the College for what they learned about the law. Those lessons have proven quite valuable in the practice of law. They are also thankful they had classmates join them in a city that was so far from Columbus. "It was nice to have each other," Barker said. "We kept in touch and enjoyed having each other."
Perey said whether he's in Seattle or vacationing in his winter home in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Columbus and Ohio State are never far from his heart, partly because he still wears OSU t-shirts. In an April letter to the College, he wrote: "Everything that I am and have is traceable to Ohio State University."