Chappelear ’77 Named President of OSBF
Stephen E. Chappelear ’77 has no shortage of leadership experience on his resume. But that hasn’t stopped the Columbus attorney from setting ambitious goals as a part of his most recent endeavor.
Chappelear is now president of the Ohio State Bar Foundation (OSBF), which he refers to as one of the most dynamic and successful bar foundations in the nation.
“I’ve attended several national bar foundation meetings, and the Ohio State Bar Foundation is looked upon as a leader,” he said. “When we say something, everyone perks up. They are listening to what we are saying.”
The evidence is quantitative as well. The foundation has built a “large corpus” of funds that is incomparable to similar organizations, Chappelear said. “Our foundation has a bigger corpus than the American Bar Foundation, or any state and local one that I know of,” he said. “People are trying to learn some of the innovative things that we do.”
Among those innovative initiatives are a few that Chappelear has proposed and is in the midst of achieving during his term. Primarily, Chappelear and his board are interested in altering how the foundation issues grant money to its applicants.
Currently, when local foundations or other organizations believe they have an initiative the Ohio State Bar Foundation may fund, those organizations submit applications, which are either accepted or denied.
“The foundation has really taken a passive role,” he said. “We wait for people to come to us with an idea. We hope to change the process to allow us to begin strategic grant making. We have some pretty good ideas ourselves, ways to improve administration of justice in Ohio, and ways to improve public understanding of the law. Now we’d like to take our grants to organizations and say: ‘We have this idea and we would be willing to fund it if you are interested.’”
Chappelear’s enthusiasm at the OSBF is indicative of his leadership roles with several other bar groups. Chappelear is a former president of the Ohio State Bar Association, Columbus Bar Association, National Metropolitan Bar Caucus, and American Inns of Court-Franklin Chapter. He has also participated on the boards of several dozen law-related and non-law-related organizations.
Two initiatives that Chappelear said he is most proud of are his work with the Moritz College of Law and the creation of a trial log for the Columbus Bar Association.
For nearly 20 years, Chappelear could be found in Columbus’ Common Pleas Court sifting through every civil case that ended in a jury trial. He would document those cases – about 125 or so a year – and print them in the association’s monthly newsletter. Chappelear would report the verdict, judge, a short case description, what expert witnesses were used, and previous settlement offers.
Chappelear compiled the information for so long that he was able to annually compile statistics on the cases. Attorneys began using the information when determining whether trial was a viable option or evaluating settlement offers.
“I felt I was providing a useful service to the bar,” he said. “People would tell me that the verdict information helped them show their clients what really happens at trial.”
Chappelear started writing the reports when he was a few years out of law school and said it was beneficial to him as a young lawyer.
“You can’t look at thousands of files and cases without learning,” said Chappelear, who has since passed the duty on to others. “I was learning and that made me a better litigator. There certainly was a tangible benefit to what I was doing as a volunteer.”
Chappelear also said that he is proud of his work with the Moritz College of Law. While in law school, Chappelear was active in the College’s moot court program, serving on the National Moot Court team, the Jessup Cup International Moot Court team, and on the Moot Court Governing Board. He continues his work with the program to this day. For each of the past 32 years, he has returned to Moritz to judge moot court competitions.
“I always find it so enjoyable and invigorating,” Chappelear explained. “We have great advocates at Moritz, when I come to work the next day, I have a lighter step and I am reenergized.”
For the past five years, Chappelear has worked as partner-in-charge in the Columbus office of Hahn Loeser + Parks LLP, where his practice includes varied civil litigation.
He lives with his wife in Pataskala, Ohio, a Columbus suburb. He has two children, ages 28 and 26. His daughter, Kacey Chappelear, is a 2007 Moritz graduate and assistant Franklin County prosecutor.