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After 40 years in practice, Woods starts new job as judge

February 3, 2015 | Alumni

The Honorable William H. Woods ’73 started his first term in judicial office last month, taking the bench on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. He was elected to the seat after successfully running in November to fill a vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Daniel T. Hogan.

Prior to starting his new position, Woods spent 40 years as a trial lawyer and advocate. He rose from a clerk to managing partner at the Columbus firm of McNamara and McNamara, where his practice focused on civil litigation, including personal injury and complex commercial cases.

Throughout his career, Woods has stayed active with the Ohio State law school, volunteering as a mentor in the Mentoring and More @ Moritz program and routinely judging student Moot Court competitions.

The judge said those experiences have helped make his transition to the bench easier. “I don’t think there has been much of a learning curve going from advocate to judge because I had, throughout my career, experience being a judge, although not a law judge,” he said. “So that hasn’t been a huge change, but my practice was mainly in the area of civil law and so it has been a bit of a learning curve dealing with the criminal cases.”

Although the court is a busy place, so far the experience of sitting on the bench, rather than standing before it, has been an enjoyable one Woods said. “It’s been going well. I‘ve had a couple of criminal weeks and two days of sentencings, and I’ve already had one jury trial in a criminal case. I’m very much enjoying the opportunity; the court is a very busy place and every day presents many new challenges,” he said.

Although he is now 68, Woods told the Columbus Dispatch he would be open to the idea of running for a second, six-year term on the bench if two things occurred. One, the state laws barring those over the age of 70 from beginning a new term on the court changed, and two, he remained in good health during his tenure.

Woods said he looks forward to the challenges his new position will bring, and plans to continue volunteering when he can. “I’m very grateful to Ohio State for the education I received. I’ve continued to try to be active with the law school, not only by judging Moot Court, but I’m very active in the Mentoring and More program since it started, and I look forward to continuing with that,” he said. 

Read Woods’ full profile here in the Columbus Dispatch.