Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Legacy Fund Surpasses Fund-Raising Goal
The Chief Justice Moyer Legacy Fund was established to provide a lasting memorial to Chief Justice Moyer’s dedication to integrity, fairness, open-mindedness, intellectual acumen, ethics, creativity, and decisiveness. At the time of his untimely and unexpected death in April 2010, Thomas J. Moyer had served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio for nearly 24 years – the longest tenure of any sitting chief justice.
In May 2010, members of the Ohio State Bar Association discussed an initiative to raise funds in support of educational opportunities that embody the indomitable spirit of Thomas J. Moyer. A collaboration quickly developed involving the Ohio State Bar Foundation, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, and the Ohio Judicial Conference. Buoyed by an outpouring of public support, and committed to carrying on the legacy of Chief Justice Moyer – the Chief Justice Moyer Legacy Fund Committee was formed. The committee’s first act was to enlist Goettler Associates to plan and implement a fund-raising campaign seeking $1.3 million in support of statewide education programs of excellence to uphold and continue the Chief Justice’s legacy.
The mission of the Chief Justice Moyer Legacy Fund is to honor the late Thomas J. Moyer by sustaining and enhancing the most important tenets for which he stood, including legal and civic education, dispute resolution, personal integrity, ethics, civility, judicial independence, and the rule of law. The Legacy Fund will support ongoing, statewide projects that promote the administration of justice, public understanding of the law, and advance civility, ethics, and the rule of law.
The Fund’s initial fundraising efforts sought to support two objectives:
1. Fellowship Grants to Law School Students at Ohio Law Schools through the Ohio State Bar Foundation
2. The Chief Justice Moyer Professorship at The Ohio State University School of Law for the Administration of Justice and Rule of Law
The impact of Chief Justice Moyer on the legal and judicial community in the state of Ohio may, in one small way, be exemplified by the diverse organizations that came together in creating the Moyer Legacy Fund, including:
- The Ohio State Bar Association, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 25,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio as well as nearly 4,000 legal assistants and law students. Through its activities and the activities of its related organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice.
- The Ohio State Bar Foundation is the charitable arm of the Ohio State Bar Association and operates as a non-profit legal organization that uses programs and grants to improve the justice system and advance the law.
- The Ohio Judicial Conference is an independent statutory entity within the judicial branch of government with the following purpose: To study the coordination of the work of the several courts of Ohio; to encourage uniformity in the application of the law, rules and practice throughout the state and within each division of the courts as an integral par of the judicial system of the state; to promote an exchange of experience and suggestions respecting the operation of the judicial system; and to consider the business and problems pertaining to the administration of justice and to make recommendation for its improvement.
- The Michael E. Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University offers more than 145 courses, covering nearly every area of the law, including an array of clinical and skills courses. The Moritz College of Law has served the citizens of Ohio and the nation since its establishment in 1891.
Campaign Planning and Implementation
Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer had personally raised funds to advance his initial and subsequent elections, most recently in 2004. While this historic base of support would make a logical constituency to support a lasting legacy in his name, initial discussions focused on the importance of creating a broader base of financial support from across the entire state. Campaign organizers also recognized that Ohio’s community of legal professionals represented the most likely donor constituency, and one that must be enlisted before obtaining support from others.
The Moyer Legacy Fund Committee was chaired by Barbara J. Howard, esquire, and past President of the Ohio State Bar Association. Other members included representatives from the Ohio State Bar Foundation, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Judicial Conference, and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. A hallmark of the entire effort was the remarkable collaboration between the Moyer Legacy Fund Committee and the organizations they represented.
As a new venture, with no existing staff, structure, or prior fund-raising results, the initial strategy was to seek financial support from the Moyer Legacy Fund Committee members, as well as the Governing Boards of both the Ohio State Bar Association and the Ohio State Bar Foundation. As Steve Stover often joked, “the boards of these organizations did not go away on a planning retreat and determine to launch this campaign.” Rather, the leadership of the OSBA was planning to host a gala to honor Tom Moyer, and upon his untimely death, several members determined that a Legacy Fund was important.
The Moyer Legacy Fund Committee, the Ohio State Bar Association Governing Board and the Ohio State Bar Foundation Board collectively contributed more than $200,000 in support of the campaign. This demonstration of “family” support was a key factor in the organizational phase of the campaign. The Moyer Legacy Fund Committee and fund-raising counsel set upon a law firm/legal community strategy that utilized Metro Chairs for each of the large metropolitan areas throughout the state of Ohio: Akron; Canton; Cleveland; Cincinnati; Columbus; Dayton; the Mahoning Valley; Southeast Ohio; and Toledo. Ohio is fortunate to be the home of several large law firms, and the advice from many sources was to contact the major law firms at the headquarter location. The Metro Chair approach was a success; and the law firm portion of the campaign secured more than $700,000 toward the $1.3 million goal.
The final component of the campaign was an effort to secure financial support from business and corporations located in the state of Ohio. With leadership from the Ohio Business Roundtable as well as The Columbus Partnership, a number of corporations pledged gifts to the campaign.
During a remarkable week in December, 2011, the Ohio Supreme Court held a ceremony to rename their home building in honor Chief Justice Moyer, and the Moyer Legacy Fund held the second gala event and announced that the initial $1.3 million goal had been secured. Congratulations to Barbara Howard, Steve Stover, Alison Belfrage and the members of the Moyer Legacy Fund for their impressive campaign victory. Goettler Associates, Inc. is honored to have served as their fund-raising counsel.