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Alum Credits Legal Success to Hard Work, Lessons Learned at McMicken

Attorney Joseph Shea III (philosophy ’69) is the recipient of the Ohio State Bar Foundation’s 2008 Ritter Award, its highest honor.

Date: 11/24/2008
By: Matt Cunningham
Phone: (513) 556-4190
Photos By: Provided by Joseph Shea III
McMicken alum Joseph Shea III (philosophy ’69) has had a good career. He is the principal in the civil litigation law firm Shea and Associates, and has been named either one of the state’s top 100 lawyers or one of Cincinnati’s top 50 lawyers every year since 2004 in statewide peer voting. He founded Casemaker, a nationwide online legal research service that is used by more Ohio attorneys than any other such service. He was also appointed by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer to serve as the head of the Board of Bar Examiners of the Supreme Court of Ohio several years ago. Shea has practiced law in Cincinnati since earning his JD from Northern Kentucky University in 1974.

Joseph Shea.
Joseph Shea III is principal at the civil litigation law firm Shea and Associates.

Most recently, Shea was named the 2008 recipient of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Ritter Award, its highest commendation.

“There are 35,000 lawyers in the state they could have given it to,” said the lifelong Cincinnati resident. “To be selected as the recipient of this prestigious award among so many other deserving colleagues is somewhat beyond my comprehension.”

When asked about the secret to his success in the city, he had a straight-forward answer.

“I think it’s hard work,” he said. “If you work diligently and vigorously on every case you have the privilege to handle, it adds up over a career.”

Shea said he still carries with him values instilled at McMicken, though not all were learned in the classroom.

“I think an awful lot of it came from fraternal service work,” he said. Shea stayed on campus even during his summer breaks to care for the Alpha Tau Omega house, and said his involvement with inter-fraternity council gave him valuable experience.

“It demanded a lot of responsibility, time and effort, but it was rewarding and taught me a lot about leadership,” he said.

Shea retains ties with McMicken and the university as a whole; he has been a UCAT member and season ticket holder for football and basketball for over 15 years.  He enjoys going to the games with his wife, alum Elaine Miller Shea (B.S. Education ‘68 and Kappa Alpha Theta member).

When he’s on campus, he said he often notices the university’s changing face.

“I think it’s awesome,” he said of the development, both of new buildings and of the community surrounding campus. “The university’s become much more of a community in and of itself, which I think is very important.”

And in that sense of community, that bond with the university where he studied many years ago, Shea said he found parallels to the ethic that has carried him to the upper echelons of his profession.

“I think it gets back to the same idea. You can be as good as you insist on being.”

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