Terrence O’Donnell

Terrence O’Donnell

Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court

2015 Person of the Year

Justice Terrence O’Donnell joined the Supreme Court of Ohio in 2003, and since that time has led statewide efforts to increase professionalism among lawyers and judges across Ohio. His leadership culminated in the implementation of a Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program that is recognized nationally as one of the finest in the United States. He regularly speaks on topics of ethics, professionalism, and appellate advocacy, and also supports the expansion and strengthening of lawyer mentoring in Ohio. Additionally, he recently participated in a national forum on professionalism and mentoring at the University of South Carolina.

Justice O’Donnell began his judicial career in 1980 on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court—the busiest trial court in Ohio—and served there for 14 years until his election to the Eighth District Court of Appeals in 1994. He served there for eight years, and subsequently served as a visiting trial court judge in various counties throughout the state before joining the Supreme Court in 2003.

He began his legal career at the Ohio Supreme Court as a law clerk to Justice J.J.P. Corrigan in 1971, and then clerked for Judges John V. Corrigan and John M. Manos on the Eighth District Court of Appeals. Before beginning his judicial service, he practiced law with the firm of Marshman, Snyder & Corrigan in Cleveland for six years.

A former school teacher, Justice O’Donnell is a founding member and past president of the Legal Eagles — a law fraternity for alumni of St. Edward High School in Lakewood, and a frequent lecturer at its year-end seminar. He also is a member of the Ohio State Bar Foundation Fellows Class of 2005, a past member of the board of trustees of Magnificat High School, and the board of trustees of the Lawyers Guild of the Diocese of Cleveland.

Justice O’Donnell also has served as chairman of the Ohio Legal Rights Service Commission, which oversees the protection and advocacy of the developmentally disabled and mentally ill statewide. He is a past member of the board of trustees of Our Lady of the Wayside, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the needs of the mentally and physically challenged where his brother, John, lived for ten years until he died in 2011.

Justice O’Donnell has been honored by every school and university he attended: St. Edward High School presented him with its Alumnus of the Year Award in 2005, Kent State University recognized him as an outstanding graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences, and Cleveland State University awarded him its Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition, the University of Akron School Of Law conferred an honorary doctor of law degree when he presented the commencement address in 2005. He also is a 2006 recipient of the Jurisprudence Award from the American ORT Cleveland Chapter, and he became a member of the 2011 Irish Legal 100, a group of prominent Irish lawyers and judges selected from across the United States.

Justice O’Donnell currently resides in Rocky River with his wife, Mary Beth. The couple has four adult children – Terrence, Michael, Colleen, and Nora, and enjoy spending time with their seven grandchildren, Terrence, Charlie, Claire, Emmett, Kevin, Molly, and Maggie.