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“There is a Path from McDonalds to The Supreme Court!”

  • Written by Anne Chlovechok

Justice Judi with students for webJustice Judi French, front right, sits with CHS students before chatting with them about careers and the Ohio court system last week.

Clint Crane’s and Jodi Singleton’s government and economics students at Caldwell High School attended a casual, informative talk by given Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judy French Friday at Caldwell High School. The judge, who was in town to speak at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner Friday night, said that she enjoys addressing groups of students.

“It’s all part of a civic education,” she said. “I had wonderful teachers through my years in public schools. This is my chance to make my contribution in turn. And these school visits are really fun! You never know what the kids are going to come up with.”

Justice French, originally from Mahoning County, talked about growing up in Ohio, attending public school, and working at McDonalds.

“There is a path from McDonalds to the Supreme Court!” she said.

She spoke of working her way through The Ohio State University, briefly considering a career in journalism due to her love of researching, reading and disseminating information before interests in history, government and law turned her towards a law career, and she earned a bachelors in political science, a masters in history and finally her Doctor of Jurisprudence upon graduation from law school.

Following graduation, Justice French put her degrees to work, first as an attorney at an environmental law firm, then at a corporation followed by the Ohio EPA, before accepting a position at the Ohio Attorney General’s office. She said she loved her work there, as it consisted of a great deal of reading the constitution and dealing with freedoms and rights dear to her, such as the freedoms of speech and religion.

She also made a point of telling the young women in the audience that there is plenty of room for women in the legal profession. On the Ohio Supreme Court, four of the seven justices are women.

“If there is one takeaway from this talk, it’s that it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female in this field,” she said.

The justice answered several questions, and encouraged the students to think about career possibilities that they may not have considered.

Caldwell High School Principal Devvon Dettra was very pleased that Judge French would take time from her very busy schedule to visit his school.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the students and the school,” he said. “We’re really thankful that Justice French has offered to stop here and speak. Maybe she’ll make the students think about the possibility of a career path they hadn’t thought of before.”