John Elam

Inducted: 2011

John was born in Indiana, served in WWII, and graduated from the University of Michigan. He moved to Columbus in 1949 to join Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease, and was presiding partner 1963-1994. Under his leadership, the firm grew from 22 to 278 lawyers. With beloved wife Ginny, he moved to UA in 1958.

John earned national recognition as a trail lawyer. He taught at U of M and OSU Law Schools, was President of the Selective American College of Trial Lawyers, and held high positions in the Columbus/Ohio/American Bar Associations, even reviewing US Supreme Court nominations.

John volunteered time and talent to his community, serving in leadership positions with the UA School Board, Columbus Chamber of Commerce, CCAD, Wexner Center, First Congregational Church, and League of Women Voters. His power of persuasion was legendary. He helped raise over $18 million for Directions for Youth, Girl Scouts, Gladden Community house, Legal Aid, and United Way. He risked personal consequences for principles in which he believed, such as ethics and equal opportunity. He received many prestigious awards, including a professorship in his name at the OSU Moritz College of Law.

His devotion to family and friends was well known. He balanced his personal and professional lives, bringing enthusiasm, optimism, and laughter to all.