Maggie Ostrowski – (614) 487-4425, (614) 306-3839Columbus, Ohio (April 28, 2017) –
Gene Whetzel, former Assistant Executive Director of Legal Affairs and General Counsel for the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) is the recipient of the 2017 Eugene R. Weir Award for Ethics and Professionalism. The Weir Award recognizes exceptional professional responsibility among Ohio lawyers and was presented to Whetzel during the OSBA’s Council of Delegates meeting.
“For more than 22 years, Gene served as the resident authority on legal ethics issues at the OSBA and he has always practiced what he preached -- honoring both the code of conduct from his military service and his sacred oath as a lawyer,” said OSBA President Ronald Kopp. “Not only is our organization better because of Gene’s service, but our profession has benefitted greatly from his sage advice and gentle reminders of our professional and ethical responsibilities.”
As General Counsel for the OSBA, Gene Whetzel oversaw all the Association’s legal affairs, serving as counsel to the Board of Governors, the Executive Director and the OSBA staff. He was an ex officio member of the Association’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, the Legal Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee (now the Grievance Committee) and the Ethics Committee. His advice and counsel shaped the considerations of those bodies, which together are charged with preventing unauthorized practice, investigating and pursuing grievances against lawyers and judges, and evaluating all other matters touching on legal ethics and professional responsibility. In these roles, Whetzel represented the Association in dozens of cases before the Board of Commissioners for Grievances and Discipline (now the Board of Professional Conduct), the Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, and the Ohio Supreme Court.
A native of Pennsylvania, Whetzel studied history at Pennsylvania State University, then became a Buckeye, graduating cum laude from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. He would later go back to Ohio State to earn his master’s in history.
Whetzel went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps in various capacities, including as chief trial counsel and a military judge at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He later served in the reserves, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Following his military service, Whetzel returned to Ohio to clerk for then-Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Brown. He was an associate at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease and counsel to The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association before coming to the OSBA, from which he retired in 2016 after a distinguished career.
Over the years, Whetzel served as Secretary-Treasurer to the OSBA’s Corporate Counsel Section, authored numerous articles on ethics issues for the OSBA’s publication, Ohio Lawyer
, was a member of the National Organization of Bar Counsel; the Association of Judicial Disciplinary Counsel and a past-president of the Ohio Society of Association Executives.
Whetzel continues to serve on and advise the OSBA Grievance and Ethics committees and lectures in business finance at The Ohio State University. The Ohio State Bar Association, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 28,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio. 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.