OSBA honors Columbus attorney with Women Lawyers’ Award

Beatrice K. Sowald of Columbus has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Nettie Cronise Lutes Award. Sowald received the award during the OSBA Annual Convention in Columbus.

The Nettie Cronise Lutes Award, named for the first woman to practice law in Ohio, was created by the OSBA Women in the Profession Section to recognize women lawyers who have “improved the legal profession through their own high level of professionalism and who have opened doors for other women and girls.”

“It’s so nice to receive this award,” said Sowald. “In Nettie Cronise Lutes’ time, many people believed that women were emotionally and intellectually unfit to practice law. I’m delighted to be recognized for efforts over the years to dispel that notion.”

Sowald, a 1948 graduate of The Ohio State University, was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1966 after her graduation from The Ohio State University College of Law. She began her legal career as an attorney with the Legal Aid and Public Defender Society in Columbus. After her daughter, Heather Sowald, passed the bar, they formed their own law firm in 1980. The firm has since tripled in size. It has grown into one of the most well-respected family law firms in the state, and has received an AV rating, the highest designation under Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review rating system. Sowald’s practice focuses on domestic relations and probate matters.

“Bea Sowald’s expertise in domestic relations and probate matters and her years as a founding member of a thriving practice have earned her the respect of her colleagues,” OSBA President Jonathan Hollingsworth said. “She is a role model, not only for daughter and her law partners, but for other women in the profession across the state.”

In addition to her family law practice, Sowald has served as a judge on the bench of the Franklin County Domestic Relations Court (1984-1985) and the Franklin County Municipal Court (1985-1986). She has served as co-editor of Baldwin’s Ohio Practice: Sowald Morganstern Domestic Relations Law resource book every year since 1987, and has taught family law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

A board-certified family law specialist, Sowald has served as chair of the Family Law Committee and the Professional Ethics Committee of both the Columbus Bar Association and the Ohio State Bar Association. For a number of years, she assisted new lawyers in career development through the Supreme Court of Ohio Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program.



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