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Incoming Akron Bar president discusses agenda

Legal News Reporter

Published: June 28, 2019

Roetzel & Andress shareholder Karen Adinolfi became an Akron Bar Association member while she was still in law school and has remained actively involved in the organization ever since. Now Adinolfi is preparing to take the reins as president.

Adinolfi, who has served as president-elect for the past year, was sworn in on June 27 during the bar association’s annual meeting at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn. She will officially begin her new role on July 1.

“I have great admiration for the former bar association presidents and their achievements while in that role and I am honored and excited to be part of that legacy,” said Adinolfi, who focuses her practice on employment law.

“My main focus as president will be to serve as an ambassador for the association and also to make membership attractive and indispensable to all lawyers who practice in Summit County,” she said. “We already have excellent membership numbers, but I would like to attract even more attorneys by demonstrating the many benefits of membership to them and their practices.”

Outgoing Akron Bar Association President William Chris, a principal at Roderick Linton Belfance said Adinolfi is well prepared for the role.

“Karen is a phenomenal lawyer, leader and bar member,” said Chris, who will become the immediate past president on July 1. “She and I have been working together over the past year and I’m sure she will be able to take over without missing a beat.

“She has a common sense approach and a calming influence, which enables her to work well with staff members and inspire bar members to get involved in committees and take on leadership positions.”

Incoming president-elect Hamilton DeSaussure Jr., a member of Day Ketterer said he’s looking forward to working with Adinolfi.

“I’ve known Karen collegially for a number of years and served with her on the board of trustees of the bar association,” said DeSaussure.

“Karen was a thoughtful member of the board of trustees and has worked well with Bar President Bill Chris over the past year,” he said. “She works collaboratively with all members of the bar association and I believe she will be a great president.”

Born in Cleveland, Adinolfi grew up in Lyndhurst, Ohio, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in history from The University of Toledo and a master’s degree in history from Kent State University.

“I initially thought I wanted to be a history professor, but then I decided I was more interested in working in the museum field,” she said.

Adinolfi was on her way to completing her Ph.D. in history at The University of Akron when she decided to go to law school.

“Law school had always been an option for history majors and I decided that the museum field was not stable enough locally for my comfort,” she said.

While attending The University of Akron School of Law, Adinolfi obtained an externship for then-Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah Cook (now a senior judge on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals). After completing the externship and passing the bar exam, she began working as a judicial attorney for Justice Cook.

Adinolfi joined Roetzel & Andress in January 2002, becoming a partner (now shareholder) in 2011.

She has been a member of the Akron Bar Association since 1999, chairing the Labor & Employment Law Section, the Common Pleas, Municipal, & Appellate Courts Committee and the HR Committee.

Adinolfi served on the board of trustees for four years prior to becoming president-elect and was on the Akron Bar Foundation Board of Governors from 2012 through 2014, before joining the board of trustees.

She has also been on the Grievance Committee and its Investigative Subcommittee as well as the Bar Applicants and Students Committee.

Adinolfi continues to be a member of the Labor & Employment Law Section, which she joined in law school. She is also a member of the Ohio State Bar Association Labor & Employment Section Council and the Ohio Management Lawyers Association and an at-large trustee of the Ohio Women’s Bar Association.

In addition, she is an adjunct faculty member at The University of Akron School of Law, where she teaches employment law.

Adinolfi is also active in the community, having served until this year as a board member and chair of both the Summit County Historical Society and the Akron Blind Center.

Early in her career she served on the bar association’s Commission on Judicial Candidates with former Akron Bar Association President Pete Cahoon.

“I was very impressed with Karen’s professionalism, judgment and the way in which she related to others,” said Cahoon, a partner and former chair of the Litigation Practice Group at Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs. “I remember telling her, ‘I think you will be bar president someday.’

“I’m absolutely thrilled to see her taking on the role,” Cahoon said. “Karen will ensure that the bar association continues to have great leadership.

“When each of us becomes bar president, we hope to build on what his or her predecessors have done and to have new vision and accomplishments. I am sure Karen will honor this tradition.”

“As a younger attorney my focus at the Akron Bar Association was to serve on committees and get to know how everything worked,” said Adinolfi. “However, as my career progressed I became more comfortable with the idea of leadership and becoming president so that I could carry on the great work of our former bar presidents.

“I plan to carry on the tradition of fiscal responsibility, while exploring new ways to serve members, the profession and the public, including with new initiatives and programs.”

Adinolfi said she hopes to expand upon existing CLE opportunities and networking events.

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to educate and interact with our members and enhance the value we provide to them,” said Adinolfi. “We have great participation by some of our members who are new to the profession as well as some of our longtime members.

“We also have a very good relationship with The University of Akron School of Law, which continues to provide a pipeline of new members,” she said. “We will keep that relationship vibrant, which has significant benefits for both the bar association and the law school.”

“I believe the new leadership at the Akron Bar Association will make the organization even more relevant and responsive to the needs of its members and future members,” said Chris.