May June 20 Report

Leadership in the Time of Crisis: Chris Wagner Takes the Helm as CBA President W hen Chris Wagner started on the path to becoming pres- ident of the Cincinnati Bar Association, he couldn’t have anticipated assuming the role during a global pandemic. But the longtime public sector attorney is up for the challenge. “We are all now faced with the knowledge that this will be a long solution and we will have to deal with the consequences for quite some time going forward,” said Wagner of the coronavirus outbreak. In March of 2020, the city of Cincinnati and the state of Ohio took precautionary measures before much of the country, shutting down non-essential businesses and changing the landscape of practice for many professionals, including lawyers. Legal services were deemed an essential business, and both lawyers and the CBA continued to operate, largely remotely, during the crisis. At the time of publication, several of our courts had issued orders restricting inflow to courtrooms, and many pivoted to virtual settings. But access to the law and legal services never stopped. The legal community and the CBA are no strangers to remaining calm under fire. The 148-year-old organization has, as Wagner pointed out, stood the test of time in this country. “Within context, we should all take comfort that our Cincinnati Bar Association has suffered through the Spanish Flu outbreak, two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and all the other conflicts, and our profession has come out stronger than it did before, as long as that is what we want to do,” he said. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Law, Wagner wanted to be a lawyer from the outset. “I always wanted to go to law school,” he said. “As a small child, I was very fascinated in our constitutional system, the history of the republic, the intersection of constitutional law and indi- vidual freedoms, and enjoyed studying classes even in undergrad about constitutional law.” By Leyla Shokoohe Wagner pictured at the Hamilton County Courthouse Law Library. Photography by Marlene Rounds. Cover Article