It was one phone call that helped make Lisa Eschleman’s decision to attend Capital University Law School. The call was from former Dean Josiah Blackmore.
“I was down to St. Louis University Law School and Capital,” the 1987 graduate recalls. “Then, Dean Blackmore called me and said, ‘I want you to go to Capital.’ The fact that the dean called me, it was so impactful that I got that kind of individual attention.”
Attending Capital is a decision Eschleman says she has never regretted, adding that she maintains the life-long friends she met in law school, including several faculty members.
Eschleman initially intended to work for Legal Aid when she graduated, but as is often the case, her career took a circuitous route before that would happen.
When she graduated, she was offered a job with the Columbus firm of Porter, Wright, Morris and Arthur. “I started at Big Law,” she says. “I owe that to Professor (Roberta) Mitchell. It’s that one-on-one relationship with faculty that stands out about Capital.”
Professor Mitchell had served as Eschleman’s faculty advisor and told her if she didn’t take the offer, she might not have the chance again. “It’s an opportunity not many lawyers get to do,” Eschleman notes. “When I got there, I fell in love with the type of law I was doing.”
At the time, she worked in litigation. “Capital prepared me for that type of career,” she says. “I think I got an exceptional legal education at Capital. Ultimately, I became a partner.”
She worked at the firm for 18 years before Professor Mitchell came calling again and asked her if she would be interested in returning to the law school as senior attorney in the Family Advocacy Clinic Child Custody Unit.
Eschleman recalls telling her husband Stephen Eschleman about the new opportunity. “I told him I thought it would be challenging and a wonderful career change. The wonderful guy I married asked me, ‘Will it be fun?’ I said, ‘I think it would be wonderful.’”
With the support of her husband, who passed away in 2021, she served in the role for five years when her phone rang again. This time it was Sam Porter who was chair of the Executive Committee at Porter Wright. Knowing Eschleman’s interest in Legal Aid, he asked if she would head up the pro bono division at the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, now the Ohio Access to Justice Foundation. Serving as its associate director, she worked on a team with then Ohio Supreme Court Justice Thomas Moyer and then Attorney General Richard Cordray to help people across the state during the height of the 2008 foreclosure crisis.
While at the foundation, former Governor Ted Strickland tapped her to serve as the chair of the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission. “When the governor calls, you don’t say, ‘no,’” she says. After serving a six-year term, it wasn’t long before she got a call from a member of the board of the Ohio Center for Law Related Education (OCLRE) asking her to consider serving as its director.
She retired from OCLRE in 2016 while continuing to serve as an adjunct professor – a role she has held at both CapLaw and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. In 2020, she was honored with the Capital University Law School Judge Markus Family Adjunct Faculty Award.
“It’s a ball,” she says of teaching at CapLaw. “What I get back from them is probably more than I ever give.”
Not surprisingly, she says, “retirement didn’t stick.” She has returned to practicing law for the boutique domestic relations firm of Friedman & Mirman.
“I tell my students, definitely, the practice of law is not a straight line,” she says. “Certainly, my experience at Porter Wright opened doors for everything else I did for my career.”
Eschleman earned her bachelor’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University and served as a juvenile probation officer before deciding to attend law school. Through the years, she has served on numerous legal and community nonprofit boards and continues to be loyal to the purple and white.
As part of the In Radiant Splendor Shine capital campaign, Eschleman made the decision to provide an estate gift with funds directed to the Capital University Law School Minority Endowed Scholarship. Through the scholarship, preference is given to one evening and one day student entering their final year of study who have demonstrated academic improvement and financial aid and contributes to the diversity of the student body. Eschleman says she chose the scholarship fund to acknowledge the hard work of a student about to graduate.
“I remember that feeling, ‘I’m almost there,’” she says, while expressing her appreciation for her own Capital education. “It gave me my career. It gave me the opportunity in life that I don’t know I ever would have had. Now, I’m looking back at the gift that Capital gave me in terms of my career. That’s my motivation. I look back with immense gratitude for what the law school gave me.”
Dean and Professor of Law Reynaldo Anaya Valencia notes that, “Professor Eschleman is an outstanding alum of the Law School, with career successes in the private sector, non-profit arena, government and in higher education. Her deep commitment to justice, diversity and making the world a better place animates all that she does, which makes her an extraordinary role model for our students. The Law School is indebted to her for her willingness to teach and give back so much her alma mater.”