It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of our former Chairman and CEO, Tim Ochsenhirt. Tim, who began his legal career as an associate attorney at Roetzel in 1972, died on November 9. He was the firm’s longest-serving Chairman, having taken on the role in 1985 and retiring from the position in 2012.
Tim was known as a different kind of law firm leader, who believed that there was more to running a law firm business than watching the bottom line. Nominated as one of Law360’s “Most Innovative Managing Partners” in 2010, he implemented a philosophy of fostering collegiality among the firm’s hundreds of attorneys and staff and implemented that policy by regularly traveling a circuit of the firm’s offices, accompanied by his beloved wife and partner Nancy, and taking the pulse of everyone on the Roetzel team.
Tim’s forward thinking and “Just Do It” attitude took the firm from two Ohio offices with 25 attorneys in 1985 to 12 offices in four states with over 200 attorneys by the time of his retirement in 2012. Always on the lookout for hardworking, self-disciplined attorneys with an entrepreneurial spirit, his vision created a firm with a large firm infrastructure and geographical footprint, but with a level of collaboration and collegiality more emblematic of a much smaller firm.
“Tim was bigger than life,” said our current Chairman, Robert Blackham. “He was brilliant, gregarious and tough as nails. He was also incredibly compassionate and relentlessly encouraged those around him to strive to be the best they could be. Those he led did so, not just because it was the right thing to do, but because you knew Tim wanted you to succeed for your own benefit and, since you knew he cared so deeply, you didn’t want to let him down. We are a great firm today because of his drive and dedication to the institution and people he so loved.”
An Akron, Ohio, native, Tim earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Akron in 1968. As an undergraduate, he was a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity and the Omicron Delta Kappa Honorary Society. While at Akron, he also served as president of the student body. Following his graduation from the University of Akron, Tim attended the University of Virginia, where he received his law degree in 1971.
An active member of many professional and civic organizations in Akron, Tim was honored by the University of Akron in 2009 as one of its distinguished alumni. He was a founding member of InfoLine, Inc. and the Ohio Legal Center Institute. He chaired and sat on the boards of numerous Akron-area charities and community organizations including Oriana House, Summit County Crimestoppers, Imagine Akron 2025, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, and the Akron Civic Theater. Tim served as Chairman of the Akron Bar Association’s Diversity Committee, and was also a Commissioner of the Ohio Athletic Commission from 2010 to 2013.
Roetzel Partner and past Ohio State Bar Association President Ron Kopp, one of Tim’s longtime colleagues, spoke on behalf of the firm regarding Tim’s “larger than life” presence, “For those who knew Tim, no more needs be said. For those who didn’t, know that you missed a special person and leader. He will never be replicated."