ONE Connection | 11 Facts About Frank Ginn, Jones Day's First Managing Partner
In more than 100 years, the Firm has had only seven Managing Partners. Each leader has contributed something unique to the building and growth of what has become Jones Day. This feature on the first Managing Partner, Frank Hadley Ginn, launches an occasional series that will profile each man as a lawyer, leader, and member of his community, with a focus on his unique contributions to Jones Day.
Frank Hadley Ginn joined what would become Jones Day in 1893, the first associate in the firm of Blandin & Rice. As an associate, partner, and later Managing Partner, Mr. Ginn—he was never called anything else—had a pivotal effect on the Firm and the Cleveland community. A progressive thinker who wielded power quietly, he was the embodiment of the Firm's foundational values of integrity, personal accountability, dedication to clients' interests, determination, and commitment.
Born in 1868 in the small town of Fremont, Ohio, young Frank earned a Bachelor of Philosophy degree from Kenyon College before coming to Cleveland to study law. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1892, and one year later joined Blandin & Rice at the behest of his former law professor, Judge Edwin J. Blandin.
Though he was later known to prefer hiring unmarried lawyers—saying they needed to be married to the law first—he was a family man. He wed Cornelia Root in 1899, and they had two sons and two daughters. The Ginn family were major figures in the Cleveland social and philanthropic community.
Mr. Ginn would be at the Firm for four decades, leading it for 25 years and leaving a legacy that influences Jones Day to this day.
Here are 11 notable facts about the life and times of Frank Hadley Ginn.
1. Frank Ginn's addition to Blandin & Rice allowed the Firm to expand rapidly.
In the early 20th century, Cleveland was one of the largest, wealthiest cities in America. Many of the biggest names of the era were on the Firm's client list, which the business-savvy Mr. Ginn helped grow exponentially: the Cleveland Trust Company, the Ohio & Pennsylvania Coal Company, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co., East Ohio Gas Company, Ohio Bell Telephone Co., B&O Railroad, and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Mr. Ginn's impact was especially important after he became a partner in 1900. Despite his ties to so many high-profile clients, he was a firm believer that the Firm must always maintain its freedom to turn down any representation, a cornerstone belief of Jones Day.
2. He was named Managing Partner in 1913.
Following the mysterious murder of founding partner William Lowe Rice in 1911, the Firm went through many mergers and name changes. Through them all, Mr. Ginn was a constant. In 1913, he was named Managing Partner of what was then Tolles, Hogsett & Ginn.
3. He established the Managing Partner system.
Frank Ginn made many important decisions to help grow the Firm, but none more significant than in 1928, when he established the Managing Partner system that continues to be the hallmark of Jones Day nearly a century later. Mr. Ginn believed that lawyers function best when able to focus on practicing law, rather than on administrative issues. His view was shared by his colleagues, and the system was confirmed in a three-page partnership agreement that stated the Managing Partner has the authority to manage the law practice, fix partnership interests, resolve internal matters, and name his successor.
4. He was a charismatic yet private man who wielded power quietly.
Mr. Ginn preferred to stay behind the scenes. He rarely appeared in court but was said to be on the board of more companies than anyone else in Ohio. Despite his support of many arts organizations, he preferred to entertain at home. And although he had little public involvement in politics, he was a confidant of many of the most powerful people in Cleveland, including the Van Sweringen brothers. He was once described by a partner as a "businessman's lawyer and a lawyer's businessman."
5. He wasn't afraid to challenge prejudices.
In early 20th century Cleveland, and much of America, Jewish lawyers were rarely employed as clerks, let alone associates or partners, in most major law firms. Mr. Ginn did not partake in the prejudice, hiring a young man who would go on to become a prominent Firm leader, Frank Joseph, in 1926. He did this without consulting anyone else at Tolles, Hogsett & Ginn, telling them: "After talking with him for some time I took the responsibility of saying to the boy that we would be glad to have him come into the office…."
6. He was a progressive thinker.
Frank and Cornelia Ginn were some of the earliest proponents of the new Montessori educational system in the city, even establishing a school of sorts in their Gates Mills home, Moxahela (an Indian word for "Bear Gulch"). Mr. Ginn was also a proponent of the importance of exercise, getting up early each day to do some physical activity before heading to the office. And, he was a bibliophile, who lived at the Rowfant Club, an exclusive club for book lovers, as a bachelor.
7. He was partial to French speakers.
Although he was not known to speak French, the Firm was not engaged in international law practice, and French was not a popular language in Cleveland, Mr. Ginn had the habit of asking lawyers interviewing to join the Firm whether they spoke the language. Those close to him conjectured that he viewed speaking French as the sign of a well-educated, cultured individual. (He was also a connoisseur of fine wines, which perhaps contributed to his fondness for la langue française.)
8. He was a patron of the arts.
Mr. Ginn was a founder and officer of the Musical Arts Association and the Cleveland Orchestra, which is still regarded as one of the finest in the world. He was the chairman of the building committee for the Orchestra's home, Severance Hall, which opened in 1931.
He and Cornelia were also collectors of art, with New York dealers frequent visitors to their home. They collected Impressionist masterpieces and early 20th century European art, as well as Renaissance and earlier works.
9. He owned a Renoir—and composer Maurice Ravel visited his home.
Following the deaths of Frank and Cornelia in the 1930s, their family donated many of their artworks to the Cleveland Museum of Art. One of them was a Renoir pastel, "Mother and Child," regarded by many as one of his best.
That wasn't the Ginns' only brush with artistic greatness. The couple hosted musical salons at their home on Sundays, inviting guest musicians and conductors. One of the those visitors was Maurice Ravel, celebrated composer of "Boléro," who played a piano that is still in the Ginn family.
10. His philanthropic legacy lives on.
Mr. Ginn's commitment to community was inherited by future generations of his family. In the 1990s, several grandchildren auctioned off their inherited artworks and created the Frank Hadley Ginn and Cornelia Root Ginn Charitable Trust. This was followed by the sale of five more paintings in 2000, for $4 million, which was added to the trust. Since then, the family foundation has awarded more than 300 grants to more than 100 Northeast Ohio organizations, totaling nearly $3 million. The grants focus on educational and health-care needs of low-income, Cleveland-area residents.
11. His legal legacy shaped Jones Day.
In addition to establishing the Managing Partner system, Mr. Ginn hired numerous lawyers who went on to become key leaders in the Firm's growth and expansion—and who were deeply influenced by the foundational values he exemplified. These included: Jack Reavis, Nelson Rose, Roger Brennan, and Chappie Rose. Decades after the first Managing Partner's death, in fact, Chappie Rose would boldly embody Mr. Ginn's belief in institutional independence when he turned down representing President Nixon in regards to the Watergate Tapes.
Mr. Ginn passed away at age 69 in 1938. Not long before his death, he appointed Tom Jones to be his successor as Managing Partner.
"When … Mr. Ginn died, I felt a deep sense of loss that an era had come to an end," said partner Carter Kissell in a 1991 interview. "He had a quiet reserve which I felt was an unlimited pool of spiritual strength. I always found him kind and considerate. Only those who really knew him were aware of what an outstanding person he was, for he shunned publicity and spurned the limelight."
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