AALM: What first drew you to the legal industry?
French: I grew up in a small town in Northeast Ohio, where there were only a couple of lawyers and none with any relationship to my family. I was editor of my high school newspaper and drawn to journalism. What I soon realized, however, was that both journalism and law involve finding answers: marshaling evidence, organizing it, and communicating it. Ultimately, I chose law because it added aspects of government and advocacy. I have never regretted it.
AALM: Tell us about your time with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
French: I was chief legal counsel to the agency and one of five deputy directors. Among those deputies, it was my job to present the legal perspective. I learned how to manage people, communicate my position, and interact with the public and news media. At that time, T.C. Brown was a reporter with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He would ask me questions over the phone, and I could hear him tapping away on his typewriter as I spoke. I sweated through a few of those interviews. It was a great learning experience.