The Ohio State alumna is the first Black woman to lead a Columbus law firm.

When you’re a Black woman and an attorney, the odds of rising up the law firm ladder are stacked against you. There are currently only five people who fit this description who are partners at a major Columbus firm. And so, when you have an opportunity to connect with someone like you who has accomplished great things, this is what you do: “I said to myself, this may be the only time I’ll see this woman and I have to say something,” says Janica Pierce Tucker, 43, remembering the day in 2000 when she came across Janet Jackson at the office. No, not that Janet Jackson. This is the one who was the first African American woman judge in Franklin County history and then the first woman to serve as Columbus city attorney. A pioneer and role model.

At the time, Pierce Tucker was attending Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law and was a law clerk in the Columbus city attorney’s office led by Jackson. They’d never met. “I introduced myself and asked if I can have some time to meet, and she said yes,” says Pierce Tucker, who has an outgoing personality and the ability to quickly connect with people. And make them laugh. “To this day, she is my mentor and friend. I was bold enough to ask, and the cool thing I’ve experienced in Columbus is there are people who are willing to invest in you, but sometimes you have to make that happen.”

Pierce Tucker has connected with several mentors over the years and has made a lot of good things happen. In January, she was named partner-in-charge of Taft Law’s Columbus office, becoming the first Black woman partner in charge of a large Columbus law firm, and one of very few women to hold such a position.

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