Eric Okerson drew No. 11 in the U.S. Selective Service lottery during the Vietnam years, which meant that as soon as he graduated from Boston University, it was a sure thing he’d be drafted. Instead of waiting, he signed up for the Navy.
His father had been a Naval Aviator, taking off from and landing on an aircraft carrier during some of the bloodiest fighting on the high Pacific during World War II. Eric figured if the Navy was good enough for his father, it was good enough for him.
He did his tour on an aircraft carrier, too. As a 22-year-old Lieutenant Junior Grade, he showed a sufficient blend of initiative, smarts and responsibility to be assigned to stand bridge watches as “officer of the deck.” That meant he was the Officer in Charge in the absence of the Commanding Officer, which in turn meant he had charge of navigating the ship when the top guy was indisposed. “That’s how I learned what it meant to land an aircraft on a ship. It was significant both to me and my dad that we had that shared experience.”
Eric regards his Navy background as good preparation for law school; he was third in his class at Tulane and editor-in-chief of the law review. As of 2016, he had been with the Firm 36 years. During his interview, Eric met a number of the Firm’s patriarchs, each of whom, in addition to being a superb lawyer, was deeply involved with civic commitments for the benefit of the greater community. “I thought, ‘Do I want to work with guys like this?’ Absolutely!”
When Eric’s children were in school, he joined the PTA and became president. Then he became involved with the Ohio PTA. In 2004, Ohio’s governor appointed him to the State Board of Education, a position he held for four years. He is most proud of the role he played in leading the efforts of the School Readiness Solutions Group, a state board outreach designed to come up with a plan to help children be better prepared for school.
“We have rural and urban poor coming to kindergarten who don’t know their colors or their last names and can’t count to 10. So how do we help them? We put together a plan to work with three- and four-year-olds. The only thing it lacks is money, but I’m hopeful. The point is, we designed a system to reach kids at an age where they can soak up the information they will need going into school, so they will grow and prosper.”
He’s friendly, easy-going and intense all at the same time. He sees himself as having a blend of his father’s rational, intellectual curiosity and his mother’s emotional, empathetic traits. His interests span an eclectic range from scuba diving, classical music and bicycling to photography, astrophotography and natural history. Since the age of 50, he has run ten marathons and figures he’s probably good for one more.
As an attorney, he says you won’t find anyone who cares more about a client’s issue. “I think clients understand that pretty early in the relationship. They see that I’m not just a service provider. They understand that I care about their problems and about them. And they’ll see I come up with ideas that not everybody would come up with.”
Eric practices in the corporate area, with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, commercial law, and trademark and copyright law. In January 2005, Eric was appointed by Governor Bob Taft to the Ohio Board of Education for a 4-year term. Prior to joining Graydon, Eric served as Judicial Clerk to The Honorable George C. Edwards, Jr., Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Based on the grading and comments of his peers, Eric is recognized with an AV Rating, the highest rating given to lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell.