New Ohio State Law Journal editor’s leadership plan: set expectations and communicate effectively

Second-year Moritz student will be journal’s first African American editor-in-chief

By: Chris Booker

Published on February 21, 2018

David Roper learned some of the most important lessons of life and leadership on a pitcher’s mound.

“Composure is extremely important in that position because the pressure is on literally every play. It starts with you,” Roper said. “So I've always tried to focus on doing the next best thing and staying under control. Really thinking about what the next best move is, as opposed to becoming tight and letting the emotions get the best of you.”

Roper is a second-year student at The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, and next year he will be the new editor-in-chief of the Ohio State Law Journal – the oldest of the college’s five law journals.

The Ohio State Law Journal is a generalist law review. The journal is edited by law students and publishes several issues each year.

Roper is also the first African American to serve as editor-in-chief for the journal. The selection went to a runoff and he was chosen to lead the journal earlier this month.

He was quick to credit peers who paved a path before him and the faculty who supported his efforts. Roper pointed to Angela Frost, who was the first African American editor-in-chief of the Ohio State Business Law Journal, as an example.

“I think that was a catalyst for some folks encouraging me,” Roper said. “Because she did it and you know we never do anything in isolation. That’s what I've learned. It’s not possible to do everything by yourself.”

One of the advisers who encouraged Roper to run was Associate Clinical Professor of Law Katherine Silver Kelly.

“It’s so important for young people to see somebody in front of them,” Kelly said. “And there will be young people who will be able to see him and say, ‘see, this is what I can do. When I get in, I can do that.’”

Roper said a lot of emotional phone calls followed his selection.

“I called my parents and they were pretty emotional about it,” he said. “It was great for them, especially understanding my roots at the school and how much opportunity the university has given our families.”

Roper is continuing a Buckeye tradition. His father, Emmett, is a graduate of the College of Medicine and his brother is currently in medical school at Ohio State.

“He’s still more proud of (my brother),” Roper joked. “No, he was extremely proud and excited. He was really excited when I initially got into Ohio State and when I told him that this was what I was going to do. It was great for him.”

Before he was accepted into law school, Roper spent three years as a legislative aide at the Ohio Statehouse. He has also worked as an intern at the Columbus office of a national law firm and in the Office of the Federal Public Defender.

This professional experience has helped develop the leadership approach he intends to bring to the law journal.

“My focus is to try not to be overbearing in my leadership style. It’s about putting pressure on the right places. A lot of this is about setting expectations and communicating effectively,” he said. “Because leadership isn’t just about setting rules and expectations for other people, it’s about investing in their success and creating an environment where they can achieve.”

Roper hopes to continue as a recruiter for students to come to Ohio State and to the Moritz College of Law. He hopes his position helps others see what’s possible.

“I really hope that next year, current first-year and incoming students really see that they can do it here,” he said. “That’s always the message that I try to send whenever I’m talking to you about Ohio State and about Moritz.”

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