Independent Minds, Working Together

Lance Mason '89

Judge, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court

When Lance Mason came to Wooster as a first-year student, he thought he might follow in his father’s footsteps and become a physician. But somewhere during those first two years of chemistry and biology, he changed his focus to the law. It’s a decision he’s had no cause to regret.

After graduating in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Mason earned a law degree from the University of Michigan and headed to Washington, DC, where he worked as a litigator in the U.S. Department of Agriculture for three years.

Returning to his native Ohio, Mason served as an assistant prosecutor in Cuyahoga County from 1996 to 1999, before becoming district director for Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Appointed to the Ohio House of Representatives in 2002 and elected in 2004, he served as assistant minority whip and ranking minority member of the House Criminal Justice Committee. In 2006, Mason was elected to the State Senate, representing more than 330,000 constituents from the Greater Cleveland area.

Today, Mason serves as a judge on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Reflecting on his Wooster experience, Mason says it prepared him well for law school and beyond.

“Law school is all about interpretation, reading carefully, and close analysis,” he says. Wooster helped hone those skills, and sharpened his abilities as a writer as well.

“I just think it’s invaluable to get a liberal arts education at a small college, where you have these close personal relationships with your professors,” Mason says.

In particular, he singles out Eric Moskowitz, associate professor of political science, who was Mason’s mentor and adviser for his Independent Study project, an analysis of the theories of Thomas Sowell and other black neo-conservatives.

“Professor Moskowitz was extremely encouraging. Working with him really built my confidence. It was a great experience.”

Another lasting legacy of Wooster is the friendships Mason made here. He was active in student government, sang in the chorus, and lived in a program house with a diverse group that included students from India and Norway. He still keeps in touch with several.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate to see both sides of politics: behind the scenes and running for office,” Mason says. “I was able to serve as both a prosecutor and a defense lawyer before becoming a judge, and I hope that those experiences have helped make me well-rounded and fair.”