Dagger Law Celebrates Retirement of Randy Happeney

Randy L. Happeney, partner in the law firm of Dagger, Johnston, Miller, Ogilvie & Hampson, LLP retired recently after 35 years with Dagger Law.

Randy Happeney, PartnerHis law practice placed an emphasis on family law, civil litigation and adoption. Happeney successfully handled thousands of domestic relations matters ranging from simple dissolutions to complex divorces involving in excess of 30 million dollars in assets.

“Randy has always been one of the most productive attorneys in our partnership in terms of hours billed and revenue raised, despite a diagnosis of multiple myeloma” said Jeff J. Spangler, managing partner at Dagger Law. “As much as we miss working with him every day, he earned his retirement, and we hope he enjoys many years of rest, relaxation, and time with family and friends, and most of all, his grandchildren, who we know hold a special place in his heart.”

 

Happeney is a graduate of Miami University and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. He was recognized as an Ohio State Bar Association Certified Specialist in Family Law since 2003. He has been selected by his peers as an Ohio “Super Lawyer” by Cincinnati Magazine since 2009. He was a member of the Fairfield County Bar Association, where he served as chair of the Domestic Relations Committee from 1995 until 2008.

A native of Circleville, Ohio, Happeney resides in Lancaster with his wife, Marcy. They have three adult children – Lauren, Mitchell and Clayton. He has served on the Board of Directors with The Lighthouse domestic violence shelter and volunteered with the Robert K. Fox Family Y, including serving as president for two years. An avid outdoorsman, Happeney has hunted around the world, including Alaska, Canada, Africa and New Zealand.

Law Clerk Experience at Dagger Law

By: Hannah Travis, Law Clerk for Dagger Law

Dagger Law logo Red background

During my time as a law clerk at Dagger Law, I’ve been asked many times what a law clerk is and what I do during my workday. A law clerk is typically someone, like me, who is currently in law school and is seeking practical experience before actually becoming an attorney.

As a law clerk, I complete tasks for licensed attorneys such as legal research and drafting documents. If an attorney is working on a case and has questions come up that they don’t know the answer to or want to know more about, they would then ask me to find an answer for them. This could be a matter of finding a rule or statute that contains a direct answer, or it could mean researching caselaw to see how courts have previously ruled on an issue. Once I find something, I report back to them in a written memo. In this document, I restate the question, give a brief summary of the answer, and then provide a detailed explanation of my research and findings in an analysis which includes citations of caselaw, or statutes used in the research.

When drafting documents, a partner or associate would ask me to draft items like discovery, motions, or letters. This allowed me to attempt legal writing on my own and then the attorney would review, revise, and provide me with valuable feedback to improve my legal skills. Not only did this lighten their workload but it allowed me to gain real-world experience while drafting these documents. This is a win-win situation for the firm and for me, as a student.

As an added benefit, law clerks can actually lighten a client’s bill. The hourly rate of a law clerk is less than an attorney’s. If I spend an hour or two drafting a document for a client, and the attorney reviews and revises my draft for thirty minutes (versus them spending two hours drafting it at their hourly rate), this is actually saving the client money. Now the situation becomes a win-win-win!

This experience was not all research and writing in some dimly lit room. Law clerks get to shadow attorneys to get a taste of “a day in the life” and get practical experience that can’t be gained in a classroom. This means getting to attend court hearings, client meetings, and even be a witness for legal documents. I was only able to attend court twice this summer due to COVID-19, but it allowed me to see how the attorneys at Dagger Law interact with prosecutors, magistrates/judges, and other attorneys. I have also been able to sit in on client meetings, and witness how attorneys interact with both new and long-term clients. I learned how to listen to clients, what questions to ask them, and how to respond to client questions.

My experience as a law clerk for Dagger this summer has been a great one, despite the current pandemic happening. The attorneys tried to make the experience as normal as possible for me, and they did a great job!

 

You Need a Will at Any Age

By: Hannah Travis, Law Clerk and current law student at Capital University and Nolan Flowers, Associate Attorney at Dagger Law

WillThose of us in our early twenties, or even early thirties and forties, may wonder why we need a will. We assume that wills are “something older people get.” I’m going to tell you why it is important to not only have just a will, but also a power of attorney and healthcare directives, even if you believe you are not old enough to have these important documents.

One of the best ways in understanding the reasons for having estate documents is understanding the differences between them and how effective they can be when used properly in conjunction with one another. First, let us distinguish the three.

In its simplest form, a will is a document that allows a person to identify who will receive their assets after death. These beneficiaries can be spouses, children, grandchildren, friends, or even charities. A will can also allow parents to appoint a guardian for the minor child(ren), should they ever need guardianship.

A power of attorney is a document that allows an individual to appoint someone to serve as their attorney in fact, or “agent.” This means the appointed individual may handle financial, legal, business, or other matters on behalf of the principal in the event the principal is unable to act on their own behalf. The goal of the agent is to handle affairs in harmony as to how the principal most likely would have if it were not for their inability to do so.

Healthcare directives are generally made up of two independent documents: (1) healthcare power of attorney and (2) living will. A healthcare power of attorney provides an “agent” to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal in the event they are unable to do so. Although the healthcare power of attorney may seem similar to a power of attorney, the two documents do not overlap as far as authority provided to the agent, so this is why it is important to have both. A living will is a document where the principal dictates their end-of-life medical care in the event they would become unable to do so.

Now let us discuss why it is important to have each of these documents. It is important to have a will because this document allows you to expressly put your wishes in writing. Maybe you want one child to receive your house and car, but your other child to receive the rest of your assets, or maybe you want one person to get all your real and personal property. Ultimately, a will (or even a trust) will allow you to dictate how your assets will be distributed once you have passed. If you do not have a will prepared, Ohio’s Intestacy Succession laws will dictate how your assets get distributed. This may not align with your wishes. A will can also be a wonderful tool for those with minor children because wills allow you to identify guardianship provisions for them.

A power of attorney is important because you are appointing someone you trust to make decisions for you that may have both legal and financial implications. Having a person who can make these decisions is not only beneficial to the principal, but also to their loved ones.

Healthcare directives are similarly important because you are appointing someone to make choices regarding your health and care, which ultimately could mean appointing someone who decides when the time is right.

All these documents, when prepared correctly to adequately represent the intentions and wishes of an individual, can aid in reducing the stress and emotion that usually arises when these documents are acted upon. Additionally, a well-prepared estate plan may help reduce legal costs after the passing of a loved one.

The attorneys at Dagger Law place clients’ needs first, as clients are our top priority. They take great care in compiling these documents, as they truly care about you and your loved ones.

Thank you, Jim Miller

In the Preamble of the Dagger Law Partnership Agreement is a history of the origins of the firm: “The Partnership traces its origins through the history of two law practices started in Lancaster, Ohio by J.W. Deffenbaugh, Esq in 1902 and William C. Dagger, Esq. in 1946. The two partnerships merged on January 1, 1986.” Attorney J.W. Deffenbaugh was Jim Miller’s grandfather, and since 1902 Lancaster and Fairfield County have been blessed to have had three generations of the Miller family as prominent lawyers within our community. Eminently respected by all, they were dedicated to making our community a better place to live and raise a family.

The effect that the Miller family has had cannot be measured. For the first time in 118 years that chain of excellence, role modeled by the Miller family lawyers, is broken.

Our partner and friend, Jim Miller, passed away at 2 p.m. July 15, 2020. Dagger Law mourns the loss of a great man and honors his legacy by carrying on the tradition of outstanding attorneys dedicated to the community and our clients; as Jim Miller always did.

Due to COVID-19 a traditional funeral is not possible, but there will be a drive-by burial recognition on Saturday, July 18 at 11 a.m. at Forest Rose Cemetery at the Miller Family plot, which is located at the top left side of the cemetery by Marks Ave.

Connecting with People

By: Hannah Travis, Law Clerk and current law student at Capital University 

Hannah Travis playing golf for OU AthensAs someone who has golfed since I was six years old, I have always connected with people through the game. At my young age, I participated in the First Tee program. This program is built on nine core values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment—all characteristics I believe the attorneys at Dagger Law possess.

I learned so early in life how important networking and connecting with others is. I learned about good eye-contact, how to properly shake someone’s hand, and being engaged in conversations with others. I believe my people skills have helped me get to where I am today. Through golf, I met Partner Jeff Spangler, as well as others who work for the county in law and law enforcement. Through conversation and friendliness, these people asked about my life—where I was attending college, what my major was, what I wanted to do in life. Being from a small town and wanting to stay in the area long term sparked interest in these people and landed me a job at Dagger as a summer law clerk.

I think there is a certain prejudice that lawyers, doctors, and other professionals seem to have surrounding them. In my first year of law school, my Contracts II professor had the class complete a group activity. She first asked us to describe what people typically think of when they think of a lawyer. Several students raised their hands and gave answers such as crooks, rude, intimidating, and not genuine. She then asked what we would want a lawyer we hired to be like, to which students answered: friendly, helpful, caring, and kind. We then discussed how most lawyers are actually described as the way we answered the second question.

I find it very important to form opinions of others for yourself, not by what others say about them. Lawyers are highly educated individuals, but they are still people. They like sports, they have families, they exercise, they go out with friends, etc. just like everyone else. Throughout the week, and even sometimes on the weekends, they talk in “legal-ese” because they are mostly surrounded by other attorneys and judges. When talking to attorneys, I have found that if you do not understand something, just ask! They get used to a certain way of communicating at work and sometimes just forget to “change gears.”

In the legal field, I have also observed that talking to a Partner of a firm seems to be more “intimidating” than talking to other attorneys. At Dagger, this is not the case. As a law clerk, I do a lot of work for Partner Jeff Spangler. He is extremely approachable and willing to answer any questions I have. He is thorough in explaining facts of a case to me or in what work I need to do. He treats everyone in the office with respect, and he gets his work done just like everyone else.

I have also had a chance to shadow Katie Cornelius-Blume, another attorney at Dagger. I observed a meeting she had with a younger client, and she was extremely thorough in explaining the client’s rights to them. Katie is understanding and caring with her clients and wants to make sure they understand what she is explaining to them.

In the end, people will always remember how you treat them and make them feel, so make your first impression to others one you want them to remember for the better. I believe the attorneys at Dagger truly care about their clients and put forth their best work each and every day.