Eaton lawyer George (Jake) Early was recognized Wednesday, March 26, for his long-standing service to Preble County as a lawyer and magistrate.
District 2 lawyers, which includes Preble County, met in Greenville with the Ohio Bar Association. President of the Bar Association, John Hollingsworth, said, “This is one of 18 district meetings that we hold around the state, and it’s a time where the members in a particular district come together to honor the long-serving members; folks that have been practicing 50 and 65 years and we talk about what’s going on in the Bar Association and what’s been going out throughout the course of the year… to try to get a better feel for it, so the leadership isn’t missing what’s happening in the respective local districts.”
After graduating Eaton High School, Early moved on to his undergraduate career at Hanover College, where he studied history and political science. After Hanover, Early attended Ohio Northern University for his law degree. Once Early had earned his law degree, he taught in Harden County for a year before moving back home to Eaton.
Hollingsworth said meetings and recognition ceremonies are imperative to practicing law, as learning information from long-time practicing lawyers have much to teach one another. Hollingsworth said law is a “living and breathing thing … lawyers are generally the motivating forces behind changes in the law. They are constantly trying to determine whether or not an existing law works for the people, or the majority of the people, because no one law works for everybody.”
“I came back to town and went into practice with my father, I was the City attorney and prosecutor in Eaton Municipal Court for four or five years. In 1970, I was named a referee of the Eaton Municipal Court by Judge Lloyd B. Bennett and I worked for Judge Bennett for his term, worked for Judge Thomas Jernell during his term, and now work for Judge Paul Henry. So I’ve worked for three judges as a magistrate, now referee, when it started and I enjoy doing that, I’m still doing that,” said Early.
Early has focused his law in domestic relations, real estate practice, and real estate and probate practices.
An appointed magistrate in the civil court, Early hears all civil claims, eviction cases, civil suits up to $15,000, jury trials with the consent of the parties involved, and civil actions.
Creating the practice, Early and Early in 1965 with his father, the practice later transformed to Early and Thomas, where Early now practices with his son, Dirk. Though Early had a slew of other cities to choose from when picking where he’d practice, big cities aren’t an interest for him.
Early says the past 50 years of practice have flown by.
“I think if you end up doing something you enjoy doing, it’s not a job, it doesn’t wear you out. And I enjoy doing what I do,” he said.