Jim C. Aranda
Bachelor of Arts in History, 1968
Partner, Stebelton, Aranda and Snider
High School Dropout | As Aranda explains it, he is a high school dropout. Really, he’s as much a seminary dropout. He attended a seminary near Chicago for high school but quit halfway through his senior year. He was still able to get into Loyola University, spending the spring semester there before applying to Xavier. “I was a half-credit short on the science requirement,” he says. “Xavier was nice enough to review my situation and admit me despite that. I wanted to go away to school and was fortunate to get to go to Xavier. I did not graduate from high school. I’m a high school dropout made good.”
Early Career | After law school at the University of Notre Dame, Aranda worked in Chicago and Columbus. The Park Ridge, Ill., native moved in 1976 to his then-wife’s hometown of Lancaster, Ohio, and began establishing his practice. The couple had one adopted child at the time and later adopted a second.
Adoption Law | Aranda’s education and personal interest in adoption created a natural, professional niche. “As a Catholic lawyer in the community with an adopted son, I came to be known as someone who did adoption work and I just kept doing it. I got referrals from a wide variety of people and I had a basic interest in adoptions from my personal experience.”
Best-Known Case | Aranda considers his work in adoption law to be especially rewarding. He is best known for successfully arguing the Ridenour case before the Ohio Supreme Court in 1991. The case established important state and national precedent by holding that adoptions terminate the rights of both biological parents and grandparents. “This case gave adoptive parents the right to raise their adoptive children without interference,” he says. “It’s beautiful because it promised adoptive children a shot at a new life.”
Long-Term Path | Aranda began picking up probate and real estate clients from another Lancaster attorney who eventually sold his practice to Aranda.
Current Practice | Aranda’s practice focuses on “elder law,” a term that describes a wide variety of legal issues affecting senior citizens, such as health care power of attorney and estate planning. He also does Medicaid recovery for the state of Ohio.
Fairfield Legal Clinic | One of Aranda’s favorite ways to give back to the community is through the all-volunteer Fairfield Legal Clinic. He coordinates area attorneys to provide free legal advice on civil matters. “We’re in a rural county without much industry. We have a lot of poor people who would never get their legal needs addressed without the clinic.” In addition, Aranda volunteers for the local Humane Society and is incoming president of the board for the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster.
Greatest Influence | Aranda says his parents and the Jesuits at Xavier have had the most influence on his life. To honor his parents and to help continue the tradition of Jesuit education, Aranda established the “Harold and Bonnie Aranda Scholarship,” which covers tuition at Xavier for one student per year from Park Ridge, Ill., or from Fisher Catholic High School in Lancaster.