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Brian Bardwell

As a journalist, Brian D. Bardwell was trained to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Now an attorney, he brings the same sensibility to the practice of law, where he focuses on First Amendment rights, whistleblower protection, and access to government records. Clients benefit from a unique set of skills and training that Brian uses to uncover the truth, defend his clients’ rights, and make life miserable for those who abuse their power.

Before he was a lawyer, Bardwell was an award-winning reporter and editor, covering criminal-justice and education issues for newspapers around Northeast Ohio and writing about tax law for State Tax Notes. The National Press Club, the Washington D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Associated Press Society of Ohio recognized his outstanding writing and investigative skills, which have uncovered a college dropout with a fake degree trying to take over a local school district, sex offenders taking jobs as elementary-school teachers, and even a plot by the Mexican government to hijack the script of the latest James Bond film.

Apart from his journalistic work, Bardwell also spent several years running a small nonprofit focused on promoting the public’s right to access government records. Well before he was an attorney, he was successfully suing local governments that refused to disclose who they were holding in their jails, how they had disciplined public officials, and what property they had seized from their citizens. Based on that work, he was invited to lecture on public-records law by the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys, the Cleveland Employment Inn of Court, and the biennial conference of the ACLU of Ohio, which called him “one of Ohio’s greatest champions of transparency.”

Brian graduated cum laude from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where his aggressive trial-advocacy skills earned him an invitation to the Order of the Barristers. He earned a bachelor’s degree with high distinction from the University of Virginia. His academic research has been published in the University of Virginia’s Oculus and in the Case Western Reserve Law Review.

He is admitted to practice in Ohio and the District of Columbia.


Law Clerk at the The Chandra Law Firm (2017–19)

Law Clerk at the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio (2017)

Law Clerk at the City of Cleveland (2016)

Judicial Extern to the Honorable U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen B. Burke (2016)

Editor and Reporter at State Tax Notes (2006–17)

Reporter at The Chronicle Telegram (2005–06)

Reporter at The Morning Journal (2003–05)

Reporter at The Akron Beacon Journal (2002–03)

Bar Admissions

Ohio, 2019

Washington, D.C., 2019


"The Ohio Public Records Act for Trial Lawyers," Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys, January 2016

"Access to Personnel Files and Other Public Records for Trial Attorneys," Cleveland Employment American Inn of Court, October 2014

“How to Access Public Records,” Ohio State Bar Association Law and Media Conference, October 2014

“A Rip-Roaring Run Through the Sunshine Laws!” Ohio State Bar Association Law and Media Conference, October 2012

“Digital Liberty: Censorship and Transparency in the Information Age,” ACLU of Ohio Biennial Conference, July 2012

“Public Records: How Much Farther Can the Door Close?” Ohio State Bar Association Law and Media Conference, October 2011

Professional Associations and Memberships

Federal Bar Association

Ohio State Bar Association

Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association

Norman S. Minor Bar Association

Community Involvement

Board member, The Reading Room CLE

Member, City of Lakewood Records Commission

Litigation Percentage



J.D., The Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland, Ohio (cum laude, 2018)

B.I.S., The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va. (with high distinction, 2013)

Honors and Awards

The Order of the Barristers (2018)


"No One Is an Inappropriate Person: The Mistaken Application of Gebser's "Appropriate Person" Test to Title IX Peer-Harassment Cases," 68 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 1343 (2018)

“What Blocks the Sunlight: Causes of Noncompliance with the Ohio Public Records Act,” The Oculus, University of Virginia

7.2Brian D. Bardwell

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