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Released on May 14, 2024
CSULAA Alumni of The Year Recipient Profile: Kemper D. Arnold ’80
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Arnold Kemper

Cleveland State University Law Alumni Association Alumni of the Year recipient Kemper D. Arnold ’80 has developed a thriving business law practice over the past four decades.  But the law was not Kemper’s first career.  He started his journey as a professional scuba diver.  

Inspired by Jacques Cousteau, the famous underwater explorer of the 1960s, Kemper was selected to join the National Geographic and University of Pennsylvania Mediterranean dive expedition to uncover the 4th Century BC Greek ship discovered by a Greek sponge diver a mile off the northern coast of Cyprus, 100 feet below the surface. Known as the Kyrenia Shipwreck, it is the oldest ship’s hull dug out of the seafloor and is recovered and preserved in its own museum. The expedition was documented in National Geographic issues from 1970-1974.

That adventure led Kemper to further explore a career in the diving industry after the expedition was complete.  He purchased a 130-foot decommissioned, World War II mine sweeper with a group of experienced marine salvage divers and sailors, pursuing diving opportunities off the shores of the southern states and the Caribbean. Kemper then joined an established diving enterprise based in the Midwest that provided diving instruction, wholesale and retail dive equipment sales, and commercial diving expertise.

Kemper recognized diving would not be his forever profession and wanted to pursue further education, having graduated as a double major in Psychology and English from Denison University five years prior. The son of a college professor and homemaker, he did not have any exposure to the legal profession but felt law school would offer him the broad education and the necessary professional discipline to support him in future opportunities.

While attending CSU|LAW, Kemper worked in the legal clinic where he participated in his first trial experience.  He also pursued independent research on a familiar topic of interest, “Abandoned and Salvaged Property in the Navigable Waters of the United States: A Discussion of Federal and State Statutes Defining the Rights of the Salvor/ Finder.”

“My CSU|LAW legal education prepared me for the discipline of thorough preparation regarding whatever tasks one might face professionally, and in life generally,” said Arnold.  “Courses in Probate Law, Estate Planning, Tax and Business Formation complimented the areas in which I ultimately focused.”

Referred by a CSU|LAW professor, Kemper began his legal career at Berkman, Gordon, Murray and Palda.  After nearly five years of practicing law in both state and federal court, he was presented with the opportunity to join his current firm, Vantage Financial Group, initially as in-house counsel, and later, as a principal of the firm. His focus has been working with individuals and business owners in estate planning, investment planning and asset management, insurance and risk management, executive benefits design, and business succession planning.

“Focusing on the various issues needed to be reviewed in business law, I have always enjoyed the planning process addressing the needs of the client, the challenge of implementation of a plan, and the satisfaction experienced with the client when the planning process succeeds,” said Arnold.

Kemper’s legal background has also been a great asset supporting his significant involvement with the Special Needs community for which he has been an advisor and advocate for over 30 years. A devastating, life-changing accident suffered 50 years ago, resulting in multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and rehabilitation over several years introduced him to the community of individuals suffering from a wide range of injuries and disabilities.  That exposure had a profound impact on him and has led to Kemper using his legal skills to benefit this community. 

“My greatest satisfaction and highlights of my career always center on helping families with issues associated with special needs planning,” said Arnold.  “That may be from addressing the financial challenges and day-to-day needs facing each family or designing residential improvements to meet the needs of the client addressing the issues raised by the client.”

Throughout his years in practice, Kemper has also stayed involved with his law school and the Alumni Association. He has mentored incoming students for a number of years.  Kemper has served as a CSULAA trustee, was appointed to the Association’s Executive Committee from 2008-2014 and received the CMLAA President’s Award in 2012. At the request of the Association Board, Kemper established and chaired much a needed Finance Committee, and the Audit to review and to objectively analyze the financial history and accounting procedures used by the Association. Since 2015, Kemper has been an CSULAA Honorary Trustee.

“I enjoyed serving on the Board of the CMLAA for many years, meeting the challenges faced by the executive committee, all the while complimenting the needs of the law school,” explained Arnold. “Whether serving on various committees, regularly being involved with continuing education programming, or mentoring law students, the rewards I experienced with such participation far outweighed the time I spent at the law school.”

Kemper has earned the designations of Accredited Estate Planner® and Accredited Investment Fiduciary in 2016. He received the President’s Award from the National Society of Financial Service Professionals and was recognized as the Financial Services Planner of the Year by the Cleveland-Akron Society of Financial Service Professionals in 2017.

Kemper is a Past President of the Cleveland-Akron Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals. He is a member and frequent speaker for the Ohio Association for Justice, the Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Cuyahoga County Bar Association) and the Supreme Court Judicial College of Probate Judges.

Kemper finds work-life balance to be paramount. He considers his children and their spouses as his best friends his four grandchildren as the center of his and his wife’s world.  He has also made a special connection offering support to the Lost Boys of the Sudan, a group of approximately 40 Sudan refugees that arrived in Cleveland in the early 2000s and have continued to establish roots for the past two decades.  

 

What does being named CSULAA Alumni of the Year mean to you?

Receiving recognition as this year’s Annual Recognition Luncheon honoree is an unexpected acknowledgement of my on-going interest in being engaged with the CSU College of Law. It is with humility and great appreciation that I receive this distinction.

 

Kemper will be honored at the CSU Law Alumni Association Annual luncheon Tuesday, May 21.

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