Allegheny Alumnus Makes a Difference as Criminal Defense Lawyer
Adam VanHo ’98 has dedicated his career to defending those in a state or federal court on civil, criminal, or family law matters. Still, he reflects on how Allegheny College prepared him to face an unknown future.
“The biggest thing that Allegheny taught me is to never be afraid to keep learning or try new things,” VanHo says. “Allegheny taught me to explore and be both creative and explorative. In my career, I have taken on challenges and cases that were outside of my normal practice areas — and been able to succeed.”
After graduating from Allegheny College with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in writing, VanHo pursued law school at Cleveland State University. As a law student, he interned for the United States Attorney, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Philadelphia District Attorney, and Sam Sheppard.
“Our entire legal system is based on history,” VanHo says. “I have found myself often arguing complex issues of constitutional law — sometimes in writing, but often on my feet — and use the analytical skills I picked up in Arter Hall to help me on a regular basis with those arguments.”
Once he earned his law degree, he served in the Montgomery and Summit County Prosecutor’s Office. Soon after, VanHo joined the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, where he focused on the death penalty and organized crime cases. He would later work for Burdon and Merlitti before starting his ligation firm, VanHo Law.
“I have had a lot of opportunities over the years and have been able to make a big difference in many people’s lives,” VanHo says. “When you see someone who has turned around their lives — abandoned drugs or had their children returned — it is magical.”
In his downtime, VanHo is the owner of Raging River Coffee Company, a small roastery that he began with his family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
VanHo advises current students to “volunteer or try an internship outside of your normal range — ask those questions that are in the back of your head — offer to speak out on issues you care about when you would normally sit down and stay silent.”