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Next Up Columbus 2021: Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista

Photo by Allison Leanord

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Jose Bautista
Pronouns: he/him
Age: 31
Profession: Legal Counsel at Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
Neighborhood: Clintonville
Education: JD from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; Licensed to practice law in Ohio; BA from the University of Chicago
Community Involvement: Ohio Legal Help (Board Member)
Words to live by: “Querer es poder.”
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook

Give us a snapshot of your career path: I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and attended undergrad at the University of Chicago. I really spent most of my life in Chicago until attending law school at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t 100% sure where my law degree would take me, but as a first-generation college graduate it seemed like a smart move at the time. I’m so glad I made that decision.

I lucked out during my first summer clerkship when I was assigned an interesting intellectual property (IP) project. I was fascinated to learn how the law was adapting and evolving to handle new ideas, technologies, and creative works. That summer I sought whatever other IP projects the firm had, and when I returned to law school I took every IP course offered. My trademark professor happened to be the lead IP counsel at Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), and he was one of my early mentors in my career. The summer after I took his course, an internship position on his team became available and I jumped at the opportunity. I interned at A&F that following summer and throughout my final year of law school.

Upon graduating I joined the Bricker & Eckler law firm where I continued to practice IP law and litigation. It was great experience, but a year later a full-time position on the A&F IP team opened up, and it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. While I was a bit short on experience as a licensed attorney, the team at A&F knew what I was capable of and gave me the chance to succeed in-house. I’ve been at Abercrombie for just over 5 years now and I love what I do today. The legal team at A&F is full of amazing legal professionals, and it’s rewarding to be part of such an iconic and evolving organization.

What drives you?
Like so many other immigrant families, my grandparents risked everything and came to this country in search of a better life for their families. Their sacrifices and perseverance paved the way for the amazing opportunities I’ve had in my life. I work to continue down that path, not only for myself, but for any others who are on a similar path.

How have mentors helped guide you along the way?
I believe mentorship is extremely valuable, and I have had so many mentors who have helped me in my path. One of the best things I’ve learned is to know my own worth. Especially as a minority in my field, it can be difficult to see myself reflected in leadership in the legal community and create doubt that I belong. My mentors have continually reminded me that I do belong, and that I am capable of so much. Overcoming that self-doubt has led me to pursue projects, responsibilities, and goals to further my career and personal growth.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
The kitchen has really become my happy place over the years. Growing up, my mother always cooked the most amazing meals, and family dinner was a big deal at our house. The process of coming up with a fun menu, picking out fresh ingredients, pouring love into my cooking and being able to share that with others brings me great joy.

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus/central Ohio?
I don’t know if this counts as a “spot,” but as someone who loves to cook, I always find myself at Weiland’s Market on the weekends. Their meat and seafood counters always have fresh options, and their wine selection is very impressive. If I’m not cooking, I love to go out to eat and explore new cuisines – and Columbus has no shortage of good restaurants. The Crest is a Clintonville favorite of mine, and the menu at Service Bar always has something new and delicious.

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I’m a big animal lover, so as I child I think I wanted to work with animals. I recall an early ambition of exploring the creatures of the ocean as a marine biologist.

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
I’m a big Harry Potter nerd and find myself re-reading those books pretty regularly. Next on my list though are Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and A Promised Land by Barack Obama.

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
It’s honestly a huge honor. Sometimes I do miss my hometown, but I truly feel like I’ve found my place here in Columbus. Being recognized for what I’ve accomplished here reminds me of all I can still do for my community.

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
Flourishing! As someone who grew up in a big city, I feel a lot of that same energy and vibrance here in Columbus. There’s so much potential and talent in Columbus, and I’m excited to be a part of that.


The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2021 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Future Possibilities and Zipline Logistics for their support of this awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2021” »

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