Law student Adrianne Caldwell ’10 came to UC Law to try something new. After living in North Carolina her entire life, she decided she needed a different experience. What better place than Cincinnati? It was far enough from home (only 473 miles) both still close to family, since relatives live in nearby Kentucky. UC’s small class size was appealing. “The fact that it’s a small school creates good bonds between students in each class, and it also provides a lot of opportunities to get involved with various groups,” Caldwell said.
Born in Pineville, North Carolina, Caldwell made her way to Cincinnati after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for her undergraduate studies. She majored in journalism and mass communication and minored in social and economic justice. This is an area of sociology that focuses on understanding the roots of societal issues and working toward rectifying them. Studying these issues undoubtedly has played a role in the decisions she has made regarding her career.
Getting A Handle on Public Interest
Caldwell visited the College of Law during her first-ever visit to Cincinnati. She quickly decided she liked the school and would attend. Now, Caldwell says, she is glad she decided to come here; the camaraderie that exists between law students has been very helpful and an important part of her experience.
When asked why she decided to come to law school after finishing undergraduate degree, Caldwell commented that she knew she wanted to help low income people, and realized that practicing law in a public interest area would allow her the opportunity to do that. Although she was intrigued by the public interest field, however, Caldwell was also interested in learning about the other ways she could utilize her law degree. As a result, she has worked in several practice areas. During the summer between undergrad and law school, she worked in Charlotte, North Carolina at a general practice law firm that did a lot of work in criminal law, including serving court-appointed clients. During her first summer of law school, Caldwell worked at E.W. Scripps in downtown Cincinnati. While there, she worked on employment and media law issues, among others, and assisted with filing documents with the New York Stock Exchange. She also drafted documents for shareholders because the network side of the company was splitting off from the rest of the company.
Although she enjoyed the experience of having worked at various law firms, Caldwell wanted an experience in public interest as well. So, she did a split externship with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. She then went back to North Carolina during her second summer in law school and worked for the Counsel for Children’s Rights, the community's leading voice for children's rights, dedicated to serving children and connecting them to vital services. Caldwell served as a member of the Counsel’s defense team, utilizing her 3L practice license in North Carolina to gain hands-on experience in the court room advocating for juvenile clients to be released from detention centers. “I worked with a lot of supportive people,” she said, “and they really wanted me to get as much hands-on experience as possible.” In addition to representing clients in detention hearings, Caldwell also had the opportunity to second chair on trials involving the defense of accused juvenile offenders. Part of her job was completing research to prepare for those hearings, along with working with the investigators to get pictures of the crime scenes, interview witnesses, and complete other investigatory functions. Caldwell also had the opportunity to be involved in hearings for children in mental health facilities which, she said, was a really interesting experience. “It’s a much more informal proceeding,” she explained, “because the judge goes to the facility and talks to the juveniles, rather than the hearing taking place in a court room.” Overall, Caldwell was able to gain significant hands-on experience in many different aspects of practice, including interviewing and trial preparation.
Group Activities Are Critical to the Law School Experience
During law school, Caldwell has been very involved both inside and outside of school. She is currently serving as the president of the Black Law Student Association, is also a member of the Christian Legal Society, and is an articles editor for the Freedom Center Journal. Additionally, she is a member of the Moot Court Executive Board and is a judges’ coordinator for the National Rendigs Moot Court competition. In this role she recruits national judges to come to Cincinnati and judge the national competition. Part of her role on the executive board is also recruiting judges for UC’s intramural competitions. Finally, Caldwell also serves as a student ambassador for the College of Law, assisting with recruiting students to the law school. A particular interest of hers is diversity. Thus, in her role as an ambassador she talks about diversity opportunities and why UC Law is a good fit. Caldwell has also made efforts to enhance diversity at the law school in other ways, particularly through BLSA.
Life Outside of Law School
Though her work inside the law school keeps her busy, Caldwell has still found time to work on various projects outside of school too. She is a graduate assistant for UC’s Office of Judicial Affairs. That office has a partnership with the VLT Charter School in Cincinnati, and in her position Caldwell mentors female students, encouraging them to go to college and helping to improve their life skills. In the little free time she does have, Caldwell enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She is also involved in Crossroads Church.
After graduation, Caldwell plans on taking the North Carolina bar exam. She is still searching for a job, however. Caldwell commented that she would love to keep doing juvenile work, as she was this past summer, but that she enjoyed her experiences in firm work as well. She noted that she is leaning toward doing civil work, and that she really enjoyed her experience doing litigation, which is something she would like to continue doing. She is also interested in employment discrimination cases, particularly on the plaintiff’s side.