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Elif Dalboy Learns About US Law As First Law Student at Hamilton County Legal Help Center

At many universities in this country, opportunities for international students can be hard to come by. Fortunately, Cincinnati Law’s LLM program encourages and enables its students from around the world to gain practical experience in the American legal system. One such student, Elif Dalboy, has become the first LLM students to volunteer Hamilton County Municipal Court Help Center.

Dalboy was raised in Izmir, Turkey. She is a graduate of Dokuz Eylul University, where she earned her Bachelor’s of Law. She is now pursuing her Masters at Ankara University, focusing on private international law, particularly where it pertains to conflict-of-law issues, refugee law, and citizenship law.

She is now here at UC to learn more about the American legal system.

The Help Center was established in fall 2017 in order to provide more access to the legal system for low-income Cincinnatians who cannot afford expensive legal advice. It has already provided cost-free assistance to thousands.

Dalboy speaks directly to these citizens-in-need, ensuring that they are given the proper paperwork. She learns from the center’s director, attorney Rob Wall (a Cincinnati Law graduate). Most of the cases Dalboy deals with involve landlord-tenant disputes and small claims.

Dalboy calls her experiences in the Help Center have been “eye opening.”

She says, “as a foreign LLM student I chose to volunteer at the Help Center to learn the judicial system firsthand. I can now confidently say that I know how to file a small claims complaint, I know the main steps of an eviction, and I’ve learned other procedural issues and some details that you cannot learn at law school.

At the Help Center, I encounter a wide range of legal issues and have a chance to see real-life legal disputes. I prepare written informational resources that deal with a wide range of legal issues. I provide forms and help self-represented people understand and easily navigate the complex court system.

Overall, I highly recommend volunteering at Help Center for future LLMs.”

Once she has completed the LLM program, Dalboy will set out to achieve her big and challenging career-aspirations. She plans to stay in the United States, preferably in New York City. She would like to practice American law and is also interested in providing legal advice to startups and businesses involved with venture capital.

Her expertise in international law, studies here at Cincinnati Law, and experience in the Help Center have readied her and will certainly give her an advantage!


Opportunities and Knowledge Abound at Ms. JD Leadership Conference; Ayesha Haq Shares Thought on her Experience

Ms. JD is nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that is “dedicated to the success of women in law school and the legal profession.” Last fall, the organization hosted its inaugural National Women’s Law Students Organization (NWLSO) Leadership Academy at Harvard Law School, inviting a small group of law students with outstanding achievements to come and learn about the challenges and opportunities facing women in the legal community.

Second-year law student Ayesha Haq was one of the 45 individuals (selected from over 200 applicants) from across the country to attend the event.

On March 4, 2017 she gave a TEDx talk, “Unpacking the Meaning of Oppression” that examined the identities of Muslim women and the pervasive cultural narratives that surround these identities. See the full talk: UCTEDX

Haq is an active leader in the student body: she serves as president of UC’s chapter of the American Constitution Society; she founded and serves as president of the Muslim Lawyers’ Association; she acts as Diversity Chair for UC Law Women. She is also a Fellow with the Ohio Innocence Project.

The NWLSO required applicants to explain how they seek to affect the condition of women within their particular community. Haq’s application highlighted similar concerns to those given in her recent TEDx talk, expressing how she “wanted to change the narrative of understanding Muslim women.” She recalls first coming to the College of Law, and initially feeling worried that she was the only JD student wearing a hijab. As she began dialogue with other students, however, she gained confidence and founded the school’s chapter of the Muslim Lawyer’s Association, where she leads students with concerns similar to her own.

The NWLSO was impressed with Haq’s application, and, thus, she began her journey.

At the Leadership Academy Haq took advantage of many opportunities to learn about how to address challenges women face in the legal field. She learned about the urgent need for women to negotiate better salaries in order to address the issue of gender pay-gaps. Haq also learned from experts with a range of expertise. For instance, she participated in a seminar hosted by Diane Darling, a fulltime networking specialist, who guided the students in learning how to use body language to exude confidence and control professional situations.

Haq learned that men tend to “make themselves larger” in rooms, while women tend to contract. Women in professional settings benefit from breaking the habit of contracting, as taking about more space allows them to nonverbally display their confidence and expertise.

Haq remains committed as ever to social justice and the narratives of Muslims. Her views on these issues are highly nuanced as she observes historical tensions between liberalism and religion. She notes that in a nation like France, secularism is a potent force, making Muslim integration a difficult matter. Still, she focuses primarily on the condition of Muslim American women, as her own experience lends her authority on the subject, and she can relate to others.

3L Ashton Tucker Shares What it’s Like to Win Her First Jury Trial

Working at the City of Cincinnati’s Prosecutor’s Office has been the most rewarding experience of my law school career. This is especially true after I received my limited license in July. When my office asked me to try a case to a jury, I jumped at the chance. Not only is this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a law student, I’d also had a number of near misses – missed opportunities to work on a jury trial due to last minute plea deals and other unforeseen reasons. It felt like a great honor to be asked; that they would trust me with such immense responsibility was humbling. My supervisor (another Cincinnati Law grad, Chris Liu) handed me the file, promised me we’d try the case together (I still have to be supervised, naturally), and sent me on my way.

Of course, reality set in soon. I was terrified. I’d had bench trials before, but the stakes are higher with a jury. You have to make eight people believe in your theory – in your interpretation of the facts. I’m a third-year law student and only two semesters removed from a Criminal Procedure class. What do I even know about the law anyway?

Well, the truth is, I knew more than I thought. I knew that preparation was key and so, I spent two days coming up with questions for direct examination. I knew from first year Advocacy not to read from a script, but instead, to remember an outline and speak authoritatively – even when your hands are shaking. I learned how and when to object from Evidence.

In the end, it was what I learned at Cincinnati Law that helped me win over the jury and get a conviction.

From Working on the Human Rights Quarterly to Working Inside the International Criminal Court… Erin Rosenberg’s Winding Career

From January 8 through 12, Cincinnati Law had the pleasure of seeing one of its alumni, Erin Rosenberg (Class of ’11) return to teach JD students a specialized week-long course in international criminal law, a relatively new and fascinating field.

When Rosenberg graduated Cincinnati Law, she embarked on a different journey than the one she had intended to undertake when she began her legal studies. She recalls:

“I worked the decade before I came to law school in politics, the legislative side of things. I didn’t have any interest in international criminal law whatsoever. None. I [came] to the University of Cincinnati specifically for the Urban Morgan Institute.”

There, she had been selected as a Fellow, and she saw great opportunity in the exciting, meaningful summer internships offered by the Institute. She wanted to get involved with human rights worldwide, not criminals worldwide.

Rosenberg’s first internship was in the Republic of Botswana, where she worked for Botswana’s first female Judge, Unity Dow at the High Court. All was going according to plan, and she was gaining valuable experience in the sort of international law she intended to pursue professionally.

Her second summer, however, saw her initial internship plans fall through. Rosenberg was exploring potential alternatives when Professor Bert B. Lockwood suggested working for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). She “didn’t have anything else set up,” so she took the suggestion, not yet realizing what a pivotal step this would be (she knew, of course, that it sounded pretty cool for a plan B).

Through this work, Rosenberg “fell in love with international criminal law.” She finished her JD, passed the bar exam, and immediately returned to the ICTY, where she worked for one more year.

She was then recruited to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where she has worked since 2012.

The ICC serves a different purpose than many might expect. Its functions are separate from those within the Human Right’s field, like dealing with shortages of food and water. Its purpose is instead to bring to justice and make reparations for international crimes. States must voluntarily agree to become member states, and at present, 123 from around the world have agreed to do so.

Rosenberg works as an Associate Legal Officer, which she explains is essentially the equivalent of a law clerk for a judge.

Almost immediately after she arrived at the ICC, the first reparations case in the court’s history had come to the Appeals Chamber. It was an entirely new type of case for the ICC, and it became Rosenberg’s responsibility to make sense of it. She recalls that she “developed a unique background and expertise in reparations simply because I was there.”

In 2015, Silvia Fernández became President of the ICC and asked Rosenberg to become her legal officer in the Appeals Division—a great honor and an immense responsibility. Fernández decided that the Trust Fund for Victims (a part of the ICC that serves to implement reparations) needed legal support. For the past two years, Rosenberg “has been on loan,” as she puts it, from the Appeals Division to the Trust Fund.

Rosenberg’s work at the Trust Fund has been to figure out how to take court ordered reparations and figure out how they can be implemented. Sometimes this task calls for creativity and communication.

For instance, in the case of Lubanga Dyilo, a man convicted for crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the trial chamber asked Rosenberg to explore “symbolic, commemorative restorations.” The trial chamber suggested a statue that would commemorate former child soldiers.

Rosenberg spoke with the community that had been plagued by Dyilo’s activities. They were not fond of the statue idea; in their culture, statues are only for heroes, not for victims or painful memories. They stated that they would prefer something interactive to something static. In consulting them, Rosenberg found that the community would prefer a center where former child soldiers could come together and heal through programs in which “art, dance, and painting give them a chance to tell their own stories.”

Rosenberg presented the community’s view to the Trial Chamber, and the center was built.

Rosenberg brings wisdom to UC Law students who are looking for opportunities abroad. Her course provided an introduction to international criminal law and also explored reparations, examining what they are in a criminal context and how they are implemented in that context.

She advises UC Law students not to assume that members of the European legal community will be familiar with UC or even the Urban Morgan Institute. Rather, she says, “If you say, ‘I worked on the Human Rights Quarterly,’ everyone knows what that is. When I was hired at the ICC and went to the interview, on the bookshelf of the person who was interviewing me was the most recent copy of HRQ.” Rosenberg insists that if you take advantage of the opportunity to work for the journal, read the

articles, and attend the dinners, more doors will open up for you. “It is one of the most well-known and well-respected publications in the field.”

By: Pete Mills, communication graduate assistant

Learning from a Legal Giant: My Week with Professor Arthur Miller

By: Connor Organ, Third-year Law Student

Few law students have the opportunity to learn from a professor who wrote the leading casebooks and treatises on the course’s subject. Even fewer students are fortunate enough to learn from a professor who argued in nearly every landmark case related to the case over the last several decades. And even fewer law students have the opportunity to learn from a professor who can tell stories about sharing jokes and arguments with almost every Supreme Court justice in the last 25 years. But the Chesley Lecture at the College of Law granted less than a dozen students with an intimate learning experience from that professor, Arthur R. Miller.

Professor Miller, University Professor at New York University Law School, is the nation’s leading scholar in the field of civil procedure. He is co-author, with the late Chares Wright, of Federal Practice and Procedure. Miller and Wright are among the most-often cited and well-regarded law treatise writers in the field.

Over a five-day short course on aggregate litigation, Professor Miller discussed class actions and multidistrict litigation. More specifically, the course covered class certification, class types, class counsel, forum selection and rival proceedings, class settlements, and alternative dispute resolution related to aggregate litigation (only a fraction of which is summarized below).

He tied the course together with the theme of diminishing access to courts. As Professor Miller explained, “only a fool or an idiot sues for $30.” At the same time, however, how do you make a group of plaintiffs who individually lack feasible lawsuits whole? For one, plaintiffs might never be made “whole” since, as he explained, “the quest for the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Nonetheless, the law must support aggregate litigation that provides finality for the liable defendant and an adequate remedy for the wronged plaintiff. In Professor Miller’s view, Rule 23 and its case law no longer do that, which effectively denies wronged parties their day in court.

To illustrate his point, Professor Miller explained that although the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) lists four prerequisites, there are two additional, unmentioned requirements that a class must satisfy to become certified: the class must be definable; and the representative has to be a member of the class. Those seemed pretty straightforward.

But then Miller pointed out several less obvious, yet critical prerequisites within Rule 23, which he helped write. He showed that while Rule 23 does not classify any other sections as prerequisites for class certification, in practice Rule 23(b) (which categorizes types of class actions) becomes a significantly difficult prerequisite. The difficulty derives from strategic implications that attorneys must consider when packaging their clients into one or more of Rule 23(b)’s three types. These implications involve preclusion, damages, opting out, and choice of law, among others. In effect, class type is critical because it sets parameters for class certification, the driving force of all class action litigation. And while this oversimplified summary is just one facet of Professor Miller’s course, it built the foundation for additional discussion on other important topics within the areas of class actions and MDLs.

Beyond explaining how policies shaped the laws of class actions and MDLs, how the law has developed, and how attorneys and courts apply the current law, Professor Miller interwove fascinating personal experience to draw the class’s attention and encourage unique perspectives. In doing so, he transformed the course from a difficult analysis of complex law to a consumable storyline from which practical application logically followed. I am grateful to Professor Miller for his time and insight into his area of expertise. As a down-to-earth intellectual, he entertained us and at the same time taught several practical, valuable areas of the law in just five days. My only complaint is that the course wasn’t longer.

Call to Action: Connecting Students to the Profession

Now more than ever, alumni play a pivotal role in student career development. When it comes to careers “experience matters,” says Mina Jones Jefferson '90, Chief of Staff, Associate Dean and Director, Center for Professional Development (CPD). Connecting students to alumni is an active pursuit among the CPD, six-attorney team because they know that through networking students refine their career aspirations and make informed employment decisions. “We need your time and your experiences,” says Dean Jefferson. “When students call, be responsive. You may feel that you have little to offer, but your time is everything. If appropriate let them visit your office or attend a function with you…show them what lawyers do.”

The CPD strikes a balance between introducing students to alumni on campus as well as integrating students into the broader legal community. On any given day you will find an alumnus/a on campus serving as a panelist, interviewing students or networking with students at a Coffee Corner or lunchtime event. The CPD also enjoys formalized alumni support through the College’s Board of Visitors (BOV). Led by Dan Buckley ’74, the BOV Professional Development Committee actively partners with CPD to identify and cultivate experiences for students, be it symposia or the expansion of an existing program like C-Start.

Making An Impact

The CPD hosts a variety of programs that expose students to the workplace and two of the most impactful thrive on alumni support – Catalyst and C-Start.

Catalyst is an eight week, micro-mentoring program that delivers a big impact with a small investment of time. Catalyst folds our students into the lives of attorneys and provides practical exposure to the profession. Typically, attorneys introduce students to their work setting and attend an additional event such as a bar association event, a community-based event/program, or a committee meeting; however, you determine what works best.

Although Catalyst draws volunteers from the entire legal community, it is very popular with by Cincinnati Law alumni.

Catalyst 2018 begins on Friday, February 16, 2018, 3:30-5:00 p.m. at the College of Law and concludes the week of April 16, 2018. More than 300 students have benefitted from the program and the impact on our legal community is just as strong. The February Kickoff is devoted to planning. There you will meet your student group. Based on their interests and stated goals and your calendar, you determine when to meet again. In general you are paired with another attorney and together you are assigned three to four students to mentor.

Alumni partnerships increasingly differentiate law schools in the graduate employment arena. Enter C-START, a corporate graduate fellowship program. These one-year, full-time opportunities are as competitive as judicial clerkships and provide a strong foundation on which graduates can build a career in corporate law. During the year, the fellow develops a valuable skill set which allows them to become more qualified for future employment opportunities.

With the help of alumnus Steve Ewald ’94, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Medpace, Inc., Cincinnati Law launched C-START as a pilot opportunity in 2015. Brian Higgins ’15 was the first C-START fellow and worked at Medpace, Inc. for a period of one year, following graduation. He is now an associate in Frost Brown Todd’s Health Law Practice.

“This is a mutually beneficial program that provides new UC Law graduates with great opportunities to gain valuable, supervised in-house legal experience, while providing us as an employer with bright, motivated and enthusiastic new lawyers. We have been so pleased with the program and we have seen strong competition from the soon to be graduating class and very high ranking candidates who have applied. This is not a program of last resort for students seeking jobs, it is an affirmative choice, and that comes through clearly in the quality and quantity of candidates we have seen”. --Steve Ewald, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Medpace, Inc.

 Jefferson said that the College is actively seeking alumni participants for both programs – Catalyst and C-Start.  The deadline for Catalyst is quickly approaching.  If you are unable to participate perhaps you know someone who can.  Similarly If you are interested in learning more about C-Start, please contact her ( or Paula Lampley ‘92 (

Giving Back With Your Time & Talents

For double Bearcat Tom Cuni (BA 1969, JD 1975), the practice of law is about more than bringing home a paycheck.

“People who come to law have this imperative to help people and make a living,” says Cincinnati Law alum Tom Cuni.

“There’s a good deal of satisfaction in doing that.” Cuni has had a long, successful career, primarily spent representing small businesses. As a partner at Cuni, Ferguson & LeVay Co., LPA, he represented clients in 600+ civil cases with approximately 100 going to trial to either the bench or a jury. These days he no longer represents clients in his legal practice, but he does volunteer his time for work in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court along with helping local non-profits and mentoring law students.

Getting Started on the Volunteer Train

Cuni started volunteering at Cincinnati Law a few years ago when, speaking at a Coffee Corner hosted by the Center for Professional Development, he learned the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) needed supervising attorneys. “I thought it’d be a good fit,” he commented.

Cuni’s decades of small firm experience and background in representing small businesses made him a great fit for ECDC. He spent several semesters supervising and mentoring clinic students, even working over the summer with them at the Hamilton County Business Center and Mortar, a local entrepreneurship lab.

“I really have a good time,” he said.

In addition to supervising, he was worked with the ECDC to bring legal seminars to the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati; he also plans to assist with organizing a seminar for Mortar clients later this year.

“The Clinic has a remarkable learning curve,” he said. “You can see a significant difference in the students from the start to the end of the semester. That’s one of reasons I love volunteering to work with law students, especially at the start of their careers.

“Besides, I like being busy,” Cuni, who jokingly refers to himself as ‘semi-retired,’ said.

He shared that he likes to be involved. In fact, for most of his professional life, he has been involved in some form of volunteer work, starting with the local Bar Association in the 90s. This led to position as a trustee on the board and, eventually, to the position as Cincinnati Bar Association Board president. “This took a good deal of my time, but I realized my business did very well when I was very busy.” He acknowledged he learned to manage his time efficiently and make decisions quickly. He didn’t have time to waste.

But as Cuni left the role of board president, he was approached by three representatives involved with ProKids, a non-profit organization which provides help for abused, neglected, or dependent children who are involved in proceedings in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court. They invited him to bring his skills and talents to that board and organization. Now, he spends two to three days per week volunteering as an attorney for ProKids’ Guardians ad Litem who look after the best interest of the children in the court system.

“I started as a litigator and I created my job all over. It’s just for free now,” he says.

“I rarely see the kids I help. I deal with the guardian ad litem. A good amount of the time, though, the kids really benefit. I like to believe that their lives are changed for the better in part because of the work that I do.”

Connecting the Dots; Paying it Forward

After a hearing one day, Magistrate Scheherazade Washington spoke with him about the need for more lawyers to work in this this practice area. “I asked her ‘What does this mean to me? Am I supposed to do something?’ The magistrate smiled and said yes.”

After getting some good advice on the subject, Cuni helped bring together Tracy Cook, the Executive Director of ProKids and a UC law alum; Verna Williams, now interim dean of the College; and Kimberly Helfrich, the Director of the Guardian ad Litem Division of the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office to talk about what they could do to start addressing this issue.

The result was a Juvenile Law class which takes students through a typical juvenile court case. “I think the class was very successful and I hope it continues,” Cuni said.

Not content to volunteer in just these areas, Cuni also is working with ECDC Director Lew Goldfarb on a new project that would expand legal services in the community. “It is an interesting project we’re developing,” he said. More details will be coming soon!

For Cuni, volunteering isn’t just about doing what he feels is right. It also has practical implications.

“People hire who they know. Join community organizations. Meet people. Talk with them. Volunteer your time and skills. It doesn’t immediately result in business, but over time people will get to know you and will hire you—because they know who you are (and have worked alongside you)” says Cuni.

“You can find real satisfaction from that part of your life [volunteering]. Personally, I know I’ve helped with projects that have value and that I’ve helped to influence. You get the sense you’re helping to make positive changes.

“And that’s a good feeling.”

Panel Discussion Examines the Contours of Free Speech, Equality

speech equality

With the background of an impending University of Cincinnati campus visit from alt-right activist Richard Spencer, a panel of professors gathered for an open discussion on free speech and equality on campus. The event was held on Monday, January 22 in the Tangeman Hall Cinema. It was moderated by Interim Dean Verna Williams, who in her opening statement, declared that this discussion would examine “the contours of free speech and equality.”

The panel consisted of Dr. Eric Jenkins from the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. John Paul Wright from the College of Education, Criminal Justice, Human Services, and Information Technology, and Professor Ronna Schneider from the College of Law.

Professor Schneider was the first to speak. She stated, “I fell in love with the first amendment in my first year of law school, and I’ve been in love ever since.” Schneider focused on the legal side of the free speech discussion, noting that “hate speech” is difficult to define and that an outright ban on something so vague could yield unintended consequences. She also noted that the courts have not interpreted first amendment rights as absolutes and reminded the audience that the courts have reversed their own rulings in the past.

Dr. Wright spoke next. He was deeply concerned with preserving academic freedom and keeping universities as homes for open dialogue. He said, “I think free speech is the lifeblood of a university, and it’s our duty and obligation as scholars to protect it even when those who exercise it do so in a way that violates our own value systems.” Wright believes that suppressing speech—even vile speech—never benefits society.

Lastly, Dr. Jenkins spoke, and he offered insight that came from his research on communications in media. He observed that sometimes words go beyond speech and serve as actions (such as when one says “I do” in a wedding ceremony). Jenkins argued that “Spencer’s acts are intended to provoke and bully and therefore should not be considered free speech. Shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater is not considered protected free speech and he’s essentially doing the same thing.”

Several students posed questions to the speakers, sharing their concerns and opinions. It was evident that UC’s student body grasped the gravity of both Constitutional rights and this university’s commitment to equality.

Writer: Pete Mills, graduate communication writer
Date: January 23, 2018

Professor Mark Godsey Named 2018 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award Recipient

Cincinnati, OH— Verna Williams, interim dean at the College of Law, has announced that Professor Mark Godsey, veteran prosecutor, professor and director of the College’s Ohio Innocence Project, is this year’s recipient of the Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award. This award recognizes outstanding research and scholarly achievement by a member of the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Professor Godsey will deliver a public lecture in the next academic year.

Professor Godsey is the Daniel P. and Judith L. Carmichael Professor of Law and Director of the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project. His scholarship focuses on wrongful convictions and police interrogation. Professor Godsey and the staff and students in the Ohio Innocence Project have thus far freed 25 individuals who were wrongfully convicted and incarcerated in the state of Ohio.

His book, BLIND INJUSTICE: A FORMER PROSECUTOR EXPOSES THE PSYCHOLOGY AND POLITICS OF WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS, was published by the University of California Press in the fall of 2017. It was selected for "best book of 2017" lists and has been favorably reviewed and widely discussed in the national media from Salon and Daily Kos to Time, The Economist and The Nation. In December, the Cincinnati Opera announced that it is creating an opera based on the book, to premiere in 2019. A television series based on the book is also currently in the works.

From 2008 to 2017, Professor Godsey served on the Executive Board of the Innocence Network, the organization representing Innocence Projects in the United States and around the world, and currently serves as co-chair of the Network's International Committee. He has been a leading figure in spreading awareness of wrongful convictions, and with assisting lawyers and scholars in other countries to establish mechanisms for fighting wrongful convictions. Professor Godsey has widely lectured and consulted on the subject in Asia, Africa and Europe, and serves on the board of the European Innocence Network.

Professor Godsey is also a regular commentator on issues relating to criminal law and wrongful conviction in both the local and national press, and has appeared nationally on Larry King Live, Dateline NBC, CNN, ESPN, BBC, Forensic Files, and NPR among others. He is frequently quoted in papers and magazines across the country, including The New York Times, Newsweek, People and the Wall Street Journal. In 2017, Time highlighted Professor Godsey as a leading figure in the movement, profiling his career and many of his cases over the years. He is also the editor of the Wrongful Convictions Blog and a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.

UC Law Trial Practice team win unanimous vote at the annual Case Classic Trial Competition

Law Trial Practice team

Late November, 2017, the UC Law Trial Practice team swept the competition at the annual Case Classic Trial Competition, hosted by Case Western University Law School. UC’s team of Ben Sandlin, Allie Soisson, and Annie McClellan (all second year students), did not merely win; they earned the votes of every judge in every round, an uncommon and fantastic feat!

The Case Classic Trial Competition, held annually for over a decade, is sponsored by the Jonathan M. Ault Mock Trial Board. The board invites teams from Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, and Alabama to compete. According to Case Western’s website, “The Case Classic provides a competitive collegial environment for multiple teams to tune up for the spring competition season.”

The competition has four rounds, two on each day. Within each round, two teammates act as either the defense or prosecution, until a certain point at which the opposing teams switch sides. Typically, a student who acts as a lawyer for the first half will play witness during the second, allowing teams of four to divide their work evenly. Sandlin, however, put his legal skills and Cincinnati Law training to the test and acted as both a prosecutor and a defendant.

UC’s team could sense that they were performing well, but they had no way of being certain. “The students don’t know where they’re stacked in the rounds,” says Professor Marjorie Corman Aaron, the team’s coach and director of the Center for Practice. “They have a sense [of how well they are performing] based on the feedback of the judges,” but the judges keep their scorecards hidden. Soisson recalled, “I was fairly confident that we were doing well throughout the competition, [but] we played several other talented teams, so I definitely didn’t think that we were undefeated.”

Interestingly, UC’s mock trial team has for years now received special coaching from trained actors. The year, the additional help came from CCM fellows Steven Rimke and Ann Marie White. Both Rimke and White are students of the prestigious Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, which sends its students across the world to hone their professional experience.

Soisson notes that Rimke and White enabled her to “think about how I am communicating with the jury. Most the time I focus on what words I want to use, but rarely do I think about how.”

Rimke says the training “focused on voice. We’re looking at inflections and different tones and using them effectively to make a pitch.” The team was “very receptive” and he was impressed with their progress.

Now, whether they become lawyers (or start new adventures as actors utilizing their royal training!), the Cincinnati Law community can applaud the accomplishments of this impressive trial team.

Additional appreciation for their dedication of time, experience and insight goes to the following trial practice co-faculty and coaches: Terry Nestor and Peter Stackpole, Alex Rodger, Matt Wiseman, and Dan Donnellon.

By: Pete Mills