Cincinnati Law’s Trial Practice Team Advances to National Competition
3Ls Chris Diedling and Rob Jones took home their second win at the regional TYLA Trial Practice competition, putting them in contention for a national win.
Cincinnati, OH - Cincinnati Law’s Trial Practice Team recently competed at the regional Texas Young Lawyer’s Association competition. For the second year in a row, the team successfully advanced to the national level. Third year law students Chris Diedling and Rob Jones are headed to Fort Worth, Texas this week (March 20 – 26) to compete against 14 other regional winners.
“It should be exciting,” said Chris Diedling recently about the upcoming competition. “Last year we felt like the first win was maybe a bit of luck, but we’ve won regionals two years in a row now. We deserve to be there.”
“We’re going to do better this year,” added Rob Jones, “second time around.”
Though they seem confident, Diedling and Jones are not taking the victory for granted. Working alongside a trio of dedicated coaches and collaborative practice with the 2L trial team, they are more than prepared to take their skills to the national level. With long weekly practices, lengthy conference calls with coaches, and tiresome travelling, the entire team shows true dedication among their busy schedules and heavy course work.
“We’ve got some great coaches, Bill Markovits, Zach Schaengold, and Bill Blessings, who basically drop everything to help us do this,” said Jones. “The amount of work and preparation they put into this is mind-blowing, they really help us prepare.
“Specifically, we would do practice once a week. The last couple of weeks we ramped it up to two per week,” said Jones, “but we would also do conference calls between practices with our coaches, and those could be pretty lengthy. The 2L team—Kalisa Mora, Jefferson Kisor, and Jonathan Walker—were good. They’ve helped us immensely in preparing and bouncing ideas off of each other. Practice went for four hours. It was mind-numbing at points, and they were a good laugh. They kept it fun”
All in all, there is more to the trial practice team than tiresome competition with gruesome preparation. Students are benefiting from all of their hard work, whether they win or lose. The practical experience, according to Diedling and Jones, is one the most helpful exercises they can participate in to better their future in law.
“You can only learn so much in a classroom,” said Diedling. “We both want to go into litigation in our careers and this was a way for us to really develop those skills.”
Jones agreed. “It is the most practical thing you can do at law school, especially if you’ve got a practical setting to apply what you’ve been taught.”
About the Texas Young Lawyer’s Association National Trial Competition
Attracting nearly 140 law schools of over 1,000 law students each year, the Texas Young Lawyer’s Association National Trial Competition encourages and strengthens students' advocacy skills through quality competition and valuable interaction with members of the bench and bar. Established in 1975, the program intends to provide a meaningful contribution to the development of future trial lawyers.
Co-sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers, students have the opportunity to win the Kraft W. Eidman Award, consisting of $10,000 to the winning school thanks to the generous donation Fulbright & Jaworski. Beck Redden LLP presents a $5,000 award to the second place team, and each semifinalist team is awarded $1,500 by Polsinelli PC.
Author: Kyler Davis’19, communication intern
Urban Morgan Fellow Travels to the International Criminal Court
Luke Woolman became the first UC Law student to study abroad at The International Criminal Court during his externship with the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights.
Cincinnati, OH – After completing four years of undergrad at Texas Christian University and commissioned as an engineer officer with ROTC, Luke Woolman embarked on a new journey with the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights. With a military background and an interest in international relations, Woolman set his sights on traveling to The Hague, Netherlands to work at the International Criminal Court.
“I’ve always been interested in International relations,” said Woolman, “being with the Urban Morgan Institute, they kind of had different opportunities, and they’ve never had someone go to the ICC before, so I was able to work with them and find a way to get there.”
The International Criminal Court is an intergovernmental organization located in The Netherlands. The treaty that was signed to establish the ICC is called the Rome Statute, which was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on July 17, 1998. This treaty gave the ICC jurisdiction to investigate crimes of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in an international setting. One hundred twenty-four (124) states are currently party to the statute, however, the US formally renounced their signature on May 6, 2002.
“First of all, I was the only American on my floor. Second of all, I was the youngest person by far,” said Woolman. “The court functions in English—English and French are the main languages there—but since America isn’t a party to the ICC, they’re just less Americans there in general. Of the two people that I spent time in the office with, the two visiting professionals, one was from Canada, the other was from Australia. You get a nice mix of people to work with.”
Though Woolman may have been an outsider at the ICC, this was not his first experience studying abroad. During his time at Texas Christian University, he spent a summer working and training with the Thai army. The main challenge at the ICC, according to Woolman, was the adjustment to working with law in the international environment.
“I studied abroad in undergrad and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel, but I’ve never worked abroad,” said Woolman. “It was kind of eye opening, because in your first year of law school you learn about law in the US. The system of law, the general formatting and stuff is completely different at the ICC. It’s pretty much like learning everything all over, but most people that actually go to work at the ICC worked within their country for probably over five years as a lawyer, but it was a good experience.”
After his time spent at the ICC, Woolman is prepared to take on bigger and bolder challenges. His time dedicated to traveling abroad, along with his interest in international relations, has led him on a path toward grand opportunities. Though he doesn’t see himself working at the ICC anytime soon given the tough requirements, his future is solid as he takes on his next summer experience with the Department of Justice.
“(The ICC) is a very competitive place to get a job at. Obviously you’re competing with people all over the world, but they do expect you to at least have five to 10 years of experience in your own country before they even consider hiring you. So maybe when I get to that point I’ll think about it,” said Woolman. “This summer I’m working in DC at the Department of Justice in their criminal section, so I’m looking forward to that. I have the military too, so we’ll see what happens. I hope to probably work for the government here to some degree, ideally the DOJ or some kind of federal agency.”
About the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights
The Urban Morgan Institute has educated and trained human rights lawyers, who promote and protect human rights all over the world. Established at the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1979, the institute has become a model for other human rights programs throughout the country, based on the unique experiences students gain both inside and outside of the classroom.
Writer: Kyler Davis’19, communication intern
Emily Roberts Conducts Field Research in Durban, Africa
2L Emily Roberts reflects on her experience at the Legal Resource Center in Durban, Africa during her externship with The Urban Morgan Institute of Human Rights.
Cincinnati, OH- After their first year of law school, Urban Morgan Fellows are given the opportunity to spend their summer abroad through an externship program. Students work with international judges, human rights attorneys and organizations, governmental agencies, or U.N bodies. The externships provide invaluable hands-on training for the student and much needed assistance to the host organization. For an incoming law student planning on entering the human rights field, it is a chance to gain real-world experience, and begin making a difference before getting a degree.
This was the driving force in Emily Roberts’ decision to enroll in the College of Law, and become an Urban Morgan Institute of Human Rights fellow. As an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa, Roberts studied abroad in Botswana, Africa while obtaining her BA in International Studies and Global Health with a focus in African Studies and Human Rights. She immediately fell in love with South Africa while abroad, and knew she wanted to return. The Urban Morgan Institute was her ticket back.
“I wanted to make sure that I was able to go abroad as much as possible,” said Roberts. “If you’re admitted as a fellow, even before you start school, you’re guaranteed to go abroad after your 1L year.”
After her admittance into the program, Roberts’ dream of returning to South Africa came to fruition. Following her first year, she embarked on her externship at The Legal Resource Center in Durban, Africa. Established in 1979, the center promotes justice for marginalized populations, advocating for those suffering from discrimination regarding race, class, gender, disability, or historical circumstances.
“I was probably only at my desk in our office two out of the five days a week,” said Roberts. “The majority of the time was spent driving out to these far away farms in the middle of no where, and sitting down with these elders who could tell us the story about why the land is so important to them, and what the government is not doing to help them. That’s the type of experience I want as a career.”
Roberts enjoyed the fact that her externship was not a “typical” desk job. Much of her work involved investigating discrimination in land and housing, where she gathered data during numerous field visits. She talked directly to victims, listening first-hand to the stories of men and women who were affected by cases involving the unlawful destruction of their home and property. For Roberts, this was the exact career she hopes to one day pursue. However, her experiences came with many tough challenges and obstacles.
“One of the harder things was the language barrier,” said Roberts. “English is widely spoken, but then there’s also Zulu, which is the biggest tribal language in South Africa. When you’re out in the farms, the residents really don’t have a high level of education, so they most often don’t know English. Me and two other candidate attorneys would do the interview process; they would relay the information to me and translate it. I appreciated that they would take the time to do that.”
Conducting this field work in Durban called for very intimate and close discussion with people who have lived in these areas for generations. Roberts expressed difficulty not only by barrier of language, but also as an outsider to their culture. However, she added that the experience was humbling.
“If you are used to being the majority, go some place where you’re going to feel like the minority,” said Roberts. “Being in a completely different culture, it’s not only just that you’re white and you’re blonde and you’re a girl, but you’re obviously American. I always worry that when you go someplace, especially when you don’t look like everyone else, people are going to think that I’m sort of imposing on their life. I try to blend in as much as possible.”
Victims of Unlawful Destruction
Roberts most impactful project involved the unlawful destruction of an “informal settlement” in rural Durban. After collecting research via field visits, Roberts utilized her education to interpret the crimes against many of the victims in an international context in order to present a viable case to the Legal Resource Center.
“We were trying to bring a suit against the government, not only for damages of property destruction, but also for how it affected the kids that lived in those villages, who were sleeping or playing outside and pretty much saw their homes destroyed right in front of their eyes. I had to really use what I learned, constitutional law based on US Law, and try to apply it to a South African context.”
The service experience and knowledge Roberts gained during her three months spent in Durban will forever be cherished as she embarks on future pursuits to provide justice.
“It was amazing to see one woman who knew so much about her rights,” said Roberts. “You know, she barely knew English but she was able to articulate to me why this was so important to her. We were really thankful for being there and listening to them, because sometimes that’s really all you can do.”
About the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights
The Urban Morgan Institute has educated and trained human rights lawyers, who promote and protect human rights all over the world. Established at the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1979, the institute has become a model for other human rights programs throughout the country, based on the unique experiences students gain both inside and outside of the classroom.
Michael Briach Named 2017 Whitman Fellowship
Michael Briach became the second student selected for the 2017 Whitman Fellowship, which includes a stipend and a summer of experience in civil litigation.
Cincinnati, OH – From early on, Michael Briach knew he wanted to be a lawyer, even as a high school student in his hometown of Youngstown, OH. He centered his coursework and studies around his future aspirations. At the University of Akron, Briach studied political science and criminal justice. After graduating, he was on his way to the University of Cincinnati’s College of Law on the next step to pursue his dreams.
An active member of Moot Court and a student leader with the Honor Council, Briach has dedicated himself to gaining as much knowledge and experience as possible. It paid off when he was awarded the Whitman Fellowship in March.
“I’m extremely happy and satisfied that I was awarded the Whitman,” said Briach. “I’m excited to work with Mark Smith. Just from our short interview, we hit it off. I think it’s going to be a great experience.”
The Whitman Fellowship allows Briach to internship with attorney Mark B. Smith at his firm Mark B. Smith Co., located in Carew Tower. The firm has represented individuals, families and businesses in matters involving bodily injury, wrongful death, general negligence, malpractice, insurance disputes, products and premises liability, and aviation. Briach will work a minimum of 300 hours during the summer and will receive a stipend.
Briach is ready to take on the challenges ahead of him. During his time spent at the College of Law, he’s made sure to dedicate much of his effort in the specific fields that are important for a future in litigation. “I think I’m prepared,” he said. “I took my research and writing classes very seriously. I know that research and writing are critical to being a lawyer in general and I think that will serve me well this summer during the fellowship.”
All in all, Briach is honest in his pursuit. After years of hard work and dedication, the fellowship is simply one more step in achieving a simple goal: to become a lawyer.
“I just want to advocate for my clients, whether that be an injured client, who needs significant representation, or whether that be a business. Whoever I’m advocating for I want to be zealous in my representation, fight hard for my clients, and just really enjoy being a lawyer.”
About the Whitman Fellowship
Through the generous support of Bruce B. & Ginny Conlan Whitman, the College of Law awards one law student with $7,000 stipend to work for an employer that specializes in representing individual plaintiffs and their families in personal rights litigation, tort and employment law, such as those injured by the negligence of another or wrongfully terminated from employment. The recipient will work a minimum of 300 hours on substantive legal assignments under attorney supervision, supporting the employer’s work. The work includes legal research, drafting memorandum, drafting pre-trial litigation documents, filing, and observing meetings/hearings.
Writer: Kyler Davis ’19, communication intern
UC Sports Law Club Competes at National Baseball Arbitration Competition
Two teams from UC Sports Law Club traveled to New Orleans to compete at the Tenth Annual National Baseball Arbitration Competition hosted by Tulane Sports Law Society.
Cincinnati, OH – Some go to New Orleans to party; these students went to compete. This spring semester, six members of UC Law’s Sports Law Club traveled to New Orleans to compete at Tulane University in New Orleans. Nick Kitko (3L), Mickey Sutton (3L), and Zach Johnson (2L) made up one team, while Matt Wagner (2L), Alex Spalding (2L), and Ken Westwood (2L) made the other.
Johnson, Kitko, and Sutton advanced to the quarter finals of the competition, succeeding to the final eight. (Kitko and Sutton competed as 2L’s, making this their second visit to the competition.) Johnson, vice president of the Sports Law Club, shared the team’s experience preparing for their first competition alongside their faculty advisor, Professor James Lawrence.
“The process begins with a written brief, just to make sure you’re doing the work. Tulane doesn’t want people to show up unprepared,” said Johnson. “After we submitted our written briefs, we came back from break a little early. We met with Professor James Lawrence at Frost Brown Todd to talk about our competition and what we were going to do. He helped us prepare, to know what an arbitrator looks for. Before you knew it, we were headed down on a plane the first week of school to compete.”
Professor Lawrence has been an adjunct professor at the law school since 1975. His current practice involves mediation and teaching dispute resolution. As a past chair of the firms’ Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Group, he was able to equip the teams with the necessary knowledge and skills to compete.
“Professor Lawrence read our briefs and talked to us about our oral presentations. He gave us advice on what to do, what not to do, and how to present properly.” said Johnson.
At the 2017 National Baseball Arbitration Competition, the teams were excited to see the guest arbitrators and judges, who were all experts in the field of baseball arbitration proceedings. The assistant manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Nick Krall, was one of many special guests that the teams had the opportunity to meet. Other judges and arbitrators included special assistant to the Philadelphia Phillies, Bryan Minniti; partner of Turner-Gary Sports, Rex Gary; and general counsel to the Major League Baseball Players Association, Dave Prouty—who judged the quarter finals of the competition.
“It was an experience that I cherish,” said Johnson, “especially being a fan of baseball.”
“There’s so much money to be made. Those contracts are massive, I mean, it’s money you can’t even quantify,” said Johnson. “If you’ve reached arbitration, it’s kind of your chance at really making your career a baseball career, rather than something that you’re chasing for a while and moving forward from that.”
After this experience the Sports Law Club is considering attending again next year. “I think we’re going to try to make it more of an official tradition for our Sports Law Society,” said Johnson. The competition definitely serves as a practical and exciting opportunity to apply what is learned in the classroom to real-life situations future attorneys may face.
About the National Baseball Arbitration Competition
The National Baseball Arbitration Competition is a simulated salary arbitration competition held in the early Spring semester at Tulane University. Similar to moot court or practice trial, this arbitration competition is modeled closely to the procedures used by Major League Baseball. The competition’s main goal is to provide participants with the opportunity to sharpen their oral and written advocacy skills within the unique specialized context of Major League Baseball’s salary arbitration proceedings. In addition to the competition, a collection of experts in the field of baseball arbitration serve as judges and discuss legal issues related to baseball.
About Arbitration in MLB
After a player reaches his first three seasons in Major League Baseball, they are eligible for arbitration, meaning that the player has a chance to challenge the club over the amount of money in which they will be paid. These proceedings in Major League Baseball are crucial to the business aspect of the sport, by determining the quantifiable value of each player. Though these proceedings don’t directly deal with the rules and regulations of baseball, arbitration basically resolves disputes in salary between the player and the club. On both the players side, and the club side, evidence and arguments are presented outlining statistics of the player’s performance, comparing the player’s statistics against other players who may have received more or less money, and illustrating other factors such as injuries, temperament, and consistencies throughout the player’s career. After both sides present their best argument, a salary is determined by an objective third party, and a deal is made favoring either the player or the club.
Author: Kyler Davis ’19, communication intern
BLSA Organization and President Support Community Youth, Work to Improve Diversity in Legal Community
3L Rebecca Knight, president of Cincinnati Law’s Black Law Student Association, collaborated with the YMCA’s Black and Latina Achievers Program to create program opening the doors of the legal profession to youth.
Cincinnati, OH – “I believe that every lawyer has an obligation to the community that they serve and that they work in.”
Rebecca Knight, 3L and president of the Black Student Law Association, has had a winding journey to reach her childhood dream of becoming an attorney. With a humble attitude and a passion for law, her hard work and determination would eventually lead her to join Dinsmore and Shohl LLP’s litigation practice after graduation. However, during her time as a student, she has never forgotten the importance of giving back to her community.
Since the age of 12, Knight wanted to be an attorney. Originally from the Washington D.C area, Knight studied political science at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Though she enjoyed her time here at a small liberal arts college, the path ahead of her still remained unclear.
Knight’s passion to help those in need lead her to apply for the Peace Corps after her undergraduate years. However, due to budget cuts during the year of her application, Congress was unable to secure the necessary funding. Knight was not deterred. Soon afterward, she landed back on her feet with a job as a paralegal.
“I’m the first person in my family to graduate from high school,” said Knight. “So I didn’t have any sort of background into what a lawyer does, what it takes to become an attorney, or what makes a good attorney. I really wanted to get my feet wet first, because I thought I knew what I wanted to do, and I thought I had the skill set for it. I allowed myself to test it out first, and it worked out really well.”
Knight spent two years as a paralegal, working full time at a small boutique firm under the direction of five attorneys. Though she recalls the work being daunting at times, Knight’s strong work ethic led her to go above and beyond her responsibilities all the time. When she finally reached the decision to apply for law school, she received overwhelming support.
“All my attorney’s really got behind me,” said Knight. “That’s why I got the opportunities, no other paralegals went to trials and that’s what I did. I drafted briefs, I did pleadings for them to sign, I went to depositions with them from time to time. I knew the cases, I knew the files, and I knew the people. All my attorney’s really got behind me, and that kind of solidified my decision to come to law school.”
Knight “cast the net really wide” in choosing the right law school for her. She was immediately drawn to the history of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Law. She was fascinated by the idea that 27th president and 10th Chief Justice of the United States, William Howard Taft, attended the university. Above all, Knight loved the class size, and the support from the faculty and staff. After her first visit, she fell in love.
“I loved everyone I met,” said Knight. “I remembered being so enamored, these people are incredible, and doing very big things in this city. The professors were engaging; everyone was interested in getting to know me a lot better. It was awesome, no other law school ever treated me like this. It’s a smaller environment and that’s kind of what I wanted.”
After arriving at UC’s College of Law, Knight excelled. In addition to being the editor-in-chief of the Cincinnati Law’s Intellectual Property and Computer Law Journal, and a student leader of Honor Council, Knight takes great pride in being president of the Black Law Student Association.
“My goal coming in as the BLSA president was to make sure that every student of color here has a place,” said Knight. “It can be intimating when you’re one of three black women in the class. It can be very isolating if you are constantly feeling like others might view you differently, you have to work harder to prove them wrong. I want to make sure every student of color that walks into this building feels like they have a safe space, and that’s what BLSA is intended to be.”
The BLSA maintains a strong commitment to the service component of their program. With help from Knight, the organization developed of a collaborative program with the YMCA’s Black and Latino’s Achiever’s program. The purpose is to prepare teenagers for college and beyond by providing them with career exploration opportunities, college visits, toastmasters, scholarships, and more.
The Black and Latinos Achiever’s program has numerous career clusters where students can engage with professionals and learn more about specific professions. However, after dropping off money the BLSA raised for the program in their annual basketball tournament, Knight became aware of an opportunity to really make an impact in her community.
“Last year we raised a little bit over $400 to buy a laptop for a student,” said Knight. “When we went to go drop off our scholarship check, of course, they told me about how the law cluster has been defunct for years now. That made me very sad, especially since I was one of those kids. If I had a program like that when I was younger, I’m sure that my path would have been a lot different, and much more focused. I didn’t know anyone who was an attorney or in law school, so, I had no idea. I could have gotten answers to my questions a lot earlier if there was something like this around. I have to do this; I have to be a part of this.”
Knight and the BLSA developed a curriculum for the Black and Latino Achiever’s Program that included everything a student needs to know to become a lawyer. She highlighted the important skill sets necessary for the work, what to do in undergrad, the LSAT, passing the bar, and other crucial aspects. In the curriculum, Knight even teaches the students about how the government is structured, and how the judiciary branch works.
“We really run them through the gamut,” said Knight, “all the things you can possibly do with law, how they work, and how laws directly impact your everyday life. We’ve even talked about police brutality and how it’s affected communities of color. You could see the light bulbs going off, and that’s when I thought ‘this is what I’m here for.’ We’re supposed to be teaching these kids this. By the end I have 10 kids who say, ‘I want to be an attorney’, and that’s amazing.”
The collaboration with the Black and Latino Achievers program is not only a way to fulfill the service component of the BLSA’s objective, but Knight also views this as an opportunity to make a change for future generations of color. The partnership is a way to directly impact Black and Latino youth in the area to be more involved in law, to overcome societal disadvantages, and make sure teens know that a career in law is attainable.
“If kids don’t know that this is an option for them, how can we increase diversity in the legal community nationwide?” said Knight. “It’s an issue, and it needs to be addressed. This is a small way of doing that. We’ve already made it, we’re here. We’re already very privileged people for being here. So now we need to bring more people through the door with us.”
On April 22nd, the community will have the opportunity to see the program come to life. In a mock trial event, the students in the Black and Latino Achievers program will be showcasing all the hard work they have done and the knowledge they have acquired about the law in a mock trial event at Cincinnati State Community and Technical College. Using a car theft case, students will take on the roles of each person in a court room during a trial.
“It’s an opportunity for the kids to show what they’ve learned,” said Knight. “This gives the parents and others in the community the opportunity to see what they’ve been doing. They understand every single person’s roles in the courtroom. They aren’t just acting out something, they know everything that they are doing.”
Though Knight will be graduating this year and starting her professional career at the Cincinnati offices of Dinsmore and Shohl LLP, her commitment to the community will never end. In addition to supporting the next BLSA president, she will be encouraging her/him to continue the collaboration with the Black and Latino Achievers Program.
“Nobody got here without the help of someone else,” said Knight. “We always want to take credit, but the reality is, if it wasn’t for someone who encouraged us, then we wouldn’t be here now. It’s small, but it’s important. We all need the push, and we’ve all been fortunate enough to have that, and so now we have to turn around and give it to someone else.”
About the BLSA
The University of Cincinnati College of Law’s chapter of the BLSA is part of the National Black Law Student Association. Initially created in 1969, the BLSA existed to open law school doors and enhance the quality of education for African-American students throughout the United States. The organization has been significant in providing African-Americans with providing ample opportunities and access to the field of law during the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and continues into the 21st century. BLSA is determined in preserve and advocate for major increases in the number of African-Americans faculty hired and African-American students admitted into law schools throughout the United States.
About the Black and Latino’s Achievers Program
The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati’s Black and Latino Achiever’s Program is a college readiness and career exploration program, which provides teens with the essential tools to pursue higher education and to identify different career opportunities. The focus of the program is to strengthen the community by strengthening the lives of the youth in the community. Student’s are mentored by career-oriented adults to engage in hands-on learning, college readiness, career development and leadership development. Through workshops, college tours, fundraising and more, the program exists to change the direction of lives. The program has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships, and engaged more than 4,000 adult volunteers though corporate and community sponsors.
Writer: Kyler Davis ‘19, Communication Intern
Professors Mank and Lenhart Receive 2017 Award for Faculty Excellence
Cincinnati, OH—Professors Brad Mank and Elizabeth Lenhart received the university-level Award for Faculty Excellence. This award is given by the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Professor Brad Mank, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the James B. Helmer Professor of Law, is recognized for his service and scholarship contributions to the College of Law. During the last few years, he has published, or had accepted for publication, numerous articles and essays, including articles in the Notre Dame Law Review and the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law. While maintaining an active scholarly agenda, Professor Mank has chaired the Academic Policy and Curriculum (APC) Committee over several years of significant work, has served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and served as co-chair of the site visit committee. Each of these service activities has required significant additional responsibility.
Additionally, Professor Mank is a highly regarded teacher in the areas of administrative, natural resources, and environmental law. And he serves as an advisor to the Immigration and Nationality Law Review (INLR), an internationally recognized, student-run law journal.
Professor Elizabeth Lenhart is recognized for her service and teaching contributions to the College of Law. Professor Lenhart brings significant practical experience with oral arguments, motion practice, and other professional skills to the classes she teaches. Prior to joining the College of Law faculty, she was a senior associate at Frost Brown Todd, focusing on complex business litigation, including all aspects of antitrust, business torts, unfair competition, shareholder derivative suites, and class action litigation. She was named an Ohio Super Lawyer Rising Star 2009 for commercial litigation.
Professor Lenhart is a gifted teacher, having received the College of Law’s Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching three times (in 2011, 2014, and 2016). In addition to her consistent high level of service to the College of Law, Professor Lenhart undertook a significant service project this year. She research and then drafted a report titled “Legal Research at the University of Cincinnati, College of Law; An Informal Report Based on Conversations with Practitioners and Students about What We’re Doing Right – and What We Can Do Even Better.” Her report was based on discussions with law students and members of the Cincinnati Bar about the research skills necessary to be a successful lawyer. As technology and the legal research landscape continue to evolve, her report and continuing research into methodologies of legal research will contribute to the College of Law’s ongoing evaluation of its learning outcomes in the area of legal research.
About the Award for Faculty Excellence
The Award for Faculty Excellence is intended to annually recognize outstanding faculty members in each college who represent excellence in all its forms. These awards are for those individuals nominated by their dean in recognition for exceptional performance in their college or department during the past year. They may have done an outstanding job of service in an especially significant fashion; perhaps their research has received special recognition; or their teaching has been especially innovative or important in meeting new milestones or changing the department or college culture. It is important that the nominee embody the Principles of a Just Community in practice through civility, honor, inclusion, integrity, or the promotion of justice.
Professor Solimine Receives University’s Excellence Award for Research Mentoring
Professor Michael Solimine receives the university-level Excellence Award for Faculty-to-Faculty Research Mentoring, a new award given by the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research.
The Excellence Award for Faculty-to-Faculty Research Mentoring is intended to annually recognize outstanding faculty members in each college who have demonstrated research mentorship with faculty at various stages of their careers. Research mentorship may come in various forms, with the understanding that many times mentorship is discipline-specific, and these various forms of mentorship will be considered equally. The award decision will be made at the dean’s discretion based on criteria that include demonstrable mentoring activities that support the development and success of peer faculty in clinical, translational, or basic science research.
This award is meant to recognize faculty contributions to their respective colleges, to the UC research enterprise, and to recognize the mentoring and support of emerging research faculty.
Professor Solimine has taught at the College of Law since 1986, received tenure in 1991, and since 1994 has served as the Donald P. Klekamp Professor of Law. He has demonstrably achieved excellence in research, teaching and service throughout that period.
With regard to research, Professor Solimine is nationally and internationally recognized as one of the leading scholars in the American civil litigation systems, including civil procedure, federal courts, conflict of laws, as well as election law. His scholarly work consists of six books (a monograph on federal courts (Greenwood Press), a casebook on appellate practice (West Publishing), two casebooks on election law (Carolina Academic Press), and two books for judges and lawyers on civil practice in Ohio courts (LexisNexis), and over 60 substantial articles, as well as numerous book reviews and shorter essays. His articles have been published in both peer-reviewed journals (e.g., Journal of Legal Studies, Supreme Court Economic Review) and in the law reviews of the top-ranked law schools in the United States (e.g., Michigan Law Review; Wisconsin Law Review; North Carolina Law Review; Ohio State Law Journal; Cornell International Law Journal; Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy). He has been invited to participate in and has published in 20 symposia, delivered scholarly papers at annual meetings of the Association of American Law Schools, and the Midwest Political Science Association, and by invitation contributed essays to academic blogs.
Professor Solimine has received four separate recognition awards from the College of Law for his scholarship. This spring he will receive the university’s Faculty Career Award. The distinguished character of his work is reflected in the numerous times his work has been cited and discussed in other books and articles. His work has been cited and discussed in over 2000 books and articles. Also, his work has been cited in the decisions of numerous federal court decisions (including the U.S. Supreme Court), and by the state supreme courts of Ohio and Iowa.
Professor Solimine has made frequent mentoring contributions. At the College of Law he has often served as chair of the RPT Committee, which plays an important role in mentoring faculty. Professor Solimine consistently reads and comments on works in progress of his colleagues, often providing critical input on articles and books. He also regularly assists colleagues at the College by providing them research and other materials relevant to their work.
Congratulations to Professor Solimine who truly demonstrates an ongoing commitment to research mentoring.
Evin King Released as OIP Celebrates #25
After maintaining his innocence for 23 years, Evin King was released due to the hard work, dedication and efforts of the Ohio Innocence Project.
Cincinnati, OH—Yesterday, April 19, 2017 the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) team watched a now-familiar scene playout as its client Evin King was released at the Cuyahoga County Courthouse by Judge Brian Corrigan. In 1995 King was convicted of murdering his girlfriend despite no direct evidence of guilt, such as an eyewitness account or forensic evidence. Now, 23 years later, he is a free man. King and the OIP’s other 24 freed clients have together spent more than 470 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.
Cincinnati Law’s Assistant Clinical Professor Jennifer Bergeron said "Mr. King was wrongfully convicted, and never gave up hope. It's hard to wrap your mind around how agonizing it must have been the past many years to have proof that you are innocent, but the courts and prosecutors simply refuse to look at the case again. This victory is a testament to the character and will of Evin King."
A Look at His Journey
In 1994 King’s girlfriend, Crystal Hudson, was found in a closet, raped and strangled. King was convicted based on his relationship to the victim and his alleged inconsistent statements surrounding his whereabouts on the day of the crime.
DNA testing of the semen from the rape kit and skin cells under the victim's fingernails demonstrated that Evin King was not the perpetrator. For years prosecutors did not respond to King’s motions for relief, even though the evidence of King's innocence was clear. And the trial court did not act on King's post-conviction motion for nearly 18 months before denying relief. The Eighth District Court of Appeals saw it differently, however. In 2016 they reviewed the trial court’s decision, and sent the case back to the trial court for a hearing, while specifically noting that the DNA evidence supported King’s claim of innocence. On Friday, April 14th the OIP learned that Cuyahoga County prosecutor Michael O’Malley had asked new prosecutors to take another look at the case. They did, and when O’Malley learned the details of their findings and reviewed an analysis of the evidence, he ordered King’s conviction be overturned and that he be released.
“While the initial delay in obtaining justice for Mr. King is disturbing, Michael O’Malley and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office deserve credit for turning this case around and correcting an injustice,” says Mark Godsey, OIP co-founder and director. “O’Malley’s involvement in the case since his recent election, along with his decision to put new prosecutors on the case, may have been the pivotal factor that secured freedom for an innocent man, and we are thankful for his heroic intervention.”
This exoneration is due to the hard work and dedication of many current and former OIP attorneys and fellows. Professor Bergeron has represented King for many years, along with former OIP staff attorney Carrie Wood (now at the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office). OIP fellows on the case include Taylor Freed'16, Katie Wilkin'16, Mallorie Thomas'17(expected), Joe Wambaugh, Bryant Strayer'14, Steve Kelly'17, Morgan Keilholz'18 (expected), Jon Walker'18, Scott Leaman'14, Thomas Styslinger'14, John Markus'15, and Julie Payne'15. Also, special thanks to the Ohio Public Defenders Office, particularly Kris Haines, who worked on King’s case as well for many years.
Watch videos of Evin King learning of his release, being set free by Judge Corrigan, and walking out of the courthouse a free man after 23 years in prison.
UC Law alum Erica Hall '05 is a Woman on a Mission
UC Law alum Erica Hall shares her work on behalf of children victimized by war.
During the week before spring semester, UC Law graduate Erica Hall (2005) returned to her alma mater to teach a short course on a weighty topic: children and war. In the span of five afternoons, Hall and a class of nine students explored some of the ways children are affected by war and the violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law implicated.
The course comes straight out of Hall’s work at London-based World Vision UK, where she leads policy and government advocacy on gender and children and armed conflict issues. She describes World Vision as “a development and humanitarian organization working to improve the lives of children around the world.” Prior to her current job, she worked on International Policy and Programmes at the Children’s Legal Centre and as a consultant for UNICEF.
“My job, basically, is to convince the UK government to do more and to do specific things to improve the lives of children overseas,” she said. Hall enjoys her professional autonomy. “I pretty much get to do what I want, which is great,” she said. “I've been successful enough in my current job that ... If I say, ‘Look, I think this is an issue we really need to be focusing on and we need to be pushing the government on,’ they let me do it.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in French, she started working in corporate marketing communications. After a decade in the field, Hall decided it was time to shift gears. “I kept changing jobs and thinking, ‘I hate this company,’ and then realized, ‘Actually, I think I just hate the job. It's just not for me,’” she said.
Instead, she wanted to delve into the world of international human rights law—which led her to UC. While researching law schools, “I had the most impressive spreadsheet you have ever seen,” she said with a laugh. “I tell you, it was a masterpiece. It took me months to put together. UC was very high on the list,” she recalled, based on the Urban Morgan Institute of Human Rights and its international summer externship opportunities.
“I came on day one—you can imagine, based on my spreadsheet—saying: ‘I want to go to Bosnia next summer. Here is a list of 10 organizations in descending order that I would like to work for.’” She got that internship, with a helpful reference from the Institute’s director, Bert Lockwood. In her second summer of law school, Hall interned at UNICEF. “I was working on some issues that were really important to me, particularly around holding peacekeepers accountable for sexual exploitation and abuse, or ideally preventing that,” she said.
During her time at UC, Hall decided to specialize in gender-based violence. “I had never taken a gender course. I never considered myself even a feminist,” she said. “I know that's a strange thing, but I had this image of ‘feminist,’ and I thought, ‘that's not me.’ Then I took “Feminist Jurisprudence” (taught by UC Law Professor Kristin Kalsem) and it completely changed my world view.”
Persistence pays off
The same dogged determination that drove Hall to become a lawyer and begin a new career in human rights continues to propel her forward at World Vision.
These days, government officials come to her for help with issues of children and conflict. But in the early days, she recalled, “it was literally me cornering someone at a reception, and saying, ‘You need you talk to us about this.’ And that person saying, ‘Oh my gosh… Team, meet with her, just so that she'll leave us alone.’"
In terms of legal influence, Hall explained how human rights law can be a “very analytical process of looking at what (certain countries are) already doing, sometimes looking for new laws.” For instance, she’s working toward new legislation in the UK that’s similar to existing US law, prohibiting military funding to governments who use child soldiers.
“I get to go and do research and meet the children that we're talking about, and do an assessment of where are the barriers—and they might be legal barriers,” she said.
Children in war zones
In December 2015, Hall co-authored the report No Shame in Justice, addressing stigma against survivors to end sexual violence in conflict zones. She based the report on field research she conducted in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, highlighting a survivor-centered approach to ending impunity and responding to sexual violence.
For her research, Hall met with children, usually ranging in age from 10 to 19, in their homes, schools, or sometimes even their town squares. “In a lot of the villages, there's a square where people meet. So we’d meet there ... sitting on the ground, under a tree,” she recalled.
So how do you get young survivors of violent conflict to talk about such traumatic experiences? “We do things like drawing your life story. ‘Here's what it was like in the bush, what it was like to escape, what it's like now...’ Then we talk about the drawings, or do some other kind of activities, that can get at some of the challenges they're facing, and what they see as the potential solutions to those challenges.”
The long haul
From research to advocacy, Hall points to real-world results as her measure of success. In the case of the stigma against survivors of sexual violence in Africa, “We got three-quarters of a million pounds over two years, to work on the issue in three countries,” she said. “Now I'm leading a working group to create principles for action that governments and UN agencies all over the world will then be using in terms of, how do we change this.”
And despite the magnitude of the problems she tackles, Hall remains optimistic rather than overwhelmed.
“For me, being able to go to the field makes a huge difference because I can see the difference that things are making. So you might think, this is a hopeless cause... but when you start seeing in some places that you are able to make a difference... when you see smiling children, who are so excited they're finally able to go back to school, it's worth it. It might take a long time, but it's worth it.”