Diane Dix’s Career Is a Story of Flexibility, Change, and Success
Diane Dix ’93 was born in Pittsburgh, PA and grew up in Huntington, WV. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Northern Kentucky University (NKU), and spent six years away from the classroom in various sales positions before coming to the College of Law. Having majored in literature and language at NKU, her love of writing nudged her towards pursuing her J.D. Further, her experience in the world of business prior to law school helped Dix decide to set out on a career path leading into the corporate realm. So, three years after she was the very first person called upon in her first-year class, Dix’s post-law school career began.
Dix spent two years in a clerkship with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. “It was in my time as a clerk that I became particularly interested in insolvency and restructuring,” she shared. “I wanted to explore this area after I left my job with the Court.”
Her next step was to take a position with Thompson Hine, where she was able to focus on the bankruptcy work she was interested in, but also do work in the areas of mergers and acquisitions and finance. Her time at the law firm reinforced the idea she had going into law school — she wanted to do corporate work.
Dix entered the corporate realm for the first time as a lawyer doing mergers and acquisitions for GE Aviation and served in that capacity for 18 months. “The work was challenging, but at that time, GE Aviation was not doing many acquisitions,” she explained, “so I began looking within GE for other opportunities and found an excellent role with GE Equity.” A part of GE Capital, GE Equity was Dix ‘s workplace for four years. While she gained valuable experience doing dozens of private equity transactions, she was juggling work and a commuting relationship with her husband who was working in Cincinnati while she worked in Connecticut. Interested in returning home after four years away, Dix once again kept an open mind about her next GE opportunity and found another position at GE Capital as general counsel of a business within the consumer finance division. “Though I had no real consumer finance experience, I was able to convince myself (and the company) that I could learn the substance and adapt to this unfamiliar setting,” said Dix. “It was a leap of faith, both for me and the company.”
Dix spent the next eight years in Cincinnati as the general counsel for the business. When she started in the role, the business did $200 million in net income, and within several years it had tripled to $600 million. While there were only three attorneys working under her to start, that number ballooned to as many as fifteen as the business grew. “My role grew as the business grew, and I found myself in a pretty significant general counsel role within GE Capital fairly quickly,” said Dix. “It goes to show that you need to be flexible in your career. When I started there I was learning as I went, and ultimately this is where I learned to become a general counsel for a business.”
Impact of the Financial Crisis
The financial crisis brought about, largely, an end to the growth of GE Capital. Continuing to consider career advancement, Dix saw that the future growth was on the industrial side of the corporation, and she sought to return to her industrial GE roots. Once again, she left Cincinnati, but this time for a temporary assignment with GE Oil & Gas in Houston. The position was truly a global assignment, and Dix found herself conducting business with people from all corners of the globe. Although the assignment was temporary, it enabled her to round out her experience with its industrial and international focus. Leveraging this focus after the 18-month assignment ended, she was able to return to Cincinnati and begin working in her current position as general counsel for Distributed Power, a company within GE Power & Water.
Distributed Power sells power generation equipment for use at or near the point of need. The company employs about 4500 people, does about $6 billion in revenue, and does business in over 100 countries around the world, including in emerging regions like Libya, Egypt, Honduras, Mexico, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Papua New Guinea, just to name a few. Dix finds the international aspect of her work to be interesting. “I work with ministers of electricity, ministers of defense, and legislators in many different countries, and I am always learning and working within a unique and culturally diverse setting,” she said.
The Career Hazard of Stubbornness
In reflection on the path she took to her current position (including 16 years with GE), Dix noted that a stubborn approach is not the best strategy. “As a lawyer whose career has been largely in-house, it has served me well to be open minded and flexible,” she explained. “Don’t expect each opportunity to take you up the ladder,” she advised. “I’ve taken some lateral moves, and over time it has helped me climb.”
Additionally, she explained, a broad skill set is vital in her line of work. “On any given day I could have 30 different matters on my desk, and each one can be in a different area,” she said. “The ability to change gears quickly and to pull from a broad array of experiences and expertise is invaluable.”
Solimine’s Article Now in Print
Professor Michael Solimine’s article, The Fall and Rise of Specialized Federal Constitutional Courts, is now in print in17 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 115 (2014).
2015 Stanley M. Chesley Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law
Criminal Law as Regulation
Date: Monday, February, 23, 2015
Time: 12:15 - 1:15 p.m.
Location: College of Law, Room 114
by Professor Rachel E. Barkow, Segal Professor of Law and Policy, New York University School of Law
In her lecture, Criminal Law as Regulation, Professor Barkow will argue that the criminal justice system should be seen as a regulatory system. She will give clemency as an example of an area that could be improved by applying the insights of administrative law and policy.
Barkow’s scholarship focuses on applying the lessons and theory of administrative and constitutional law to the administration of criminal justice. She has written more than 20 articles, recently joined the leading criminal law casebook as a co-author, and is recognized as one of the country’s leading experts on criminal law and policy. She received the NYU Distinguished Teaching Award in 2013 and the Law School’s Podell Distinguished Teaching Award in 2007. In June 2013, the Senate confirmed her as a member of the United States Sentencing Commission. Since 2010, she has also been a member of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Policy Advisory Panel. After graduating from Northwestern University (BA ’93), Barkow attended Harvard Law School (’96), where she won the Sears Prize. She served as a law clerk to Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the DC Circuit and Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court. Barkow was an associate at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel in Washington, DC, before joining the NYU Law faculty.
About the Stanley M. Chesley Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law
The Stanley M. Chesley Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law was endowed by Mr. Chesley in 2006 to bring outstanding legal scholars of national and international prominence in all areas of law to the College as visiting professors. Mr. Chesley, a 1960 graduate of the College of Law is a longtime supporter of the law school and the University of Cincinnati.
Professor Sperino's Article Published in OSU Law Journal
Professor Sandra Sperino’s Let's Pretend Title VII is a Tort is now in print at 75 Ohio State Law Journal 1107 (2014).
Mark L. Newmann named as 2015 Ohio Super Lawyers
CINCINNATI, OH( December 03, 2014)-The law firm of Barron Peck Bennie & Schlemmer Co., L.P.A. (BPBS) is pleased to announce that Mark L. Newman, a resident of Symmes Township, has been recognized as 2015 Ohio Super Lawyers®. This recognition continues the tradition of Super Lawyers designation for the attorneys of BPBS.
Ohio Super Lawyers showcases outstanding lawyers in Ohio who are recognized by their peers for professional accomplishments. Only five percent of Ohio lawyers are chosen as Ohio Super Lawyers. In selecting this year’s group of honorees, candidates were evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement.
For over 20 years, Mark Newman has devoted his practice to helping injured and disabled individuals pursue claims related to workers’ compensation and social security disability. Mark Newman was named an Ohio Super Lawyer in 2006, 2011 and now again in 2015 for Workers’ Compensation area of practice. Mark is an Ohio Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist.
Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys. Only five percent of Ohio lawyers are chosen as Ohio Super Lawyers.
About Barron Peck Bennie & Schlemmer, Co., L.P.A.
With offices in Oakley, Over-the-Rhine and Northern Kentucky, BPBS provides comprehensive legal services for individual and commercial clients in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas. For more information on BPBS’s attorneys, practice areas and specific services, visit www.bpbslaw.com or call 513-721-1350.
Kathryn J. Bross '14 hired as associate by KMK Law
Cincinnati (November 11, 2014) — The Cincinnati law firm of Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL (KMK Law) has recently hired four new associates: Kathryn J. Bross, Meaghan K. FitzGerald, Shannon D. Lawson and Sarah A. Vonderbrink.
Kathryn J. Bross practices in the firm’s Real Estate Group. Bross’ practice includes a variety of real estate transactions, including the disposition or acquisition of real property and lease transactions of commercial or residential property. Before joining KMK Law, Bross worked for GE Aviation where she performed research, contract revision and drafting in several corporate transactional areas. Bross earned her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 2014, where she was a Notes and Comments Editor of the Cincinnati Law Review and was selected as a participant in the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic. Prior to attending law school Bross worked for an international non-profit as a site coordinator and project manager. She earned her B.A. from The Ohio State University in 2010. Bross is admitted to practice law in Ohio.
Meaghan K. FitzGerald practices in the firm’s Litigation Group. Prior to joining KMK Law, FitzGerald served as an intern in the Office of Congressional Affairs of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) in Washington, D.C., designing and compiling databases for the candidate selection process of the First Responder Network Board. She also researched and prepared materials for Assistant Secretary of NTIA to use when testifying before Congress. FitzGerald earned her J.D. from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2014, where she served as a Mentor in the Law and Leadership Program and as a Moritz Admissions Ambassador. She earned her B.A. from Duke University in 2011. FitzGerald is admitted to practice law in Ohio.
Shannon D. Lawson practices in the firm’s Business Representation & Transactions Group. He focuses his practice in the areas of mergers and acquisitions and business planning. Lawson earned his J.D. from the University of Kentucky in 2014, where he was a member of the Kentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture & Natural Resources Law and served as vice president of the Black Law Student Association. While in law school, Lawson worked as a law clerk for Landrum & Shouse in Lexington, Kentucky, where he drafted motions for summary judgment and performed legal research. Prior to law school, Lawson worked several years as an internal auditor for Ashland Inc., where he led an array of financial and operational audits. He also worked as an internal auditor for E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., a Fortune 100 company, and was a corporate accountant at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, now a part of Pfizer. Lawson is a certified public accountant (Delaware, 2009). He earned his B.S. from Delaware State University in 2001, cum laude. Lawson is admitted to practice law in Ohio.
Sarah A. Vonderbrink practices in the firm’s Litigation Group. Prior to joining KMK Law, Vonderbrink was a co-mediator for the Family Alternative Dispute Clinic, Mediation Center of Charlottesville, Virginia, where she co-mediated parental disputes regarding custody, visitation and child support. Vonderbrink earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2014. While attending law school, she spent her summers working at the Kentucky Court of Appeals and at regional law firms researching legal issues on appeal from Kentucky circuit courts and gaining experience in the legal skills of mediation, deposing parties, attending motion hours and trials. She earned her B.A. from the University of Richmond in 2010, cum laude. Vonderbrink is admitted to practice law in Kentucky.
About Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL
The law firm of Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL (KMK®), based in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a nationally-recognized law firm delivering sophisticated legal solutions to businesses of all sizes — from Fortune 100 corporations to start-up companies. Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers® 2014 recognized KMK as a leading law firm in Ohio in Corporate and Mergers & Acquisitions, General Commercial Litigation, and Bankruptcy & Restructuring. KMK earned three national rankings in Commercial Litigation, Corporate Law, and Venture Capital Law and 37 metropolitan rankings in the 2015 “Best Law Firms” report by U.S. News and Best Lawyers. Founded in 1954, KMK has approximately 110 lawyers and a support staff of 150 employees. Additional information is available at www.kmklaw.com.
Oliver S. Howard '79 named 2015 Best Lawyers in America "Lawyer of the Year" for Appellate Law in Tulsa
Gable Gotwals shareholder Oliver S. Howard was recently named as 2015 Best Lawyers in America "Lawyer of the Year" for Appellate Law in Tulsa.
Howard received his JD from the University of Cincinnati in 1979, his PhD from Hebrew Union College in 1978, his masters from Abilene Christian College in 1970 and his BA from Oklahoma Christian College in 1967.
Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as the “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers.
Honorees are selected based on particularly impressive voting averages received during peer-review assessments. Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same community and practice area for ability, professionalism and integrity.
GableGotwals is a full-service law firm of more than 90 attorneys representing a diversified client base in Oklahoma, the Southwest and across the nation.
2L Olivia Luehrmann Sets Her Sights on Career as a Prosecutor
A tri-state native from Boone County, Kentucky, Olivia Luehrmann ’16 feels right at home here at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. “I love Cincinnati,” shared Luehrmann. “Both the city and the school have so much to offer, so it was naturally one of my top choices for law school.”
Before law school, Olivia attended the University of Louisville where she majored in psychology and minored in political science and justice administration. This background in psychology drew her to UC Law’s Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry, of which she is now a fellow. “Throughout my undergraduate studies, I began to see the unique ways in which the law, psychiatry, and psychology are forever intertwined,” said Luehrmann. “I wanted to further my studies in this field, specifically in criminal law.”
During her time at Louisville, she worked for a small law firm, and saw how mental illness and psychology play a significant role in the overall functionality of our judicial system. The issues of recidivism and lack of treatment for the mentally ill stood out to her, and she has set her sights on helping to reform the system in these areas in her career after law school.
Outside of class, Luehrmann currently works for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in Boone County, Kentucky. For about 10 years, her family has lived just down the road from the office, and she has always been interested in working there. Now this is an experience she is excited to be having during her second year at UC Law.
In her past few months at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Luehrmann has been able to see and take part in a number of cases and investigations. She has written motions and responses, taken part in a complete murder trial, a grand jury investigation, dockets, suppression hearings, and a Daubert hearing among other things. “I have been able to see a side of the justice system that not many people are able to see,” she explained, noting in particular that her work has allowed her to see the functions of the Sheriff’s Department and to understand the mechanics of a police investigation.
“Take as many criminal law-based classes as you can,” Luehrmann advises, “but do not expect to know everything — don’t be afraid to ask questions!” She has also found it enormously beneficial to learn as much about the entire process as possible. “See if you can do a ride-along with an officer, or shadow the crime investigation unit for a day. There is so much more to criminal law than cases, and you must have a deep understanding of it all to truly appreciate where the law is coming from and what those involved do every day.”
After law school, Luehrmann hopes to continue working for the Commonwealth, or otherwise as a state or federal prosecutor, or even possibly for the FBI. “I want to be able to have an impact on the system,” she shared. “Lately, you hear so much about how the justice system is failing and people have lost all faith in the way things have always worked – this saddens me. While some may think my ambitions sound naïve, I want to make a difference.”
Federal Prosecutor Kyle Healey Talks About Crime, Ethics, and Lessons Learned with the OIP
Originally from Cincinnati, Kyle Healey ’08 is currently working as a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice. Healey grew up in Westwood, attending Oak Hills High School before heading to Oxford, Ohio to study economics at Miami University. After graduating, he worked for a consulting firm in Cincinnati for a year doing internal audit work. With the idea of eventually working for the federal government, Healey decided to return to the classroom and came to UC Law for his legal studies.
During his second and third years at the College of Law, Healey worked with the Ohio Innocence Project. A significant portion of his time with the OIP was spent working on examining DNA petitions for the potential merit to refile under Senate Bill 262 which became law in 2006 and expanded post-conviction DNA testing rights. “Working with the Innocence Project really piqued my interest in criminal investigations,” he shared, noting that the experience ultimately led him to apply for his current position with the Department of Justice.
Out of law school, Healey moved to Arizona where he spent about six years working in the U.S. Attorneys Office in Tucson. “I had never been to Arizona before,” he explained, “but the move was an excellent experience for me.” For an Ohioan, Healey remarked, Arizona has some stark cultural and climatic differences from the Midwest; but, he noted, that he was never really out of his comfort zone.
“While no crime is good, Arizona is a good place to be a prosecutor,” Healey said. “I’ve spent a lot of time prosecuting drug crimes, aliens, and alien smuggling – the work was always intriguing.” He further explained the ongoing problem in the region involving what are called “rip crews” – groups of people who go out into the desert robbing and killing migrants and drug dealers. “It was really eye-opening to see what the border is really like,” he shared. “Growing up in Ohio you hear a lot about immigration, but I never really experienced it or knew what it was like until I moved to Arizona.” Recently, he moved back to Ohio, but is still with the U.S. Attorneys Office, this time working out of the Dayton office.
In reflection, Healey acknowledged the utility of the lessons he learned while with the OIP. The experience he gained looking at where prosecutions go wrong, understanding the rules of discovery, and, in particular, recognizing the importance of disclosing exculpatory evidence has proved beneficial to his time as a federal prosecutor. He explained the application of his Innocence Project lessons to his work: “None of the prosecutors I’ve worked with want to convict somebody of a crime they didn’t commit. They want to prove a person’s guilt beyond all doubt when building a case, not just beyond a reasonable doubt. Because of this, it is important to have a foundation of where things can go wrong when investigating a crime and building a case.”
One-on-One Advice on Ethics
In advice to students interested in becoming a federal prosecutor, Healey emphasizes the importance of knowing and understanding a prosecutor’s ethical duties: “Often times in an interview, you will be asked some ethics questions, and the interviewers don’t want a soft answer. They are looking to see if you really know your stuff, and understandably so. Not only will having a mastery of ethics help you in an interview, but it will help you in your career as well.”
A Globe Spanning Career Helps FBI Instructor Michael Pettry as He Trains Future Agents
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Michael Pettry ’89 moved down Interstate 71 to the Queen City for college. As a Bearcat, Pettry studied foreign affairs and Latin American studies before coming to UC Law for his legal studies. As a law student, he enjoyed his time on Moot Court and had an exceptional second summer experience studying and working in Mexico City.
After taking the Ohio bar, he worked for a year as a ski instructor in Colorado before returning to Ohio and landing a job with the Clermont County Prosecutor’s Office. “I always had an interest in criminal investigations and trial work,” shared Pettry. “The prosecutor’s office was a great experience given my interests,” he continued, noting that the interaction with police, witnesses, and court personnel were positive experiences for him. While a prosecutor, he worked with federal agents on several occasions, and eventually he decided to apply to the FBI.
Pettry started training as a new agent at Quantico, Virginia in 1997, and his first assignment was to the field office in Kansas City. “I was the type of prosecutor that really liked to get out from behind the desk,” he said. “Going to crime scenes and meeting with witnesses – this aspect of the work is something I really enjoyed as an agent.” He has had a diverse career investigating organized crime, drug trafficking, and national security threats as an agent. He later served as the Kansas City Field Office’s Chief Division Counsel, wherein he provided legal and policy advice to division personnel and management on a wide range of issues. Following his time in Kansas City, Michael joined the FBI’s Global Initiatives Unit, a position that involved travelling to numerous countries around the world and facilitating the exchange of biometric data relating to terrorists and transnational criminals with foreign partners.
Training Future Generations
Since working with the FBI, Pettry had always wanted to return to Quantico and become a legal instructor, a position he now holds. “I was very impressed with the legal instruction at Quantico,” he shared. “It was thorough and very relevant to the work we do as investigators, and when I put in for the next opening, I was fortunate enough to be selected.” For Pettry, it is gratifying to give real world, impactful legal instruction to agents who will soon be out in the field. “I really like the ability to impact people in the early parts of their careers because I know that if they start off on the right foot, understanding the importance of full compliance with the law, they will be better agents because of it.”
Pettry’s current position further gives him the opportunity to pursue academic endeavors. He still has the opportunity to travel, giving lectures at conferences and at training programs in various countries. Additionally, he writes the occasional academic article, his most recent to be published in the coming weeks. Look for his article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (http://leb.fbi.gov) discussing First Amendment constraints placed on public employees in the context of their use of social media.
The Importance of Public Servants
Pettry’s advice for those interested in prosecution work or the FBI is to embrace the importance of the role of the public servant. “Always continue to seek training and to hone your skills. While I could have made more money in private practice, the opportunity to work to make the system function at the highest level possible is something I take very seriously and enjoy doing, and has led to a fulfilling and rewarding career.”