Going Home to Hometown to Fight for the Environment
3L Stephen Kelly returned to Pittsburgh, Pa. to fight against environmental violations in his own backyard.
“Being away for two years, there’s something about coming back to my roots that was appealing to me,” said Stephen Kelly about his work this summer with the Center for Coalfield Justice.
Kelly returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this summer as an intern with the Center for Coalfield Justice, whose mission is “to improve policy and regulations for the oversight of fossil fuel extraction and use; to educate, empower, and organize coalfield citizens; and to protect public and environmental health.” Southwest Pennsylvania has been a hotbed for environmental issues in recent years, a result of coal pollution, oil and gas companies, and fracking, creating vast opportunities for environmental workers.
Although he earned his undergraduate degree from Duquesne University in economics, law school was tugging at the back of Kelly’s mind since his second year, when he enrolled in a business law course. Drawn in by the professor, and the material, which provided a change-of-pace from his typical courses, he determined to begin law school after his graduation.
Kelly rather stumbled into his love for environmental law during his 2L year when he took environmental law classes with Professor Brad Mank. Knowing that he wanted to return to Pennsylvania after graduation, Kelly conducted personal research to find markets that were accepting applications in the area.
“It’s a very niche market; it’s not huge in Pittsburgh, so it was kind of tough to find a job,” said Kelly of environmental work, noting that he was lucky to get the job he has. “I think I got my application in the last week,” he laughed.
Kelly has gained a unique perspective to two sides of environmental law. The Center, a 501c3 nonprofit, operates as a half environmental litigation and half community organizing/ education/outreach organization. Currently, the Center is involved in litigation against an energy company, which kept the office busy all summer. While the summer was hectic, it was great for Kelly to gain experience working directly under a staff attorney, allowing him to learn what that position entails.
Additionally, Kelly has gotten to work with lobbying efforts in places such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and climate action rallies as well as network with various organizations, both big and small. The most rewarding part of the job, however, has been seeing his own work filed in comments and getting down to the “nitty gritty” of regulations.
“Part of what we do is go in the Pennsylvania bulletin of notices and permits and make comments; we get to do our own research on environmental regulation which eventually get edited and go to the Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Agency,” Kelly explained. “Getting to do my own research, seeing part of my work submitted to a governmental organization, and seeing them address some of our concerns, has been something I’ve really enjoyed.”
Like many jobs, Kelly said it is easy to become frustrated with people. Because of his independent research, he has dealt with many departments of environmental protection. In theory, these departments should be enraged upon learning about a plethora of violations, but it can seem like they don’t take it seriously enough. Usually, it’s simply a fact of being stretched too thin, either with money or time, something Kelly has been working to wrap his head around.
The people in the office, however, have only reaffirmed to Kelly that he is on the right path. He has become even more interested in a future working in environmental policy, and feels he could do a lot of good in the Southwest Pennsylvania area after graduation. The work, Kelly said, is something he deeply cares about, proving that being drawn back to your roots can help you grow.
Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern
Small Organization. Big Goals. Kalisa's Experience with the NHLA
Kalisa Mora spent her summer with the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda.
“It’s possible for a small army to make a big impact,” said Kalisa Mora about what she’s learned at her summer fellowship with the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA).
Mora, a second-generation Mexican-American immigrant, grew up in a small town in Oklahoma’s panhandle, surrounded by a Hispanic community. A first-hand witness of various hardships - financial or otherwise -, Mora said she became accustomed to individual struggling. Her decision to pursue law school was borne from her passion to help others, and a desire to become a credible resource for those in need.
While looking for summer experiences that would align with her future goals, Mora focused on policy work in the Washington, D.C. area. She stumbled into the NHLA, an organization she had never heard of, along the way.
“I started looking at their mission and I realized it was kind of perfect for what I want to do, because I want to work with immigration policy and their agenda is to look at all policy areas,” said Mora, who describes the NHLA as a big community.
NHLA’s mission “calls for unity among Latinos across the country to provide the Hispanic community with greater visibility and a clearer, stronger influence in our country’s affairs.” NHLA also works to bring Hispanic leaders together to help establish policies regarding major issues affecting the Latino community and the nation.
Mora’s responsibilities as a fellow were wide-ranging, and she learned a lot about time management and flexibility while on the job. She conducted interviews for an initiative that addresses the lack of Latinos in public service;wrote press releases and blog entries about recent Supreme Court case rulings, and how they specifically impact Latinos.
Because NHLA is a non-partisan organization, the writing that Mora did must be non-partisan as well, something she had to work at.
“I’m definitely not 'non-partisan' myself, so learning how to write press releases and blogs staying neutral has been challenging,” she said.
Separating personal views from professional ones can be hard at any time, but particularly so during a charged election year. Although the political fighting has not been as bad in D.C. as Mora expected - she suspects that’s because candidates don’t go to D.C. while campaigning - it has given her a unique perspective, and the chance to learn things she doesn’t believe she would have if it were not an election year.
Mora spent time at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. At both conventions, the NHLA hosted several events and partnered with several other organizations as well.
Their presidential engagement campaign allows the NHLA to sit down with both candidates and highlight what is important to the Latino community. This information benefits both parties; Latino communities can have their voices heard, and candidates learn what policies they need to implement to gain Hispanic voters.
Working at a non-partisan organization has reinforced the importance of working across the table for Mora. Having attended the conventions, and seeing the divisiveness that some people thrive off of, has been an eye-opening experience.
“I’ve learned how to look at a situation from any and all sides, and evaluate any possibility, which will help me when I return to school,” said Mora. Outside of the classroom, this fellowship has given her a clearer idea of what she wants to do. Working at the intersection between policy and law, Mora hopes to evaluate the impact on everyday Americans and their communities, and advocate for policy change to benefit citizens.
Mora credits her parents with first setting her on this determined path; growing up watching them work diligently in the community, and going above and beyond on the call of service, made her aspire to work that hard as well.
“A quote from Nelson Mandela states, ‘There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living’ has been a guiding path for my career,” said Mora. “It’s important to me to use my life and knowledge of policy and law to speak for those who don’t have a voice at the table.”
Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern
Advocacy and the Sentencing Project
The war on drugs has been a hot topic in America for about as long as most people can remember. Whatever the stance, everyone has heard about it.
3L Zack Eckles is one of the people trying to address those failed policies, and spent his summer in Washington, D.C. working with the Sentencing Project.
The Sentencing Project is an organization that works toward a fair criminal system, promotes reforms in sentencing policy, and fights racial disparities in the carceral system.
Eckles has always been interested in social justice issues. In fact, he worked as a field canvasser for groups such as Working American and Ohio Citizen Action in the year between the end of his undergraduate education and the start of law school. During that time, he realized he would be able to make more of an impact if he attended law school. But his interest in the "war on drugs," and drug policies in America, started long before his enrollment at Cincinnati Law.
Every summer during his undergraduate years, Eckles would return home to Morrow, Ohio, and help a family friend do hay baling and sacking.
“One summer when I came home I found out he had developed a crack cocaine addiction, and he was really struggling,” Eckles remembered. “I spent a lot of time with him that summer, and it really opened my eyes to the failure of the war on drugs, and how those policies can make a situation worse rather than better.”
Although he initially felt upset with what he perceived were unfair policies concerning the “war on drugs,” after conducting his own research he realized the entire criminal justice system has issues that need to be addressed. After his first year of law school, he interned with the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, an organization that does similar work to the Sentencing Project.
During his internship at the Sentencing Project, Eckles researched state statutes regarding life sentencing and life without parole, discovering when states passed those statutes - not every state has one - and what the motivation behind it was.
In addition to his research, he wrote for the Rights and Justice News Center and attended meetings and conference calls with staff members who did more of the advocacy work, a side he has enjoyed seeing.
He was able to sit on conference calls with state policy advocate Nicole Porter. Porter works to bring multiple groups across state lines together to pass criminal justice reform bills. Eckles has also observed Jeremy Hale, a federal policy advocate, who does similar work. Hale’s meetings have consisted of several federal organizations who devise a plan on how to get policy reforms completed. The time spent with Porter and Hale has given him the opportunity to see reform work at two different levels, a unique experience.
“It’s interesting to talk about how politics of the coalition work, and how a lot of these organizations are allies but they also compete for funding,” said Eckles. “It was great to see them work together and get a better understanding of the dynamics at work when they work together.”
Although there have been fewer differences between his work experience in DC and Cincinnati than he expected, this externship provided Eckels with a clearer image of the path he’d like to take after law school. Eventually, he would like to be in a position similar to Porter or Hale’s: being an advocate. Until then, this experience has helped refocus him for the school year.
“I don’t like the fact that in school you’re not really working for something other than yourself,” said Eckles. “But actually my experiences have served as a reminder of why I’m going to school.”
Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern
Cincinnati Law, Duke Energy Support Local Businesses with Free Legal Clinic
The University of Cincinnati College of Law’s Entrepreneurship Clinic and the Duke Energy Law Department have joined forces for a “Free Legal Advice to Better Your Business” clinic, October 27, 2016, 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the law school. Register here to attend: www.law.uc.edu/legaladvice .
Cincinnati, OH—Small business owners and entrepreneurs can get free legal advice to help their businesses grow or even get their business off the ground at the “Free Legal Advice to Better Your Business” clinic, sponsored by the University of Cincinnati College of Law’s Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic and the Duke Energy Law Department. The four-hour free legal clinic will be held Thursday, October 27, 2016, 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the law school.
Through this event now in its sixth year, 162 businesses have been assisted and attorneys have conducted 223 legal consultations.
Taking Care of Business
Participants can schedule 30-minute consultations with attorneys from a range of practice areas: business start-up, contracts, copyrights/trademarks, labor and employment, litigation/dispute resolution, non-profit, patents, real estate and tax/employee benefits.
Pre-registration is encouraged and available online at www.law.uc.edu/legaladvice. Or, register via phone by contacting Lori Strait at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-556-0117. Deadline to pre-register is October 25, 2016. Walk-in registration is also available until 6:15 p.m. on the day of the event.
Free parking will be available at Deaconess Parking Garage on Straight Street; passes will be distributed at the event location.
For more information and/or to register via phone, contact Lori Strait at email@example.com or 513-556-0117.
Finding opportunity, growth and potential of living in Cincinnati
Betsy Emmert has deep Cincinnati roots and decided to stay here for her undergraduate and law school studies.
To be honest, my decision to stay in Cincinnati was probably predetermined for me. In true Cincinnati fashion, my parents are both from Cincinnati, and so are my grandparents – and their parents. The most exotic place from which my lineage draws back for 150 years is Bethel, Ohio.
I, too, fit the stereotypical mold in that I went to a private, all-girls high school, Skyline flows through my veins, and I say “Please?” instead of “Excuse me?” when I can’t hear what you just said. However, I would be remiss in saying I did not have the option to leave the city – for college and now for law school. I was tempted by scholarship dollars, the thought of warmer weather (or perhaps colder), and the glamour of big cities, yet my decision to begin and sustain my career in Cincinnati has evolved since I sent in my seat deposit for the University of Cincinnati in 2011.
Since high school, I have heard “I want to get out of Cincinnati” more times than John Matarese has told us, “Don’t waste your money,” on Channel 9 News. Some argue it is a “right of passage” to fly the proverbial nest and start an exciting journey at University of XYZ or take a job in Big City, USA. My reasons for staying in Cincinnati were not groundbreaking or earthshattering, and probably were more practical than they were strategic when I first entered the doors of the Lindner College of Business in September 2011. When I was 18, I chose to stay in Cincinnati for college to join the Lindner Honors-PLUS Program at UC, to be near my family, and to save money rather than venture out of state. As I look back on the past five years, I realize that staying in Cincinnati opened more doors and revealed opportunities I could never have imagined possible had I left the Queen City.
Cincinnati falls into that sweet spot. As a big small city, Cincinnati has the benefits of a larger city: sports and cultural attractions, research universities, great restaurants, outstanding parks, and strong business – without the overwhelming traffic, long commutes, high cost of living, or coastal snobbery. Most importantly, Cincinnati is resilient. Despite disappointing Bengals’ performances year after year, violent weather swings, and impossible hills, our city is proud, united and rejuvenating. Ask the “boomerang” Cincinnatians who did their five-year stints in Chicago or New York City. After living in a closet, riding the subway, and suffering from Skyline withdrawal, suddenly, Cincinnati doesn’t sound so bad after all. This is not to say that Cincinnati has it all figured out – far from it actually, but that’s why I want to stay here.
In Cincinnati, I see opportunity, growth, and potential. Behind our share of political and economic issues are leaders, professionals, and businesses united to propel Cincinnati forward. As I have learned through my co-op rotations, internships, and college courses, the necessary ingredient to our city’s future success is strong talent dedicated to the future of our city. Maybe it’s attributable to the German Catholic heritage or to the industrial roots, but nevertheless, Cincinnati welcomes and embraces natives and newcomers alike, to join a thriving community proud of its history and anticipating a bright future.
Mark Twain once said, “[w]hen the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always 20 years behind the times.” Despite whether or not this held entirely true in the context of 1883, Twain’s comment may explain the apparent stigma of staying in Cincinnati ad vitum. However, I am still confident with my decision to stay in Cincinnati ... that is, of course, until I get lost on the West Side and find myself in Indiana.
Editorial published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, May 2016.
26% Increase Returns Cincinnati Law to Historic Enrollment Levels
Cincinnati, OH— It’s official. This fall, first-year enrollment at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, among the top 50 public law schools in the nation, saw a 26% increase over last year.* With a first year class of 126 JD students, not only is this group the biggest class entering the law school since 2010, it is also representative of a six percent increase in applications over the past year.
“I am very pleased to welcome a diverse and highly qualified class to join our law school community. Our students come from 21 different states, 62 different colleges and 41 different majors. In particular, I’m excited about our growing ties with the University of Cincinnati’s study body that has resulted in the enrollment of 25 “Double Bearcats” with two degrees from the University of Cincinnati and three “Triple Bearcats,” says Dean and Nippert Professor of Law Jennifer S. Bard.
In addition to the JD, the LLM Program, a year-long master’s degree program for internationally-trained attorneys and law graduates, continues to grow in size and in the quality and diversity of our students. Now in its fifth year, this year the program has enrolled 18 attorneys from ten different countries including our first ever Fulbright Scholar. Since its inception, 50 attorneys from 23 countries have come to the law school to immerse themselves in the US legal system.
All of this positive enrollment news comes on the heels of recent notable accomplishments at the law school. The college’s Ohio Innocence Project/Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice has just received a $15 million gift from Richard Rosenthal, the largest for the College and any innocence program in the country, which will provide for the program in perpetuity. The University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees recently approved $1 million to fund a concept design for a new building, development of a probable cost for new construction and a relocation study while construction is underway.
“I attribute the increase in enrollment to an increase in awareness of the value of a Cincinnati Law degree,” explains Dean Bard. “This is the third year in a row that we have been recognized as a best value school. Employment outcomes continue to be strong; 80.7% of 2015 graduates obtained full-time, JD-required jobs within 10 months of graduation. Moreover, our students are well prepared by our high quality faculty and our nationally recognized ‘learn by doing’ program.”
Indeed, for three consecutive years Cincinnati Law has been named a top school for practical training. The law school is ranked an A- school for students interested in public interest or criminal law, based on the depth of our curricular offerings. And, “the strength of our program is evident,” says Dean Bard. “Our high quality program reflects the strides we have made over the last several years in academic and career preparation. We are excited that others are also recognizing what is happening at Cincinnati Law.”
* Final enrollment numbers submitted for certification by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and the Law School Admissions Council as of October 5, 2016
The Ohio Innocence Project Honors International Wrongful Conviction Day
Tonight, October 4, 2016, the Duke Energy Building will be lit in the colors yellow and white in honor of International Wrongful Conviction Day.
Cincinnati, OH—The Ohio Innocence Project/Rosenthal Institute for Justice at the University of Cincinnati College of Law is celebrating International Wrongful Conviction Day by lighting up the city’s Duke Energy Building this evening in yellow and white—the colors symbolic of the wrongful conviction movement.
In addition to the lighting event, OIP-u chapters throughout the state have hosted activities over the last few weeks to commemorate the day. Events included:
- The John Carroll University chapter welcomed members of the Exoneree Band, a touring group of former prisoners-turned musicians, to participate in a panel discussion about wrongful conviction. Participants included Raymond Towler, an OIP exoneree, as well as exonerees from across the country.
- The University of Day chapter led a discussion by Dr. Melissa Berry about the causes of wrongful conviction, incorporating examples from the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” and the personal experiences of Ohio’s exonerees.
- The Ohio State University chapter hosted an information table to promote awareness among students about wrongful conviction and the OIP.
- And, the University of Cincinnati chapter assisted with the inaugural Bearcat Dash & Bash event.
OIP-u is a college network of innocence advocates that provides an avenue for Ohio undergraduate and graduate students to get more involved in the fight for freedom of wrongfully incarcerated people. Launched just last year, six OIP-u chapters have been created: John Carroll University, Ohio University, University of Dayton, the Ohio State University, Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati.
Today’s celebration and event comes on the heels of the successful inaugural Bearcat Dash & Bash, the OIP’s walk/run event to raise awareness and funds for the organization and for the university’s Athletics Department. The event, held Sunday, October 2, involved more than 1800 participants—with nearly 1400 in the 5K walk and nearly 500 in the 18.19K run. The 5K walk, which also included nine exonerees walking in the Freedom Walk, took participants through the university’s award-winning campus. The 18.19K run, which represents the average time that the OIP’s 24 clients spent in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, as well as the year of the University of Cincinnati’s founding, took participants through campus and the historic Clifton community.
International Wrongful Conviction Day recognizes the personal, social and legal costs associated with wrongful conviction. Launched by Win Wahren of the Association in Defense of the Wrongfully Convicted and a small group of like-minded individuals, the day is dedicated to recognizing those whose lives have been adversely impacted by wrongful conviction as well as educating the broader community on its causes, consequences and complications. Recognizing that wrongful convictions are not limited to one jurisdiction or nation, the group sought to unite individuals and organizations around the world in the effort to eradicate wrongful convictions.
Record-Breaking $15M Gift to Benefit the Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law
Richard Rosenthal’s $15M Gift is the Largest for the College and Any Innocence Program
Cincinnati Law alum Trisha Culp ('02) joins Bradley's Nashville office as a senior attorney on the Healthcare team
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 10, 2016) – Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP is pleased to announce that Trisha A. Culp has joined the firm’s Nashville office as a senior attorney on the Healthcare team.
“Trisha is an esteemed and talented addition to our Healthcare group. We are thrilled to have her join the firm,” said Nashville Managing Partner Lela Hollabaugh. “As the healthcare industry continues to burgeon in Nashville, it is crucial for our team to remain ahead of the curve. We are proud of our existing capabilities and ongoing growth that will serve our clients well.”
Ms. Culp focuses her practice on assisting clients in the healthcare industry in a wide range of transactional, operational and regulatory matters. She has advised healthcare clients in a variety of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, practice formation and joint venture arrangements. She has significant experience preparing and negotiating physician employment and hospital-based physician contracts as well as other professional service arrangements. Ms. Culp also counsels clients on state and federal regulatory matters unique to the healthcare industry, including anti-kickback and self-referral laws. In addition to healthcare work, her experience includes small business formation and counseling, as well as transactional work in corporate and securities matters.
Ms. Culp is an active member of the Nashville Health Care Council and Leadership Health Care. She earned her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati and her B.S. (summa cum laude) from Ohio University.
Bradley combines skilled legal counsel with exceptional client service and unwavering integrity to assist a diverse range of corporate clients in achieving their business goals. With offices in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia, the firm’s 500 lawyers represent regional, national and international clients in various industries, including financial services, healthcare, life sciences, real estate, construction, technology, energy, insurance, and entertainment, among many others.
New School Year Begins as Cincinnati Law’s Enrollment Continues to Grow
Cincinnati, OH— Cincinnati Law launched the 2016-2017 academic year with one of its largest classes in recent years — 127 JD students enrolled as of August 22, 2016. This represents a 26% increase in class size over 2015. Not only is this group the biggest class entering the law school since 2010, it is also representative of a six percent increase in applications over the past year. Significantly, this year’s class includes a record number of students with degrees from the University of Cincinnati. In fact, the number of students matriculating from the university has doubled, compared to last year. Twenty-five are double Bearcats and three are triple Bearcats! In total, the first-year students represent 62 undergraduate institutions.
The LLM (master’s degree) program for internationally-trained attorneys and law graduates also continues to grow. Now in its fifth year, the LLM program boasts 18 attorney students, including several individuals who have returned for additional training and certificates.
A Look at their Backgrounds
Several are citizens of foreign countries: Canada, Colombia, and the United Kingdom. And, the class includes native speakers of Russian, Kurdish, Spanish, Telugu (language native to India) and Akan (language native to Ghana).
Though many are recent graduates from undergraduate institutions, some come to law school after careers in other impressive fields. One is a medical doctor, a farm manager, an NFL cheerleader, an environmental research engineer with the EPA, a (former) women’s pro basketball player in Europe, and a criminal justice professor. One is a former UC mascot, and another is an American Idol pre-show finalist!
They are veterans of the Armed Forces, including a Marine Corps Sergeant and a Corporal, and an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. Some are college athletes, excelling in women’s soccer, women’s and men’s basketball, rugby, volleyball, dance and golf. And, they enjoy giving back to the community through service with Teach for America, International Justice Mission, the Ronald McDonald House, the March of Dimes, Relay for Life, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, among many other philanthropic organizations.
Most (59%) are Ohio residents; 41% are non-Ohio residents and come from 21 states. The Class of 2019 has spent significant time studying abroad and/or has international experiences in places like Vietnam, France, England, Tanzania, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, India, Nicaragua, and Belize.
Law School Welcomes 18 LLM Students
The LLM program, Cincinnati Law’s master degree program for foreign-trained attorneys, continues to expand. This year’s participants come from 10 countries: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, India, Uganda, Estonia, France, the Republic of Georgia, Ghana, the Philippines, and China. The professional careers of the attorney students include positions as a lecturer in Saudi Arabia; an intern for the Supreme Court in Amman, Jordan; the president/CEO of Global One, Inc., an organization with links entrepreneurs in Africa with investors in the US; and judicial clerk for a senior judge at the Delhi High Court in New Delhi. And, this year’s class also includes the school’s first Fulbright Scholar.
Their areas of interest are varied and include criminal law, human rights, international arbitration, intellectual property law, and environmental and immigration law.