Zac Wertz '11 Uses Legal Background to Pursue Challenging Career
Cincinnati native and College of Law alumni Zac Wertz ‘11 has used his legal background to pursue an adventurous and challenging career as an entrepreneur, creating his own start-up with the Beluga Shave Company. Wertz, who has an MBA in Finance in addition to his law degree, always had an interest in going to law school, but expressed that he also loved investing and evaluating opportunity costs as well.
During his time at the College of Law, Wertz drew his entrepreneurial inspiration from his work participating in the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC), an experience that allowed for practical skills training and exposure to private equity and venture capital work. As a budding entrepreneur himself, Wertz found this clinic particularly helpful for client communication practice, evaluating contracts, forming corporations, and getting that initial exposure to the field of entrepreneurship.
As the end of law school was drawing near and career decisions coming to the forefront, Wertz saw entrepreneurship as a great opportunity to bring together both his legal and finance backgrounds to get creative with his career. “Why work 10 years in a law firm when from day one you can be an equity based partner right away?”
Now, as founder and CEO of Beluga Shave Company, Wertz has applied his legal and financial skills to develop and market a unique single blade razor that Wertz argues provides a closer and better quality shave.
Wertz acknowledged that the “logical reasoning” skills he developed in law school helped in his early product assessments, researching reasons why a single blade razor was capable of providing a better superior shave yet no one else was using it. Wertz learned that many people disfavor using a single blade razor because it’s “not easy to use.” Inspired by the effectiveness of a single blade shave, Wertz challenged himself to develop a product that could provide the single blade quality with the same ease of use found in modern razors.
Beluga Shave Company was selected by Cincinnati’s accelerator program, First Batch, to be a part of its 2015 class of start-up companies. With First Batch’s assistance, Wert hopes to gather local business support to advance Beluga’s product development and manufacturing efforts.
Wertz hopes for Beluga to have a product prototype out by November this year and a first product launch in early 2016. Although the line currently has a masculine focus, Wertz plans to expand into a complete shaving and grooming line that includes female focused products as well.
For students interested in pursuing an entrepreneurial career Wertz challenges them to expand their legal studies, noting that there is opportunity to “learn much more than just the law in law school.”
OIP Celebrates the Launch of New OIP-u Program
The Ohio Innocence Project, borne out of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, and a branch of the national Innocence Network, launched a new organization on Oct. 2, called OIP-u. This program provides a way for Ohio undergraduate and graduate students to get more involved, and to come together to fight for freedom of wrongly incarcerated men and women in the state.
The launch coincided with the 2nd Annual International Wrongful Conviction Day, which is dedicated to recognizing those whose lives have been adversely impacted by wrongful conviction as well as educating the public on its causes, consequences, and complications.
Four Ohio universities have newly formed OIP-u chapters: John Carroll University, Ohio University, University of Dayton, and The Ohio State University, and each had events that featured OIP exonerees.
The OIP has many upcoming events and opportunities, , such as the Oak Hills Girl Scout Troop earning their social justice badge by visiting the office to speak with attorneys on Oct. 19, and Jennifer Bergeron, an OIP attorney, presenting oral arguments at the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for OIP client Karl Willis on Oct. 21.
On Nov. 13, the OIP will be honored by receiving the Outstanding Program or Organization Award by the Ohio Bar Association.
OIP attorney Donald Caster and exoneree Dean Gillispie will be speaking to Kent State University students on Nov. 12, and on Nov. 17 OIP attorney Brian Howe, a UC Law graduate, will be presenting at a continuing legal education event in Cleveland, discussing prisoner reintegration and post-release measures.
Wrapping up the calendar year will be the 21st Annual Rescuers of Humanity Awards Dinner, taking place on Dec. 1, sponsored by Project Love in Cleveland, OH. The OIP will receive the Rescuer of Humanity Award.
Professor Stephanie McMahon Publishes
Congratulations to Stephanie McMahon on two recent publications:
- An article published for a symposium at Indiana University on inequality. That article is titled “Should Divorce Be More Taxing?: Structuring Tax Reduction to Reduce Inequality,” Indiana Journal of Law & Social Equality You can read this article at the following link.
- A book chapter published: “Gendering the Marriage Penalty, in Controversies in Tax Law: A Matter of Perspective (edited by Anthony Infanti, 2015): 27-46. You can read this book chapter at the following link.
Dean Emeritus and Professor Lou Bilionis Appointed Fellow with the Holloran Center at University of St. Thomas School of Law
The University of St. Thomas School of Law’s Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions is pleased to announce the appointment of Louis Bilionis, Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at the University of University of Cincinnati College of Law as a Fellow of the Holloran Center. Professor Bilionis will play a major role at the Center in terms of strategic planning, research, and outreach to deans, faculty, and staff interested in the professional formation of students.
Prof. Neil Hamilton, Director of the Holloran Center, emphasized “We are very excited that Lou is joining the Holloran Center as our first Fellow based outside of the University of St. Thomas. In terms of helping deans, faculty, and administrators to understand the importance of both fostering the professional formation of each student and creating a professional formation curriculum and culture within a law school, Lou is world-class.”
Louis D. Bilionis is Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He received his A.B. from the University of North Carolina in 1979 and his J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1982. A nationally recognized scholar in constitutional law and criminal procedure, he taught at the School of Law at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1988 until 2005, where he was the Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law. He assumed the deanship of the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 2005 and served two terms as dean, concluding in 2015. While the dean at UC, he developed and taught Becoming a Professional: Exploring Skills and Transition into Practice – an experimental collaboration with the University of North Carolina School of Law, the Center for Creative Leadership, and practitioners that focuses on leadership and the formation of a student’s professional identity.
Professor Goldfarb Speaks at the Midwest Association for Pre-Law Advisers
On Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, Professor Goldfarb will be speaking on a UC Law panel at the Midwest Association of Pre-law Advisers in Columbus on practical training opportunities.
Professor Lew Goldfarb Named a Second Act Award Winner
Professor Lew Goldfarb is a 2015 Second Act Award winner and will be featured in the September 18 edition of the Cincinnati Business Courier. These awards recognize local professionals who have forged new paths after achieving success in their first careers. The 2015 Second Act Award acknowledges Professor Goldfarb’s work as the Director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (“ECDC”) at the College. Since 2011, the ECDC has “graduated” 108 students, assisted 163 business owners on approximately 700 legal matters, and provided nearly $1 million of free legal services to the local economy.
Tarik Haskins '03 Named Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
Wilmington, DE (August 26, 2015) – Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP partner Tarik J. Haskins has been named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. An honorary organization of attorneys, judges, law faculty, and legal scholars, the Fellows demonstrate outstanding achievements and dedication to the welfare of their communities and to the highest principles of the legal profession.
Established in 1955 to support the research of the American Bar Foundation, membership is limited to less than one percent of lawyers licensed to practice in each jurisdiction. Members are nominated by Fellows in their jurisdiction and elected by the Board of the American Bar Foundation.
As a member of the Morris Nichols Commercial Law Counseling Group, Tarik’s practice covers a range of commercial transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, secured financings, joint ventures, and business counseling.
He serves on the Morris Nichols Executive Committee and chairs the firm’s Diversity Committee. A leader in the local community, Tarik was appointed by Governor Markell as a member of the Delaware Council on Development Finance and serves as a director of the Prestige Academy. He also serves on many committees of the American Bar Association and the Delaware State Bar Association.
About The American Bar Foundation
The American Bar Foundation’s mission is to serve the legal profession, the public, and the academy through empirical research, publications, and programs that advance justice and the understanding of law and its impact on society. Primary funding for the ABF is provided by the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation and the American Bar Endowment. Learn more at www.americanbarfoundation.org.
About Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP Morris Nichols combines a broad national practice of corporate, intellectual property, business reorganization and restructuring, commercial law and litigation with a general business, tax, estate planning and real estate practice within the State of Delaware. The firm is regularly involved as lead counsel or co-counsel in matters of national and international significance, as well as those affecting its immediate community.
LLM Focus: Adele Sentuc
In 2014, French native Adéle Sentuc obtained her Spanish and French Law degrees from the Complutense Law School and Panthéon Sorbonne Law School, respectively. Shortly after completion of her dual-law degree, Sentuc decided to continue her education at the Sorbonne, in pursuit of a Masters degree focusing on food and agriculture. Now, to advance her education one step further, Sentuc has joined UC Law’s new LLM class and is excited to diversify her skill set to advance her career opportunities in the area of food and agriculture law.
As an LLM student, Sentuc hopes to develop and perfect her English speaking and writing skills, gain a deeper understanding of American law, and network with people in the food and agriculture industry. Sentuc has found the LLM program, and the UC Law community to be very receptive to her goals.
“That’s something we don’t have in France. Professors here, from what I’ve seen, they’re interested in students. They know your names, they know what you’re interested in, and if they can help you with something they will help you."
This semester Sentuc is scheduled to take courses in Environmental Law, Intellectual Property, Legal Writing, and US Legal Studies, and is looking forward to completing a research assignment for Food and Agricultural Law.
Early interest in the study of Food and Agriculture stems from accompanying her mother on various Humanitarian trips to Africa, doing related humanitarian work that led Sentuc to really assess issues surrounding the availability and the quality of food in different parts of the world.
“At the beginning [my interest in food and agriculture] was about the availability of food. But when I entered the Masters program I discovered it was not just that problem, but also the quality of food, and I saw that there were so many more things that I wanted to be involved with.”
Before coming to UC, as part of her Master’s degree, Sentuc interned with the Spanish Embassy in its Food and Agriculture Department. After completing her LLM degree, Sentuc hopes to return to the Food and Agriculture industry and work on related issues at an international level.
“I think food issues right now are international and that something needs to be done to eradicate hunger. But if you want to work for a big law firm or a big company in Europe you have to be able to speak and write in English. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be able to write in English and have legal-English skills. That’s why I wanted to come here.”
Sentuc explained that English language skills are a requirement for many positions in Europe, and believes the LLM program “will be a plus in [her] resume because everyone says [in Europe] they ‘speak’ English” so having studied in America will help her stand out from other applicants.
“I’m sure I’ll grow up a lot from this,” Sentuc commented, noting that it was difficult at first to make the decision to come to America. “There were months where I was crying every day thinking, ‘what am I doing? Should I leave my house and my family? Am I going to be missing opportunities?’ But then I really thought about it and said, ‘this could be really positive for me.’ Not only professionally, but also personally."
Sentuc plans to utilize the resources and opportunities through the LLM program to better focus her interest in Food and Agriculture and specify which areas in that filed she would like to take her career. Hopefully “with the LLM program I will get to know people [in the food and agriculture field] to tell me about their experiences and be able to find that specific path.”
Sarah Ambach '17 Pursues Entrepreneurship Law
Sarah Ambach ’17 had the unique opportunity to watch first-hand what it entails to start a small business--the courage it takes and struggles that come with it. As a high school student, Ambach worked along side her parents as they took the challenge of starting a small business with Penssara Computer Technologies, a technology integration company that primarily services medical and dental offices. It was this experience that fueled Ambach’s desire to pursue opportunities in entrepreneurship law.
Ambach returned to Cincinnati after obtaining her Marketing degree from the Holy Family University in Pennsylvania. When deciding to go to law school, Ambach recalls being sold on UC Law after speaking with Professor Goldfarb about the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC), and the entrepreneurial opportunities available in Cincinnati. In light of her parents’ entrepreneurial endeavors, Ambach was excited to be able to work with start-ups and entrepreneurs and be a resource for them in the community.
Through ECDC, third-year law students have the opportunity to represent local small businesses and entrepreneurs in various areas of law and help them start or advance their businesses and ideas. Although Ambach could not directly participate with the clinic during her first-year, Ambach found ways to connect with other students also interested in entrepreneurship law and found different ways to engage with the entrepreneurial community. These engagements later inspired Ambach to start UC Law’s Entrepreneurship Law Club.
“A few of us who weren’t in the Clinic were already going to different networking events together. Starting the club was a way to formalize what [those who weren’t in the clinic] were already doing, but in a more accessible way that can generate more student involvement and eventually more involvement in the Clinic.”
As President and Founder of the Entrepreneurship Law Club, Ambach is eager to bring in local attorneys for different speaking engagements and host panel events at the law school, and to connect with the undergraduate Entrepreneurship Club to share events and facilitate different networking opportunities. Inspired by entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiasm, Ambach hopes the Entrepreneurship Law Club will lead to increased participation in ECDC to provide more legal assistance to the entrepreneur and start-up business community in Cincinnati.
“[Entrepreneurs are] so passionate. And when you speak to entrepreneurs they talk about their ideas like it’s their baby,” Ambach joked, “But they’re excited! They want to move forward with their idea, and they go into work every day pumped up about what’s coming up next.”
Ambach experienced this enthusiasm first-hand during her first year when she was invited to attend and shadow the Clinic’s Pro Bono Day, an annual event ECDC co-sponsors with the Duke Law Energy Department. During the event, Duke attorneys and ECDC students provide free 30-minute consultations in various areas of legal practice to the local start-up and entrepreneurial community.
“I obviously couldn’t give legal advice but I was able to shadow attorneys and watch them practice and handle a situation on the spot. It provides really practical experience for participating ECDC students.” Ambach was excited to see a UC DAAP student attend the Clinic’s Pro Bono day, seeking advice on how to trademark a logo.
Ambach is not sure whether she’ll take the same entrepreneurial path as her parents did, but is dedicated to being involved in this area of law during her future practice. “With my background in Marketing I really want to help build brands, and providing legal assistance to entrepreneurs and start-ups is something that I would love to make the focus of my pro bono work in the future.” This fall, Ambach continues to explore her interest in entrepreneurship law through an externship with Dinsmore and Shohl, helping entrepreneurs who were selected as the current class for Mortar, a local business accelerator.
Asked and Answered. Q&A with Dean Bard
How do your advanced degrees help you as a Dean?
Although my first advanced degree and most important one is my law degree, I use the others every day. Public Health is a field with a very distinctive methodology. It seeks to prevent harm at the earliest possible stage. So, for example, public health’s earliest emphasis was on safe food and water. Today a good example would be to contrast public health’s focus on developing effective vaccination strategies versus medical’s emphasis on treating patients once they are ill. That approach works well in a law school because it asks us to identify the results we want and then to consider the earliest point where we can intervene to achieve them.
An example of how the University of Cincinnati College of law is already using this method is our introduction of the concept of the “Complete Professional” during orientation for first years so that by the time the students enter the practice of law they already have the complete package of skills they need to succeed.
Since my Ph.D. is in the field of Higher Education it too is very useful. It showed me how to use research findings to understand how today’s students learn and how they see the process of becoming a professional. It also me how important it is to use assessment tools to see how well a program or policy is achieving its intended result. It can be easy to think that because we’ve all been to school or because we hear feed-back from the loudest voices that we know what works and what doesn’t. But I’ve seen to many studies where “conventional wisdom” turned out to be wrong to assume that what we think we see on the surface is actually reflective of what’s going on. >
To take that a step further, what I learned from my study of research methods and doing my own research is that it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that just because one thing follows another or that two things usually happen together means that that one is causing the other.
So, for example, if we added a question to the admissions application and the next year fewer students started applying, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are related. Another thing I learned in my Ph.D. study is how many resources are devoted to studying higher education. I began the habit of reading The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education and University Business every day and as a result see how factors like government regulation and the economy are affecting students around the world. I’ve read several articles lately and been to some excellent presentations, including one by our own Joel Chanvisanuruk that shows how the high-stakes testing that has permeated K-12 education has changed the way our students are prepared to tackle the challenges of legal education. When teacher pay and job security is dependent on how students perform on standardized tests, there is less time devoted to skills like writing and problem solving.
Immediately before coming to the University of Cincinnati College of Law I was Associate Vice Provost for Academic Engagement for a large, public research university. That meant I had the responsibility to identify the wide range of activities that faculty, staff and students were doing that blended traditional academics and scholarship with direct involvement with the community. Although some of this included traditional service projects, its core was a new kind of engagement identified by the Carnegie Foundation in which universities and communities work together in ways that are mutually beneficial to both. So, for example, a chemistry class might not just visit a water treatment plant but actually be taught there so that the class could be involved in the daily challenges of maintaining a safe water supply. Law Schools have long been ahead of the curve in this kind of activity because even before formal clinics became a part of the curriculum, students and faculty have gotten involved in using the law to address community needs.
The tradition is particularly strong at the University of Cincinnati College of Law and I am very excited by what I’m hearing every day about the impact our faculty, staff and students are having by working not just for but with our community. I look forward to sharing with our community the results of a survey we are doing right now to catalog these activities. These include those you’ve heard about such as the highly successful work of the Ohio Innocence Project, the Entrepreneurship Clinic, and the Battered Women’s clinic but it extends well beyond that to programs like the Law & Leadership Program that brings high school students into the building for a five week program, the student volunteer organization that prepares returns for students on campus, the staffing of human rights organizations around the world by fellows in the Urban Morgan Institute.
What Do You see as the Challenges Ahead for the Law School?
Many of the challenges our law school faces come from rapid changes to the way legal services are delivered. Rapid advances in communication has made it easier for clients to meet their legal needs through on-line only law firms that do not have the over-head costs of a traditional bricks & mortar firm. At the same time, the economic crash of 2012 has had a permanent impact on what the clients who had traditionally spent the most on legal services were willing to pay. Large law firms have permanently changed their hiring practices and that has affected the practice of all employers. It is no longer standard practice for students to have a job before graduating and in fact it’s increasingly likely not to have a firm job offer until after bar passage—at least five months later.
As a result, we have had to change how we prepare students to succeed in the job market. But we also have to prepare them how to manage their expectations and anxiety as they study for the bar exam without an offer of employment and perhaps need to support themselves afterwards. No small part of this is the pressure they face from well meaning friends and family who are not aware of how fast hiring practices have changed.
The good news is that the new terrain is manageable and that employers, too, are adapting and finding ways to hire students as clerks without bar results.
Do We Really Need More Lawyers?
A more serious problem is the dramatic disconnect between individuals in need of legal services and access to any way of paying for them. By some estimates, over 80% of people in need of a lawyer to represent them in a non-criminal matter, a divorce, a bankruptcy, an eviction, an employment termination, cannot afford one. Without minimizing the crisis in access to health care, it’s important to understand that many of these cases involve a dispute between two parties of significantly different resources. So that one party, the landlord, the employer, can afford to have its interests represented by a lawyer while the other does not.
I think because we so often hear the phrase on television, “if you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you” we don’t appreciate that this only applies to individuals charged with a crime by the government. It has no application to any other kind of legal dispute, even ones in which the government is bringing a non-criminal dispute such as taking a way a license to run a restaurant or condemning a piece of property.