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Bruce & Ginny Whitman Launch One of School's Newest Fellowships


How one couple’s passion for helping the “underdog” led to funding a new fellowship

For Bruce and Ginny Conlan Whitman (’80 and ’81, respectively), law school served as a means to an end. “I wanted to start fighting for people, helping the little guy fight the powers that be,” Bruce says. “I realized years ago that I could do this if I became a lawyer.”  

To keep that dream alive and growing, the Whitmans funded the Whitman Fellowship. Starting in 2016, this annual fellowship is helping train future attorneys who want to represent those battling the big and powerful. “We want to preserve this unique aspect of American law,” Bruce says.

When was this dream born? About four decades ago, in a Cincinnati bar where two college dropouts worked as a bartender and waitress.

The road from local bar to law school

Bruce and Ginny met on the job at a local Clifton hotspot, Incahoots. “We liked each other and decided we wanted to be together,” says Bruce, smiling. Together, they decided to go back to school, enrolling as students in UC’s night school to finish their degrees. Both also chose to pursue law careers.

“I thought I’d just be a paralegal,” says Ginny. “My father, who was an attorney, encouraged me to think bigger and be a lawyer. I grew up talking about law around the dinner table. My dad was politically engaged, interested in social and legal issues. It was always a part of who I was.” Bruce, inspired by the 1982 book Gunning for Justice by trial lawyer Gerry Spence, knew he wanted a career in trial practice. Both applied to and were accepted at Cincinnati Law. And both say they owe their careers to the law school taking a chance on them.

“I was 27 years old when I was in law school,” says Ginny. “I had a great career in school, working in leadership roles in class such as on SLEC and as an editor on the Law Review.” All the while, Ginny continued working full-time at Incahoots. “I felt very supported by the college,” she says.

“For me, law school was a great place. I had lots of fun. I’m still friends today with my first year study group: Jerry Metz, Mark McDonald, and Pat Lane,” Bruce says. He also gained a strong interest in tort law. Indeed, it was in his tort class with Professor Stan Harper that Bruce confirmed his area of focus: helping people fight against the powers that be. While in school, he worked as a law clerk for Phil Pitzer and at the law firm of Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley.

Branching out

After graduation, Bruce worked for several small firms before going out on his own in 1983. His big break came with the litigation related to The Who concert disaster in 1979. Eleven people were killed in a stadium rush at the former Riverfront Coliseum in downtown Cincinnati. The brother of a friend was one of the victims, and the family hired Ginny’s father, Thomas L. Conlan, as his lawyer.

However, Conlan became ill, giving Bruce the opportunity to step in. “It was a dream come true—fighting for the underdog,” says Bruce. “There’s nothing like rolling up your sleeves and getting into the fray.”

The Who concert litigation also turned into a huge learning opportunity for Bruce on how to put together a major lawsuit before taking it to trial or settlement. Afterward, he continued to grow professionally and his law firm began to flourish.

Meanwhile, Ginny clerked for US District Court Judge S. Arthur Spiegel, followed by a job at her father’s firm. “I walked out of my clerkship into the courtroom,” she recalls. After her father died in 1984, Ginny went to work for Cincinnati Law alum Jim Helmer, then at Helmer, Lugbill & Whitman, where she stayed until leaving to start her own practice in 2007. Then, a position at Legal Aid of Greater Cincinnati opened up.

Leap of faith

“This was my opportunity to change the delivery of law and make it more available to those who are underserved,” Ginny says. “Bruce said to me, ‘This is what you’ve wanted to do all of your life.’ And he was right. I took a leap of faith that it would work.” She became managing attorney for the Volunteer Lawyers Project, a position she held until her retirement last year.

Today, Bruce and Ginny remain committed to helping the underserved. “There is a tremendous need for working and middle class people to get proper legal representation,” says Bruce. “We’ve devoted our careers to helping people against powerful forces. There’s a great need for lawyers trained to deal with these situations.”

That’s why they established the Whitman Fellowship, with the goal of developing a cadre of attorneys who want to champion the needs of the little guy. “This is tremendously satisfying work,” Bruce says. “It may not be as lucrative as big time firm work. But there’s great satisfaction in representing people and winning their cases.”

Adds Ginny: “We wanted to create this fellowship so we could help find and train students interested in doing this type of work.” The Whitman Fellowship is designed to support students who are gaining internship experience with tort attorneys. “The fellowship is a great way to help one lawyer at a time develop skills, start a practice, and develop other mentoring relationships with groups,” Ginny says. “It’s also a way to make an impact.”

The career of the citizen lawyer—the entrepreneur lawyer—“is sort of a dying art in this era of specialization,” Bruce says. “I believe the best representation is one lawyer, one client—partners working together with common goals. I don’t want to see it die.”

About the Whitman Fellowship

Launched in 2016, the Whitman Fellowship provides a Cincinnati Law student with a $5,000 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 Whitman Fellowship recipient will work (minimum of 300 hours over the summer) on substantive legal assignments under attorney supervision, supporting the employer’s work.  Examples of assignments include legal research, drafting memorandum, drafting pre-trial litigation documents, filing, and observing meetings/hearings.

Third-year Law Student Caroline Drennen was Inaugural Whitman Fellow


Third-year UC Law student Caroline Drennen describes her time as the 2016 Whitman Fellow as “an amazing experience.”

As the first recipient of this annual fellowship, Drennen spent the summer working at Beckman Weil Shepardson, a Cincinnati law firm. “The fellowship allowed me to gain firsthand experience working with various aspects of plaintiff-side litigation, personal injury, and employment law cases,” she says.

Throughout the summer, Drennen gained valuable practical experience, such as assisting at a trial, mediation, and settlement conference. She also strengthened her legal research and writing skills by briefing and composing numerous memorandums relating to civil litigation, estate planning, personal injury, probate, and labor and employment.

Drennen made a positive impression during her summer at Beckman Weil Shepardson, with attorney Alison DeVilliers as her supervisor. “We are thrilled that Caroline will continue as the law clerk at BWS, and are confident that the generosity of the Whitmans has fueled her passion for the law and representing the ‘underdogs’ in cases.”

“I’m grateful for the Whitman Fellowship and would encourage students interested in plaintiff-side litigation to apply,” Drennen says.

Recognized as a Best Value Law School, College of Law Receives A- Grade


The University of Cincinnati College of Law stands out as a consistent leader providing quality affordable legal education.  Cincinnati Law has earned A- level recognition as a “Best Value Law School” by National Jurist magazine for the fourth consecutive year and preLaw magazine for the third consecutive year. This is the second highest Best Value ranking by the magazines.

Ranked #60 by U.S. News & World Report—positioning it among the top 50 public law schools in the nation—Cincinnati Law’s “Best Value” accomplishment is indicative of the exciting changes happening at the law school. Notably, this fall first year enrollment saw a 26% increase over 2015, which had a 38% increase in enrollment. The college’s Ohio Innocence Project/Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice recently received a $15 million gift from benefactor Richard Rosenthal, the largest for the college and any innocence program in the country, which will provide for the program in perpetuity.  And the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees approved monies 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.

“Our consistent recognition as a top 40 “Best Value” law school reflects a Cincinnati Law degree’s high return on investment,” says College of Law Dean Jennifer S. Bard, Nippert Professor of Law. “Our students succeed at the highest level in passing the bar and in getting good jobs while at the same time enjoying low debt levels that reflect our affordable tuition and the low cost of living in our region. We are honored to be recognized and proud of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni.  We are also fortunate to be part of such a successful research university which enhances the value of our students’ education.”

How the ranking is determined:

Each year, the magazines release rankings of law schools across the nation, identifying those schools where graduates have excellent chances of passing the bar and getting a legal job without taking on a significant debt. Rankings are based on several determining factors:

  • bar passage
  • affordability
  • employment success
  • tuition
  • cost of living in the surrounding communities

Looking at Cincinnati Law’s numbers, 80.7% of 2015 graduates obtained full-time, JD-required jobs within 10 months of graduation. The law school beat the state’s average, ranking second in Ohio as 86% of first-time takers passed the July 2016 Ohio Bar Exam; and ranking first in the state in the state as 76% of takers passed the February 2016 Bar Exam.  And, the school has actively worked to reduce student debt by introducing a low tuition rate program ($24K), reciprocity programs with surrounding counties, and low non-resident tuition fees.

Several Cincinnati Law programs have been recognized for excellence:

  • Public Interest/Criminal Law - The law school is ranked an A- school for students interested in public interest law or criminal law, based on the depth of our curricular offerings.
  • Business/Corporate Law - The law school is ranked an A- school for students interested in business or corporate law, based on the depth of our curricular offerings.
  • Prosecutorial/Public Defender Work - Cincinnati Law was named among the top 20 schools for law students interested in prosecutorial/public defender work.
  • Prosecutor/Public Defender Careers - The law school was ranked third in the nation for prosecutor and public defender careers, based on the percentage of graduates who landed jobs in public interest and government positions combined.  
  • Learning By Doing - For the third consecutive year we have been named a top school for practical training, a testament to the work and impact of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic.  

 

Fulbright Scholar Joins Cincinnati Law’s LLM Program


NatiaNatia Mezvrishvili wants to bring two things back to her native country of Georgia when she finishes the LL.M. program at UC Law in May 2017: a better understanding of the US criminal justice system, and new teaching methods for her own classroom.

Prior to being selected as a Fulbright Scholar (UC Law’s first), Mezvrishvili spent most of the last decade working for the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia. She also taught classes in criminal law at several universities, including as an assistant professor at East European University in Tbilisi, Georgia. She hopes that this year-long program in Cincinnati will give her new insights and skills to use back home—as a supervisor of prosecutorial work (“quality control”) and law professor.

“The US and Georgia criminal justice systems have a lot in common,” she says. Her country’s interrogation procedures, jury selection, plea bargaining, and more are based on the US system. “That’s why I’m here,” she adds.

While Cincinnati hadn’t been on her radar before, Mezvrishvili now considers her Fulbright placement a fortuitous one. “I’m glad to be here, because the school is so practical-oriented and focused on working with students individually,” she says.

Though getting a master’s degree in the US might seem like a nice break from her full-time job, this is no carefree “year off” for Mezvrishvili. “It’s difficult being the student again,” she says, after spending so many years working and teaching others. Add the complexity of English as a second language (she also speaks native Georgian, Russian, and French), to absorbing all the case law background needed for US legal practice, and she feels like she’s working harder than ever. 

Living in the US takes some adjustment, though the people and programs at Fulbright and UC Law have helped prepare Mezvrishvili well, she says. Having visited and lived in various parts of the US previously, this time around she’s fairly acclimated to life in America. “Everyone here is so open and willing to help you,” she says, from the dean to her fellow students.

Cincinnati Law Bar Results Announced; Students Exceed State Average by 15%


Bar Pass

Today the results of the July 2016 Ohio Bar Exam were released and the University of Cincinnati College of Law, recognized as a “Best Value Law School” by National Jurist and preLaw magazines, recorded an 86 percent passage rate for all Cincinnati Law exam takers, second among Ohio’s law schools and 15 percentage points higher than the state-wide average of 70.5 percent. These numbers put the law school two percentage points behind our nearest competitor in Ohio and 10 percentage points ahead of all other Ohio law schools. 

The passage rate for Cincinnati Law first-time takers also was 86 percent, second in the state. This rate exceeds the state-wide average passing rate of 76 percent.  Almost 1,000 aspiring attorneys from across the state and the country took the July exam.

In addition, for those out-of-state jurisdictions that have released their outcomes, Class of 2016 results are very strong, representing a 90% pass rate, including a 100% pass rate in Indiana, Montana and West Virginia.

“Passing the bar exam is one of the singular events in every lawyer’s professional life and I warmly congratulate our students and everyone else who passed the Ohio Bar examination,” said Cincinnati Law’s Dean Jennifer S. Bard.

“Although in the end passing the bar exam is a test of an individual student’s knowledge, stamina, and analytical ability, it starts with strong teaching and support that our Cincinnati Law students get from every faculty and staff member.  We have had a great year here and it reflects a truly exceptional group of faculty, staff and students strongly supported by the faculty, staff, students, and trustees of the University of Cincinnati.   Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to help our students succeed.  Go Bearcats!”  

Applicants who successfully passed the examination and who satisfied all of the Supreme Court’s other requirements for admission will be admitted on November 7, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. during a special session of the Supreme Court at the historic Ohio Theatre in Columbus, OH. The session will be streamed live via the Supreme Court and Ohio Channel websites at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov and www.ohiochannel.org.  It will also be available statewide on the Ohio Channel’s local public broadcasting stations.

 

Recognized as a Best Value Law School, College of Law Receives A- Grade


University of Cincinnati College of Law cited by two publications for affordability, employment outcomes, and other factors.

Cincinnati, OH—The University of Cincinnati College of Law stands out as a consistent leader providing quality affordable legal education. Cincinnati Law has earned an A- level recognition and listing as a “Best Value Law School” by National Jurist magazine for the fourth consecutive year and preLaw magazine for the third consecutive year.

UC Law ClassroomRanked #60 by U.S. News & World Report—positioning it among the top 50 public law schools in the nation—Cincinnati Law’s “Best Value” accomplishment is indicative of the exciting changes happening at the law school. Notably, this fall first year enrollment saw a 26% increase over 2015, which had a 38% increase in enrollment. The college’s Ohio Innocence Project/Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice recently received a $15 million gift from benefactor Richard Rosenthal, the largest for the college and any innocence program in the country, which will provide for the program in perpetuity. And the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees approved monies 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.

“Our consistent recognition as a top 40 “Best Value” law school reflects a Cincinnati Law degree’s high return on investment,” says College of Law Dean Jennifer S. Bard, Nippert Professor of Law. “Our students succeed at the highest level in passing the bar and in getting good jobs while at the same time enjoying low debt levels that reflect our affordable tuition and the low cost of living in our region. We are honored to be recognized and proud of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. We are also fortunate to be part of such a successful research university which enhances the value of our students’ education.”

How the ranking is determined:
Each year, the magazines release rankings of law schools across the nation, identifying those schools where graduates have excellent chances of passing the bar and getting a legal job without taking on a significant debt. Rankings are based on several determining factors:

  • bar passage
  • affordability
  • employment success
  • tuition
  • cost of living in the surrounding communities

Looking at Cincinnati Law’s numbers, 80.7% of 2015 graduates obtained full-time, JD-required jobs within 10 months of graduation. The law school beat the state’s average, ranking second in Ohio as 88% of first-time takers passed the July 2015 Ohio Bar Exam; and ranking first in the state in the state as 76% of takers passed the February 2016 Bar Exam. And, the school has actively worked to reduce student debt by introducing a low tuition rate program ($24K), reciprocity programs with surrounding counties, and low non-resident tuition fees.

Several Cincinnati Law programs have been recognized for excellence:

  • Public Interest/Criminal Law. The law school is ranked an A- school for students interested in public interest law or criminal law, based on the depth of our curricular offerings.
  • Business/Corporate Law. The law school is ranked an A- school for students interested in business or corporate law, based on the depth of our curricular offerings.
  • Prosecutorial/Public Defender Work. Cincinnati Law was named among the top 20 schools for law students interested in prosecutorial/public defender work.
  • Prosecutor/Public Defender Careers. The law school was ranked third in the nation for prosecutor and public defender careers, based on the percentage of graduates who landed jobs in public interest and government positions combined.
  • Learning By Doing. For the third consecutive year we have been named a top school for practical training, a testament to the work and impact of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A Champion for Housing Equality in Cincinnati


Second year student Tim Lynch's summer experience involved fighting against unfair housing practices in Cincinnati. 

“[The work] is interesting and sometimes it’s really sad. If we solve one issue, another one comes to light,” Lynch said about his summer externship with Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME). 

While he initially thought not a lot would be going on at a small nonprofit, Lynch has been proved wrong.

He was hard at work promoting HOME’s mission, which is to “eliminate unlawful discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender/sex, family status, physical disability, and/or mental disability.” 

The mission is wide-reaching, and can sound nearly impossible, but Lynch worked with the rest of the HOME staff to realize it, one person at a time. 

With a wide assortment of day-to-day duties, Lynch oftentimes saw himself pulled into various projects at the office. He worked at HOME’s call-line, which tenants use to ask questions about their rights as well as what their landlords can do. HOME also gives presentations - including an upcoming continuing legal education course - to landlords and real-estate companies, explaining owners’ and tenants’ rights, and new laws that may affect business. 

“It was great for me because I could get up and speak publicly to people who actually care about the subject,” he said about presentations, one of his favorite parts of the job. 

While he has loved his time at HOME, fair housing is not a path he first imagined himself going down. 

Attending the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Lynch studied criminology, intending to pursue law enforcement after graduation. His mindset gradually changed over those four years due to a combination of world events and the influence of his uncle, who works as a detective. Lynch often turned to his uncle for advice about law enforcement careers, and eventually was advised that becoming involved with the legal system could be a good move; it would allow interaction with the criminal justice system while still opening more doors. 

Ultimately, Lynch saw himself in law school. During his first year, he was surprised to find that he enjoyed his contracts and property law classes even more than his criminal law course. He became involved with the Tenant Information Project (TIP) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), which provide legal information to callers concerning landlord/tenant laws and assist low- and middle-income and elderly persons prepare tax returns. These organizations allowed Lynch to be hands-on for the first time, something he relished. 

His time spent at TIP, and a negative experience with a landlord while in undergrad, pushed him towards working at HOME. Since he began his work there, he has learned a lot.

Since its inception in 1959, HOME has been fighting against racial discrimination in housing.  While that hasn’t gone away, Lynch said, it’s not the most prevalent issue in Cincinnati housing anymore. Now, the organization has turned its focus to discrimination against families, those with disabilities, and sexual orientation. 

Initially, Lynch believed the majority of disability discrimination would stem from landlords not wanting to knock down the old, narrow buildings that are so prevalent in Cincinnati. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. 

One of HOME’s main priorities is working toward reasonable accommodation and reasonable modification requests, which involve a change of policy in order to help the tenant. For example, if a tenant has PTSD and wants to get a therapy dog for emotional support, but the landlord has a no-pets policy, the tenant has the right to file a request. 

HOME is engaged in such a battle right now with a family in Blue Ash. 

The Anderson family obtained a miniature horse to help their sixteen-year-old daughter move more easily. She is nonverbal and cannot easily move, along with several other disabilities, and requires someone to be with her 24/7. This miniature horse was providing a small bit of independence for her.  

The City of Blue Ash, however, views the horse as livestock, and requires the family to pay a livestock fee, something HOME has filed a reasonable accommodation request against. The legal battle has spanned three years now; while HOME lost at the district court level, they were able to get a date for their appeal to be heard. Unfortunately, that’s not until early 2017.    

“Her mother just broke down at one point, saying, ‘I’m just so sick of going through all these legal battles. I don’t understand why the city can’t just let us have this miniature horse,’” remembered Lynch. “They’re just such a great family, and it’s a shame because you wanted to give them the world and help them out. All they want is for this legal battle to be over.” 

While working at HOME has opened Lynch’s eyes to sometimes difficult perspectives and situations, he plans to continue this work in his future career. Whether he continues work with fair housing authorities from an office or pro-bono, he is looking forward to committing himself to the mission of fair housing. 

Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern

The Path from Information Technology to Researching Unanswerable Questions


Third-year student Jerad Whitt came to law after realizing he was craving something more than his undergraduate education could give him. Now, he’s spending the summer working with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

Whitt grew up in Lexington and attended the University of Kentucky, studying sociology. When he entered the workforce, it was in project management and information technology (IT). His first job at Contingent Network Services centered around coordinating schedules and hiring contractors for short-term projects. Next, he moved on to Christ Hospital Health Network, where he was in charge of doing large-scale IT roll-outs.

After three years of working in that vein, Whitt realized he needed more. He began talking to friends and family, those who were attorneys as well as those who had decided against it, to figure out what he wanted to do next.

Law school, Whitt determined, would fit his skill set while still providing an intellectual challenge. Law required more precision, and the generality of project management was something he wanted to get away from.

“I like the act of creating something like you do in law school,” said Whitt of his decision.

When Whitt interviewed with TTB, he had already developed an interest in working for the federal government. His first externship was at the state level in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, so he was looking to gain a fresh perspective.

TTB’s responsibilities include “enforcing the provisions of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) to ensure that only qualified persons engage in the alcohol beverage industry. We are responsible for enforcing the laws regulating alcohol production, importation, and wholesale businesses; tobacco manufacturing and importing businesses; and alcohol labeling and advertising.”

An additional draw to the TTB was that it is an executive agency, and deals with an aspect of the law that many people aren’t knowledgeable about.

So far, Whitt has thoroughly enjoyed his work. His main responsibility is researching the interpretation of statutes and regulations. Because the TTB is an executive agency, it typically does not deal with cases once they reach the litigation point, meaning that Whitt has not written any motions or other court documents.

“I’ve enjoyed the complex issues I’ve been asked to research. I usually get questions about issues that don’t have a lot of precedent, so you sometimes have to stretch what you can find to apply to your argument,” said Whitt.

These issues have included things such as how the interpretation of statutes dealing with tobacco producers and export warehouses governs a company’s trade practices. Whitt is tasked with determining what positions are supportable and what may open the company up to an arbitrary and capricious ruling.

“When I talk about it out loud it sounds dry, but it’s not! It’s fun!” laughed Whitt.

To him, the most challenging aspect of the job is the flip side of the same coin.

Because many of the cases have no precedent, determining where to take the argument next can be complicated. In those cases, Whitt works until he hits a wall, and then turns to his coworkers for help.

“Sometimes you get questions that there’s not an answer to,” said Whitt, “and that can be frustrating.”

Viewing this experience as a whole, Whitt has no regrets. Rather than working in the typically-portrayed courtroom and trial setting, he has been exposed to the practical application of the law in a government setting.

“I’ve gotten to see the thought process behind statutory enforcement,” said Whitt. “Whether I end up working in government or in-house, I have exposure to how people who are responsible for statutes read and interpret them, and that’s going to be beneficial.”

Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern

Gaining Experience at the National Labor Relations Board


Cincinnati Law student Jackie Miller’s commute may have been to downtown Cincinnati this summer, but she was working on a national scale as part of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is an independent federal agency which holds the power to protect employees’ rights to organize and have unions as a bargaining representative, and works to prevent unfair labor practices.

This opportunity allowed Miller to get her feet wet and use her “skills and desires for order and logic to affect positive change”, a major reason she decided to go to law school. Although she has a year before graduation, this summer will help her discover if she wants to continue pursuing work in labor law and government.

“I was looking forward to seeing what working for the government was like, to see what other people thought of it, and I’m always interested in real life experiences,” she said about this job. “You hear a lot of stories about workers, their employers, and their unions, and then you get to see how a government agency handles those cases according to its own statute and case law.”

Miller did more than simply watching from the sidelines. She investigated her own cases regarding unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). At work day-to-day, she learned about the NLRA, took affidavits, wrote letters to attorneys and representatives, and researched issues that come up in the office that noone was quite sure how to handle.

The NLRB is housed in the John Weld Peck Federal Building, giving her opportunities to learn about other agencies as well, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services. Although the knowledge she gained about the NLRA may be considered niche, it is absolutely useful for labor attorneys.

She noted the parallels to the classroom as well. “Real life experience is usually pretty great for putting schoolwork into perspective as well. You understand better why your professor emphasized what he or she did, and you become aware of new issues.”

For Miller, the most rewarding part of law school has been the challenges both in and out of the classroom, forcing her out of her comfort zone. “It’s not easy for everyone to be assertive, somewhat outspoken, manage time and work, maintain confidence, be resilient, and become smarter,” she said, pointing to growth she has seen in herself both personally and professionally.

Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern