Alicia Miller Turned an Interest in Social Justice into a Career as a Public Defender
Having grown up near Cincinnati in West Chester, Ohio, Alicia Miller ’14 is a home grown Bearcat in this year’s graduating class. A graduate of Lakota West High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University. After her undergraduate years, she spent some time handling broken automobile glass insurance claims with Safelite Solutions. It was during this time that she prepared for the LSAT and law school applications.
“I decided to come to UC Law to work with the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice,” said Miller, adding that UC’s great value and proximity to friends and family were also factors contributing to her decision. Upon arriving, she found she made the right choice, noting the outstanding dedication of the faculty and staff at the college and the support, guidance, and mentoring she has benefitted from.
Miller has been tremendously involved in her three years of law school. She externed with the Ohio Justice & Policy Center where she researched the “school-to-prison pipeline” and worked with Cincinnati residents, helping them expunge and seal criminal records. She conducted research on the issue of food deserts in Cincinnati in another externship with the Center for Closing the Health Gap. Then, she has the opportunity to represent indigent clients while she externed with the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy. Finally, Miller has been involved with numerous student organizations, including Advocates for Children, the Black Law Student Association, the Freedom Center Journal, and the Law Democrats.
Upon graduation, Miller will be working with the Marion County Public Defender Agency in Indianapolis – first as a post-graduate intern. She will transition to working on misdemeanor cases when she receives her positive bar results. “I hope to expand into juvenile criminal defense, as well as adult felonies,” she shared. “After getting experience in those areas I hope to direct a public defender’s office someday and positively shape the way that indigent criminal defense is administered in my jurisdiction.”
In reflection on her law school experience and chosen career path, she shared the following: “My advice to those who may be interested in criminal defense is to trust that things will work out and not to let financial constraints keep you from pursuing your dreams. Find mentors within the criminal defense realm who will ensure that you get every opportunity to become a better advocate for clients.” Miller has found that UC Law has provided her with these mentors, and has propelled her towards her dreams. “I feel incredibly blessed to have found what I hope to spend the rest of my career doing.”
UC to Present Honorary Degree to Alumnus and Top Trial Lawyer Billy Martin
UC alumnus and nationally renowned trial lawyer Billy Martin will receive an honorary doctorate at the University of Cincinnati April Commencement ceremony.
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided
The University of Cincinnati will bestow its highest award, an honorary doctorate, on nationally renowned trial lawyer and UC College of Law alumnus William R. “Billy” Martin during spring Commencement ceremonies. Martin will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony set for 9 a.m., Saturday, April 26, in Fifth Third Arena.
Consistently named one of the top trial lawyers in Washington, D.C. and throughout the United States, Martin, who is majority owner and founder of Martin & Gitner, PLLC, has tried more than 150 jury trials, many involving large corporations and leading figures in politics, sports and entertainment.
While Martin has made a name nationally through his representation in numerous high-profile cases, he has a diverse practice that also focuses on complex civil and white collar litigation before state and federal courts and in administrative hearings.
Martin also has substantial experience with internal investigations, serving extensively as an Integrity and Ethics Monitor on behalf of government agencies and courts in a variety of industries. In addition, he is a member of the Board of Directors of The American Arbitration Association and has experience both representing parties in arbitration, as well as serving as an arbitrator in private disputes. Most recently, he served as outside counsel to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ethics in connection with its investigation of a Member of Congress. He is a frequent speaker on corporate responsibility and ethics.
After receiving his law degree from UC in 1976, Martin served as a city and federal prosecutor from 1976 until 1980 in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1980 he was appointed to serve as a Special Attorney in the Organized Crime Strike Force in San Francisco, a position he held for four years. He then moved from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., where he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for four years before being promoted to the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, a position he held until he left the office to begin private practice.
Martin is a member of the D.C. Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and he is president of the Washington Bar Association. He has been listed in the National Law Journal’s “50 Most Influential Minority Attorneys,” and has ranked fourth in The Washingtonian’s list of “Top Lawyers. He has received numerous other distinctions.
Martin graduated from Howard University in 1973, where he pursued studies in business administration and political science, and is a recipient of Howard's Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition, he received the UC College of Law Distinguished Alumni Award in 2002.
Bulgarian LLM Student Yana Kostova Shares Thoughts on the City, Working at the Mayor’s Office, and Cincinnati Red’s Opening Day
UC Law’s nine-month LLM program is designed to introduce internationally trained lawyers to the U.S. legal system. One of the reasons the program is so attractive to many students is because of its flexibility. Some students can take advantage of a number of practical experiences with the various centers and institutes at the college and throughout the city. That was a bonus for current LLM student Yana Kostova.
Kostova grew up in Bulgaria, where she lived and studied through high school. When she turned 18, she moved to England, studying law at the University of the West of England in Bristol, working toward an LLB degree. Her focus was commercial law. Kostova gained experience working in the legal department of the Bank of Ireland before making the decision to move to the United States.
While she considered moving to California where her sister lived, Kostova ultimately decided to begin her journey in Ohio. “It is not the biggest city, but at the same time it gives you a lot of the things to do that you can do in bigger cities like New York or Chicago,” she said about the Queen City. Kostova added that the people are very nice here and the weather is a bit better than what she experienced in England. In her spare time, she plays tennis with UC’s club team. She played professionally as a child and is happy she is able to keep tennis as a hobby while in law school.
Prepping to Study US Law
While Kostova did not study law in her native Bulgaria, the transition to studying the field in the US was easy because of the similarities between English and American law, she commented. She also honed her skills reading and speaking English while in England, preparing her even more for studying in this country. After earning her LLM this spring, Kostova plans to continue to practice in the commercial law field in New York as she did while in England. But her time at the college has opened her eyes to other possible avenues for her career.
Kostova is currently interning with Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley’s office. “I wanted to work on establishing contacts and to develop my networking and interpersonal skills,” she shared of her goals with her internship. “But since working there, I have begun to find an interest in civil rights.” She noted that this area of law, in particular, is much different than her prior experiences. The internship also surprised her by introducing her to her first Opening Day parade. “It was my first parade – I had no idea what I was supposed to do,” she explained with a smile and a laugh. Kostova has also developed an interest in public interest work. She feels that it affords attorneys the opportunity to establish a work-life balance as opposed to some firm jobs where attorneys may work twelve-hour days.
Kostova offered some advice for students considering the LLM program in the future: “If you are unsure of what you want to specialize in, this is a good problem to have. The LLM program can be tailored to what you are interested in, and the externship programs allow you to get some practical experience to help you decide.”
Catalina Roa Pacheco Talks About the Socratic Method, the LLM Program, and Cincinnati Traffic
Catalina Roa Pacheco, formerly a practicing attorney in Colombia, will be graduating this spring with her LLM degree. Originally from Bogotá, Roa Pacheco moved to the United States in 2012 with her husband. Though she was working as an attorney in Colombia, Roa Pacheco was unsure of whether she would continue with the legal profession in Cincinnati. Her husband, who is completing his residency at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, recommended that she check out UC Law and the LLM program. In fact, she had the opportunity to participate in a program to learn more about UC Law, the LLM program, and the city of Cincinnati. “Working with the LLM Admissions Office made the process very easy,” she shared. “Seeing how easy it was to apply and that I was able to get a scholarship made my decision easy.”
In her spare time, Roa Pacheco shared that she enjoys watching movies, particularly documentaries, for some respite from the classroom and library. She also enjoys living downtown and taking walks around the heart of the city. “Cincinnati is completely different from Bogotá,” said Roa Pacheco. “But I have really enjoyed my time here. The people are amazing.” While Cincinnati is a smaller city, it still has much to offer, she believes. One difference she shared might surprise Cincinnatians: Roa Pacheco says that the traffic here is much better than in Bogotá. (Keep this in mind on your next commute through the orange cone maze!) Cincinnati also showed her snow for the first time; and Roa Pacheco finds the springtime here to be beautiful.
The Challenges of Different Legal Systems and the Socratic Method
Like many other internationally trained lawyers, pursuing her LLM degree is the first time Roa Pacheco has really engaged with a common law legal system. Not only is the legal system different and challenging to learn, but the classroom experience is also different. She remarked that the Socratic method was a bit intimidating at first (something most law students and UC Law alums can relate to).
Roa Pacheco has been able to gain additional practical experience outside the classroom with an externship at ProKids, a nonprofit agency that provides advocacy for abused and neglected children in Hamilton County. This sort of public interest work has struck a chord with her, and she plans on practicing in this field when she returns to Colombia in a few years.
Ukranian LLM Student Marina Nemirovska has Found Her Niche in Immigration Work
Marina Nemirovska grew up in Ukraine, living in Kiev, the capital of the country. There, she earned her master’s degree in engineering as well as her master’s degree in law. While she worked briefly in the engineering field, she opted to pursue a legal career. For 14 years Nemirovska practiced law in Ukraine. Initially she worked as a corporate lawyer, dealing with customs and contracts. After eight years of corporate work, Nemirovska opened her own firm to work as a private notary. “Instead of mainly witnessing signatures, a notary in Ukraine works in a broader area, preparing all sorts of legal documents,” she explained about the nature of her work. She did this work for six years before moving to Cincinnati.
It was meeting her husband that fueled her decision to move to the United States. Nemirovska moved with her daughter and pets (including a big Newfoundland named Bronya) and a “bunch of luggage.” Once here in Cincinnati, she started her education at the university, graduating with a paralegal studies degree. When she heard about UC Law’s LLM program, Nemirovska initially wanted to investigate it for her daughter. “My daughter received her law degree in Ukraine, but we moved shortly after she graduated,” explained Nemirovska. “I thought the LLM program might be a good avenue to start to her career in the US. Little did I know I would end up entering the program myself!”
Life in Cincinnati…and Kiev
Cincinnati is much different from her life living in the capital of the Ukraine. She noted that life in Cincinnati is much different than in her homeland. “Here, if you want to work, you have to drive,” she stated. “Back in Ukraine, I largely relied on public transportation to get around.” But even though Cincinnati is very different, Nemirovska does like the area—well enough to stick around and establish her legal career in Ohio. After she graduates this spring, she plans to take a bar prep course and then the Ohio Bar Exam. She is, admittedly, nervous about the prospect. “The law here is very flexible,” she said, “whereas back home we have only the code, and that is it.” She also commented that though studying the U.S. legal system a bit later in life coupled with the fact that English is not her native language may have contributed to the difficulties of studying law here, it was the transition from civil law to studying common law that has challenged her the most.
Interestingly, Nemirovska’s time in the U.S. has changed her interests in the law. She has developed interests in both immigration law and intellectual property. In December, Nemirovska became a U.S. citizen and, when taking into account the current events in Ukraine, she does not plan on returning to the country where she spent the first chapters of her life.
In fact, Nemirovska expressed an interest in opening a type of “center” for immigrants and international students. She has found that, even being here for years, it is difficult to learn how to find a job, how to get a driver’s license, and how to meet people, among other things. Commenting that there are very few Russian-speaking attorneys in Ohio, Nemirovska feels that this is one way that she can combine her life experiences with her legal training—both here and in the Ukraine—to help others.
UC Law Announces Partnerships with Business Incubators; Local Entrepreneurs Benefit
The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic at the College of Law cultivates new partnerships to provide legal assistance at local business incubators while giving students much-needed client counseling experience.
Cincinnati, OH—The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) at the University of Cincinnati College of Law has launched new partnerships with two local business incubators, delivering legal services to local entrepreneurs and providing law students with opportunities to use and enhance their lawyering skills.
“We’re excited to announce that the ECDC has now partnered with the Hamilton County Business Center, one of Ohio’s best startup incubators, and First Batch, one of the tri-state’s newest business accelerators,” said Lew Goldfarb, Director of the ECDC at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. “Partnerships like these are great for the community. Businesses benefit from critical legal services they may not otherwise be able to afford and students develop their legal skills. It’s a ‘win-win’ situation.”
The program, which launches in June and runs through August, connects incoming third year law students with small businesses at the Business Center and First Batch. The students, working under the supervision of a practicing attorney, are licensed to practice law under a “legal intern license” issued by the Supreme Court of Ohio. In addition to providing legal services to local start-ups, the students will be able to participate in some of the business training that is offered by the Business Center and First Batch.
During the inaugural year, the programs will be combined, so the same UC law students will serve clients at both business hubs. Thereafter, the plan is for the programs to run separately with students at each location. “Combining the programs during the inaugural year gives us a chance to assess the amount of and type of work each location requires so that we can determine how to best staff the programs in the future,” said Goldfarb.
"Throughout our history, the Hamilton County Business Center has benefited from an extensive relationship with the University of Cincinnati,” said Patrick Longo, the Business Center director. “By adding UC’s clinic on-site at the Business Center, it allows our clients to access quality legal advice from up-and-coming UC law students. As a full-service business incubation program, the Business Center is always looking to add program components that will give our clients a competitive advantage as they launch and grow their ventures.”
The Business Center, the longest-running and most successful business incubator in Southwest Ohio, helps entrepreneurs launch innovative businesses. In operation over 24 years, the Business Center has a long and successful track record of supporting and graduating innovative companies that strengthen the local economy and add jobs to the community. The Business Center provides office space, business services, coaching, mentors, shared services, connections, and access to capital to 65 tenant-businesses at its Norwood location.
"We're excited to be partnering First Batch manufacturing entrepreneurs with talented UC law students,” said Matt Anthony, co-founder of First Batch. “Minimizing liability risks and protecting intellectual property are important objectives for any innovative startup, but there are a number of unique challenges with manufacturing start-ups that the law students can help them overcome. Having direct access to legal advice is unusual for a young company, so this partnership will be invaluable to our First Batch program participants in their quest to scale their businesses."
First Batch, a four-month accelerator program located in Over-the-Rhine, identifies young designers with finished product prototypes, provides them with commercial space and support, and pairs them with local manufacturers with the goal of completing their first batch product run by the program’s end. First Batch was created to showcase Cincinnati manufacturing and highlight an untapped resource in the tri-state’s start-up culture, as well as boost the area’s economic activity, leverage local talents, and grow creative enterprise efforts.
“Cincinnati is quickly becoming an entrepreneurial hotbed,” said Goldfarb about the local impact of this type of program. “The more partnerships we can form to provide resources for startups, the more companies will want to come here. That’s critically important for the local economy.”
About the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic at the College of Law
The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic partners local law students with small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, representing them on transactional legal issues critical to their success. Client services include assistance and counseling on entity selection and formation, regulatory compliance and licensing, advice on trademark and copyright protection, and lease and contract review, negotiation, and preparation. Through its work, the ECDC hopes to give students a tremendous learning experience and to contribute to the economic development and revitalization of Cincinnati and surrounding communities.
Law Expert Examines Proposed Regulations to Protect Institutional Investors
University of Cincinnati research suggests that extending certain investment advisers regulations to broker-dealers would be “much ado about nothing” in protecting institutional investors.
Date: 2/4/2014 8:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
The global financial crisis of 2008 launched a litany of lawsuits in the U.S. as institutional investors claimed they were duped by the misrepresentations of Wall Street securities firms and their broker-dealers. However an examination of proposed new protections finds that extending certain regulations on broker-dealers would not be an effective solution to the problem. The article by Lynn Bai, a University of Cincinnati law professor, is published this month in the William & Mary Business Law Review.
The article is a response to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s examination of whether broker-dealers should fall under fiduciary duty when advising retail and institutional investors.
Fiduciary duty requires a person or organization to act in the best interest of the client. Although federal regulations hold investment advisers under fiduciary duty to their clients, those obligations generally don’t apply to broker-dealers, explains Bai.
Nevertheless, Bai says the article takes an angle that has been overlooked by proponents and opponents in the debate. “Since investment advisers are recognized as ‘fiduciaries’ but broker-dealers are generally not, people perceive that their standard of conduct is different when providing advice to investors,” writes Bai. “However, both investment advisers and broker-dealers are subject to elaborate, albeit different, sets of regulations that have, at least on the surface, some overlap in the scope of obligations their regulated financial service providers owe to their clients.”
Bai cites refraining from fraudulent advising as one of those obligations, which would apply to a client’s tolerance of financial risk.
The article delves into the standard of conduct of both investment advisers and broker-dealers, as well as the federal regulations that apply to both parties. It finds that standards of conduct in advising clients, whether retail or institutional, are comparable to investment advisers. Among those regulations is the required disclosure of conflicts of interest as well as acting in the best interest of clients.
Furthermore, Bai writes that both investment advisers and broker-dealers can be held liable for negligence or willfully violating their obligations. “There is no palpable difference in the enforcement of the obligations of investment advisers and broker-dealers, even though the former are labeled fiduciary while the latter are not,” writes Bai.
Bai says that imposing fiduciary duty on broker-dealers would result in only a limited effect on institutional investor protection, applying to a subset of institutional investors that are well capitalized, capable of assessing risks independently and acknowledging in writing their non-reliance on broker-dealers’ advice.
She adds that in private litigation, institutional investors face “substantial obstacles” in recovering damages from broker-dealers who violate conduct, and the issue would not be solved by applying fiduciary duty.
“Even though broker-dealers are not deemed fiduciary – they’re not given that label – if you compare their substantive obligations in dealing with institutional investors with the investment advisers under fiduciary duty, there is no substantive difference,” says Bai. “On the surface, it appears to be a good idea, but even for people who are receptive to fiduciary duty in dealing with clients, they can ask a client to sign disclaimers stating that the client is not going to rely on the firm’s recommendation only, that they’re going to do their individual homework. The court is very much in favor of disclaimers. People should do their research if they’re signing a disclaimer stating that they’re not relying entirely on this advice.”
The article suggests that if the SEC truly wants to add to institutional investor protection, it should not take the fiduciary duty route, rather it should examine whether a different approach be adopted by the courts in enforcing disclaimers that were insisted by broker-dealers upon their clients – an approach that is less preoccupied with the contractual provisions per se, but more receptive to the totality of circumstances surrounding the signing of the disclaimer contract.
Bai has a decade of experience working in corporate finance in securities law in New York and Hong Kong. Her research interests cover corporate law, empirical legal methods, property and securities regulation.
Eichner Fellow Matt Mikhail '13 reflects on summer experience in New York
Matt Mikhail had never been to New York before. “It was pretty exciting,” he said. “It’s unbelievably big.” Mikhail, a 3L, spent 10 weeks living and working in Manhattan, as part of a fellowship program created by College of Law alumnus and CEO of The Continuum Company LLC (TCC), Ian Bruce Eichner. Mikhail and classmate Yinan Zhang received hands on legal and business training working for Eichner’s real estate development firm.
For the first five weeks, Mikhail worked with the development team, which exposed him to both real estate and finance through sitting in on meetings and partaking in research and writing projects. The last five weeks, Mikhail worked closely with Mike Merola, TCC’s general counsel.
“He was great,” Mikhail said of Merola. “I spent a lot of time drafting letters of intent for purchasing property, confidentiality agreements, partnership agreements, contracts, and operating agreements. It was interesting.”
Mikhail became aware of this opportunity in August last summer, prior to his 2L year, when he saw an online posting for the fellowship as an On Campus Interview. He and Zhang wrote two-page essays on their interests in the position, with a specific focus on entrepreneurial spirit and interest in non-traditional career paths. The next step was a phone interview before finding out they were going to be New York bound the following summer, beginning in June.
Despite no prior exposure to real estate, Mikhail certainly has an interest in real estate after his 10-week experience in New York. “I didn’t really know anything about it before hand. Very little,” he said. “(But) real estate in general is pretty exciting."
Although Mikhail said he did not work extremely closely with Mr. Eichner, he was very appreciative of the opportunity and did enjoy interacting with him throughout the summer. “He was very welcoming,” he said, noting they had the occasional lunch together and talked about a variety of things.
While in New York, Mikhail and Zhang stayed in The Manhattan Club, one of TCC’s buildings, just a few blocks from Central Park and a short subway ride to the office each day. “New York’s exciting. There’s a lot going on. There’s always something to do.” Mikhail said. “It was tiring. You’d work all day and try to see the city afterwards and do something.”
For Mikhail, a lifelong soccer fan and player, the “coolest thing” he did in his free time was attend an international friendly soccer match at MetLife Stadium between Brazil and Argentina. Although Mikhail, a Brazil fan, was disappointed with the 4-3 Argentina victory, he said he had great seats and even witnessed a “hat trick” by Argentina’s Lionel Messi, perhaps the greatest player in soccer today. Of course, Mikhail said he enjoyed the food in New York as well.
The 24-year-old was raised in Covington, Ky., where he graduated from Covington Catholic High School before attending Wake Forest University and ultimately earning a degree from the University of Kentucky.
Mikhail switched majors a few times before settling on an English major. It was during Mikhail’s studying for finals junior year at UK when a friend encouraged him to join him in taking a LSAT study course. “I said okay, and told my parents the next day I was going to law school,” Mikhail said.
This semester, Mikhail is carrying over his “entrepreneurial spirit” from this summer into the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, which he is “excited about,” he said. In his free time, Mikhail is likely playing sports of some kind – whether that is soccer, tennis, racquetball, basketball or intramural flag football at UC.
By Jordan Cohen, ‘13
From a Small Town in India to Bustling Cincinnati, Pradeep Kandambath Continue to Pursue a Legal Career
From the small town of Payyanur in a region of southern India known for its long, sandy beaches, coconut trees, monsoon rains, and exotic spices, Pradeepkumar Kandambath moved to the United States looking to pursue a legal career. That was over 12 years ago. His circuitous journey, however, brought him to the College of Law as a student in the LLM program.
Kandambath attended Payyanur College (which is affiliated with Calicut University) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history. He then went on to attend Symbiosis Law School in Pune, a university town not too far from Mumbai. Not done with academia yet, Kandambath also received a diploma in electronic commerce in Bangalore from Asset International, an institute renowned for its programs in e-commerce and computer and information technologies.
“I was, in fact, born in a family of lawyers! My father, the late K.U. Narayana Poduval, was a civil lawyer and freedom fighter who began his practice in the 1940’s with former state minister of law and education K. Chandrashekharan. My uncle, the late K.U. Kunhikrishna Poduval, and my elder brother, the late Jagdishchandran, were also lawyers who have inspired me to take the legal profession with utmost seriousness and a sense of dedication,” Kandambath said.
From 1997 to 2002, Kandambath practiced in the areas of property law, employment law, contracts, and company law in a small firm at Kochi and at the High Court of Kerala. At Kochi, he had the opportunity to intern with former Judge of the Supreme Court of India and world renowned human rights activist, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, which he considers to be a milestone in his career.
“Cincinnati looked almost unreal to me when I first arrived,” said Kandambath. He contrasted Cincinnati with what he knew about urban life in India, where poverty, noise, and pollution are integral parts of urban life. “One thing noteworthy about the Cincinnati is that it is a bustling cosmopolitan city like any other major city in the U.S.,” shared Kandambath, “except for the rush and difficult commutes.”
Having never cooked before moving to the U.S., cooking is now one of Kandambath hobbies along with travelling and music. A notable difference culturally, Kandambath shared that the cooking back home was usually done by servants. “It may sound strange to a Westerner” he laughed. “I had not even seen the whole kitchen in the house I was born in and lived at for more than 25 years!”
Having established his life in Cincinnati, Kandambath admittedly had almost given up his goal of establishing a legal practice here. When he moved to the Queen City years ago, no LLM program existed, and impracticalities and cost prevented him and his family from moving to another city. Then when he was online searching for short-term courses in law, he discovered UC Law’s new LLM program and jumped at the opportunity to pursue his dream. “I always wanted to have a post graduate degree in legal studies,” he said. “The LLM program has been the most exciting thing that has happened to me since I came to the United States.”
Now nearing graduation, Kandambath hopes to work with a law firm or business establishment where he can utilize his unique, multinational educational background. “I have benefitted immensely by doing the LLM program at UC,” he said. “I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in any career path in the legal field.
Faculty members at UC have extensive experience in legal practice and bring outstanding scholarship and teaching experience to the class. I would advise every student to take full advantage of this as well as the career support at the university.”
3L Caroline Hyatt Wins Second Place in National Writing Competition
Congratulations to third year law student Caroline Hyatt who placed second in the 2013-2014 Louis Jackson National Memorial Student Writing Competition in Labor and Employment Law for her paper, “The Legal Enforcement of 'Proper' Gender Performance Through Title VII.”
The competition is sponsored by the national labor and employment law firm Jackson Lewis in memory of Mr. Jackson, one of the firm’s founders. The competition has been administered by IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law’s, Institute for Law and the Workplace. Her essay will be published on the Institute for Law and the Workplace website and she will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
Hyatt, a native of Cincinnati, is a graduate of the university with a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs with certificates in Asian Studies and in International Human Rights.
What have been some of the best experiences at the law school and why?
“In the summer following my first year of law school, I worked at the EEOC in the Office of Federal Operations in Washington D.C. Federal employees with discrimination complaints go through a longer administrative process before they have the option of going to federal court and this office is responsible for the appellate decisions of these claims. About a month before I started working there, they issued an exciting decision in Macy v. Holder. This case established that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on gender identity. Following this monumental decision, the EEOC had a panel that summer to discuss the impact of the case that I got to attend. This discussion triggered the nagging question in the back of my mind that eventually led to my MA/JD final project.
“That fall I started researching the topic of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the extent to which it might be protected under Title VII with the help of my MA/JD final project committee, made up of Professors Deb Meem from Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Sandra Sperino and Chris Bryant from the law school. Working on that project, a paper that utilized the theoretical concepts that I learned in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies MA program and applying them to a legal problem in a new and unique way, made my 2L year the most challenging and rewarding year of my academic career. The work I did with the EEOC and on my paper also led me to the specialty I plan to practice in when I graduate: LGBT employment discrimination.”
How did you get involved with the writing competition?
“When I finished the paper I wrote for my MA/JD final project, I knew that I wanted to rewrite it in a form that focused on the legal aspect of my work so that I could get the ideas out there in the legal field. While there have been huge gains in protecting the LGBT community from employment discrimination, there is a lot of work still to be done, and my research can help ensure that that work creates real change instead of just the appearance of change or even reinforcing the very societal norms that we are trying to shift. Professor Sperino recommended places to submit my work and all of my committee helped me edit and prepare my paper. I submitted my paper to the writing competition this past January and was just so excited to find out that my paper, “The Legal Enforcement of “Proper” Gender Performance Through Title VII,” had won second place!”
How will this experience help in your career?
“The opportunity to become so deeply knowledgeable in one area of law through the work I did on my article, which I spent a whole year on, has helped me focus my experiences toward a specialty in LGBT employment discrimination. This area of law is new and changing and it’s exciting to be a part of it.
Participating specifically in the writing competition and in winning second place puts my work and my ideas out there on a much larger scale. It’s accessible online to anyone who wants to see it and I hope that it can contribute to a larger conversation, in legal academia and among practitioners, about the direction the law is moving.”
Last Question: what did you think when you heard you won?
“I was so excited! I didn’t know when to expect an answer, so I was completely caught off guard. It was a great feeling after working so hard on something for so long to have that work recognized on a national scale.”
Hyatt plans to work in employment discrimination, doing litigation on behalf of employees, and specializing in working to protect the LGBT community from discrimination.