UC Sports Law Club Competes at National Baseball Arbitration Competition
Two teams from UC Sports Law Club traveled to New Orleans to compete at the Tenth Annual National Baseball Arbitration Competition hosted by Tulane Sports Law Society.
Cincinnati, OH – Some go to New Orleans to party; these students went to compete. This spring semester, six members of UC Law’s Sports Law Club traveled to New Orleans to compete at Tulane University in New Orleans. Nick Kitko (3L), Mickey Sutton (3L), and Zach Johnson (2L) made up one team, while Matt Wagner (2L), Alex Spalding (2L), and Ken Westwood (2L) made the other.
Johnson, Kitko, and Sutton advanced to the quarter finals of the competition, succeeding to the final eight. (Kitko and Sutton competed as 2L’s, making this their second visit to the competition.) Johnson, vice president of the Sports Law Club, shared the team’s experience preparing for their first competition alongside their faculty advisor, Professor James Lawrence.
“The process begins with a written brief, just to make sure you’re doing the work. Tulane doesn’t want people to show up unprepared,” said Johnson. “After we submitted our written briefs, we came back from break a little early. We met with Professor James Lawrence at Frost Brown Todd to talk about our competition and what we were going to do. He helped us prepare, to know what an arbitrator looks for. Before you knew it, we were headed down on a plane the first week of school to compete.”
Professor Lawrence has been an adjunct professor at the law school since 1975. His current practice involves mediation and teaching dispute resolution. As a past chair of the firms’ Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Group, he was able to equip the teams with the necessary knowledge and skills to compete.
“Professor Lawrence read our briefs and talked to us about our oral presentations. He gave us advice on what to do, what not to do, and how to present properly.” said Johnson.
At the 2017 National Baseball Arbitration Competition, the teams were excited to see the guest arbitrators and judges, who were all experts in the field of baseball arbitration proceedings. The assistant manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Nick Krall, was one of many special guests that the teams had the opportunity to meet. Other judges and arbitrators included special assistant to the Philadelphia Phillies, Bryan Minniti; partner of Turner-Gary Sports, Rex Gary; and general counsel to the Major League Baseball Players Association, Dave Prouty—who judged the quarter finals of the competition.
“It was an experience that I cherish,” said Johnson, “especially being a fan of baseball.”
“There’s so much money to be made. Those contracts are massive, I mean, it’s money you can’t even quantify,” said Johnson. “If you’ve reached arbitration, it’s kind of your chance at really making your career a baseball career, rather than something that you’re chasing for a while and moving forward from that.”
After this experience the Sports Law Club is considering attending again next year. “I think we’re going to try to make it more of an official tradition for our Sports Law Society,” said Johnson. The competition definitely serves as a practical and exciting opportunity to apply what is learned in the classroom to real-life situations future attorneys may face.
About the National Baseball Arbitration Competition
The National Baseball Arbitration Competition is a simulated salary arbitration competition held in the early Spring semester at Tulane University. Similar to moot court or practice trial, this arbitration competition is modeled closely to the procedures used by Major League Baseball. The competition’s main goal is to provide participants with the opportunity to sharpen their oral and written advocacy skills within the unique specialized context of Major League Baseball’s salary arbitration proceedings. In addition to the competition, a collection of experts in the field of baseball arbitration serve as judges and discuss legal issues related to baseball.
About Arbitration in MLB
After a player reaches his first three seasons in Major League Baseball, they are eligible for arbitration, meaning that the player has a chance to challenge the club over the amount of money in which they will be paid. These proceedings in Major League Baseball are crucial to the business aspect of the sport, by determining the quantifiable value of each player. Though these proceedings don’t directly deal with the rules and regulations of baseball, arbitration basically resolves disputes in salary between the player and the club. On both the players side, and the club side, evidence and arguments are presented outlining statistics of the player’s performance, comparing the player’s statistics against other players who may have received more or less money, and illustrating other factors such as injuries, temperament, and consistencies throughout the player’s career. After both sides present their best argument, a salary is determined by an objective third party, and a deal is made favoring either the player or the club.
Author: Kyler Davis ’19, communication intern
BLSA Organization and President Support Community Youth, Work to Improve Diversity in Legal Community
3L Rebecca Knight, president of Cincinnati Law’s Black Law Student Association, collaborated with the YMCA’s Black and Latina Achievers Program to create program opening the doors of the legal profession to youth.
Cincinnati, OH – “I believe that every lawyer has an obligation to the community that they serve and that they work in.”
Rebecca Knight, 3L and president of the Black Student Law Association, has had a winding journey to reach her childhood dream of becoming an attorney. With a humble attitude and a passion for law, her hard work and determination would eventually lead her to join Dinsmore and Shohl LLP’s litigation practice after graduation. However, during her time as a student, she has never forgotten the importance of giving back to her community.
Since the age of 12, Knight wanted to be an attorney. Originally from the Washington D.C area, Knight studied political science at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Though she enjoyed her time here at a small liberal arts college, the path ahead of her still remained unclear.
Knight’s passion to help those in need lead her to apply for the Peace Corps after her undergraduate years. However, due to budget cuts during the year of her application, Congress was unable to secure the necessary funding. Knight was not deterred. Soon afterward, she landed back on her feet with a job as a paralegal.
“I’m the first person in my family to graduate from high school,” said Knight. “So I didn’t have any sort of background into what a lawyer does, what it takes to become an attorney, or what makes a good attorney. I really wanted to get my feet wet first, because I thought I knew what I wanted to do, and I thought I had the skill set for it. I allowed myself to test it out first, and it worked out really well.”
Knight spent two years as a paralegal, working full time at a small boutique firm under the direction of five attorneys. Though she recalls the work being daunting at times, Knight’s strong work ethic led her to go above and beyond her responsibilities all the time. When she finally reached the decision to apply for law school, she received overwhelming support.
“All my attorney’s really got behind me,” said Knight. “That’s why I got the opportunities, no other paralegals went to trials and that’s what I did. I drafted briefs, I did pleadings for them to sign, I went to depositions with them from time to time. I knew the cases, I knew the files, and I knew the people. All my attorney’s really got behind me, and that kind of solidified my decision to come to law school.”
Knight “cast the net really wide” in choosing the right law school for her. She was immediately drawn to the history of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Law. She was fascinated by the idea that 27th president and 10th Chief Justice of the United States, William Howard Taft, attended the university. Above all, Knight loved the class size, and the support from the faculty and staff. After her first visit, she fell in love.
“I loved everyone I met,” said Knight. “I remembered being so enamored, these people are incredible, and doing very big things in this city. The professors were engaging; everyone was interested in getting to know me a lot better. It was awesome, no other law school ever treated me like this. It’s a smaller environment and that’s kind of what I wanted.”
After arriving at UC’s College of Law, Knight excelled. In addition to being the editor-in-chief of the Cincinnati Law’s Intellectual Property and Computer Law Journal, and a student leader of Honor Council, Knight takes great pride in being president of the Black Law Student Association.
“My goal coming in as the BLSA president was to make sure that every student of color here has a place,” said Knight. “It can be intimating when you’re one of three black women in the class. It can be very isolating if you are constantly feeling like others might view you differently, you have to work harder to prove them wrong. I want to make sure every student of color that walks into this building feels like they have a safe space, and that’s what BLSA is intended to be.”
The BLSA maintains a strong commitment to the service component of their program. With help from Knight, the organization developed of a collaborative program with the YMCA’s Black and Latino’s Achiever’s program. The purpose is to prepare teenagers for college and beyond by providing them with career exploration opportunities, college visits, toastmasters, scholarships, and more.
The Black and Latinos Achiever’s program has numerous career clusters where students can engage with professionals and learn more about specific professions. However, after dropping off money the BLSA raised for the program in their annual basketball tournament, Knight became aware of an opportunity to really make an impact in her community.
“Last year we raised a little bit over $400 to buy a laptop for a student,” said Knight. “When we went to go drop off our scholarship check, of course, they told me about how the law cluster has been defunct for years now. That made me very sad, especially since I was one of those kids. If I had a program like that when I was younger, I’m sure that my path would have been a lot different, and much more focused. I didn’t know anyone who was an attorney or in law school, so, I had no idea. I could have gotten answers to my questions a lot earlier if there was something like this around. I have to do this; I have to be a part of this.”
Knight and the BLSA developed a curriculum for the Black and Latino Achiever’s Program that included everything a student needs to know to become a lawyer. She highlighted the important skill sets necessary for the work, what to do in undergrad, the LSAT, passing the bar, and other crucial aspects. In the curriculum, Knight even teaches the students about how the government is structured, and how the judiciary branch works.
“We really run them through the gamut,” said Knight, “all the things you can possibly do with law, how they work, and how laws directly impact your everyday life. We’ve even talked about police brutality and how it’s affected communities of color. You could see the light bulbs going off, and that’s when I thought ‘this is what I’m here for.’ We’re supposed to be teaching these kids this. By the end I have 10 kids who say, ‘I want to be an attorney’, and that’s amazing.”
The collaboration with the Black and Latino Achievers program is not only a way to fulfill the service component of the BLSA’s objective, but Knight also views this as an opportunity to make a change for future generations of color. The partnership is a way to directly impact Black and Latino youth in the area to be more involved in law, to overcome societal disadvantages, and make sure teens know that a career in law is attainable.
“If kids don’t know that this is an option for them, how can we increase diversity in the legal community nationwide?” said Knight. “It’s an issue, and it needs to be addressed. This is a small way of doing that. We’ve already made it, we’re here. We’re already very privileged people for being here. So now we need to bring more people through the door with us.”
On April 22nd, the community will have the opportunity to see the program come to life. In a mock trial event, the students in the Black and Latino Achievers program will be showcasing all the hard work they have done and the knowledge they have acquired about the law in a mock trial event at Cincinnati State Community and Technical College. Using a car theft case, students will take on the roles of each person in a court room during a trial.
“It’s an opportunity for the kids to show what they’ve learned,” said Knight. “This gives the parents and others in the community the opportunity to see what they’ve been doing. They understand every single person’s roles in the courtroom. They aren’t just acting out something, they know everything that they are doing.”
Though Knight will be graduating this year and starting her professional career at the Cincinnati offices of Dinsmore and Shohl LLP, her commitment to the community will never end. In addition to supporting the next BLSA president, she will be encouraging her/him to continue the collaboration with the Black and Latino Achievers Program.
“Nobody got here without the help of someone else,” said Knight. “We always want to take credit, but the reality is, if it wasn’t for someone who encouraged us, then we wouldn’t be here now. It’s small, but it’s important. We all need the push, and we’ve all been fortunate enough to have that, and so now we have to turn around and give it to someone else.”
About the BLSA
The University of Cincinnati College of Law’s chapter of the BLSA is part of the National Black Law Student Association. Initially created in 1969, the BLSA existed to open law school doors and enhance the quality of education for African-American students throughout the United States. The organization has been significant in providing African-Americans with providing ample opportunities and access to the field of law during the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and continues into the 21st century. BLSA is determined in preserve and advocate for major increases in the number of African-Americans faculty hired and African-American students admitted into law schools throughout the United States.
About the Black and Latino’s Achievers Program
The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati’s Black and Latino Achiever’s Program is a college readiness and career exploration program, which provides teens with the essential tools to pursue higher education and to identify different career opportunities. The focus of the program is to strengthen the community by strengthening the lives of the youth in the community. Student’s are mentored by career-oriented adults to engage in hands-on learning, college readiness, career development and leadership development. Through workshops, college tours, fundraising and more, the program exists to change the direction of lives. The program has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships, and engaged more than 4,000 adult volunteers though corporate and community sponsors.
Writer: Kyler Davis ‘19, Communication Intern
Professors Mank and Lenhart Receive 2017 Award for Faculty Excellence
Cincinnati, OH—Professors Brad Mank and Elizabeth Lenhart received the university-level Award for Faculty Excellence. This award is given by the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Professor Brad Mank, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the James B. Helmer Professor of Law, is recognized for his service and scholarship contributions to the College of Law. During the last few years, he has published, or had accepted for publication, numerous articles and essays, including articles in the Notre Dame Law Review and the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law. While maintaining an active scholarly agenda, Professor Mank has chaired the Academic Policy and Curriculum (APC) Committee over several years of significant work, has served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and served as co-chair of the site visit committee. Each of these service activities has required significant additional responsibility.
Additionally, Professor Mank is a highly regarded teacher in the areas of administrative, natural resources, and environmental law. And he serves as an advisor to the Immigration and Nationality Law Review (INLR), an internationally recognized, student-run law journal.
Professor Elizabeth Lenhart is recognized for her service and teaching contributions to the College of Law. Professor Lenhart brings significant practical experience with oral arguments, motion practice, and other professional skills to the classes she teaches. Prior to joining the College of Law faculty, she was a senior associate at Frost Brown Todd, focusing on complex business litigation, including all aspects of antitrust, business torts, unfair competition, shareholder derivative suites, and class action litigation. She was named an Ohio Super Lawyer Rising Star 2009 for commercial litigation.
Professor Lenhart is a gifted teacher, having received the College of Law’s Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching three times (in 2011, 2014, and 2016). In addition to her consistent high level of service to the College of Law, Professor Lenhart undertook a significant service project this year. She research and then drafted a report titled “Legal Research at the University of Cincinnati, College of Law; An Informal Report Based on Conversations with Practitioners and Students about What We’re Doing Right – and What We Can Do Even Better.” Her report was based on discussions with law students and members of the Cincinnati Bar about the research skills necessary to be a successful lawyer. As technology and the legal research landscape continue to evolve, her report and continuing research into methodologies of legal research will contribute to the College of Law’s ongoing evaluation of its learning outcomes in the area of legal research.
About the Award for Faculty Excellence
The Award for Faculty Excellence is intended to annually recognize outstanding faculty members in each college who represent excellence in all its forms. These awards are for those individuals nominated by their dean in recognition for exceptional performance in their college or department during the past year. They may have done an outstanding job of service in an especially significant fashion; perhaps their research has received special recognition; or their teaching has been especially innovative or important in meeting new milestones or changing the department or college culture. It is important that the nominee embody the Principles of a Just Community in practice through civility, honor, inclusion, integrity, or the promotion of justice.
Professor Solimine Receives University’s Excellence Award for Research Mentoring
Professor Michael Solimine receives the university-level Excellence Award for Faculty-to-Faculty Research Mentoring, a new award given by the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research.
The Excellence Award for Faculty-to-Faculty Research Mentoring is intended to annually recognize outstanding faculty members in each college who have demonstrated research mentorship with faculty at various stages of their careers. Research mentorship may come in various forms, with the understanding that many times mentorship is discipline-specific, and these various forms of mentorship will be considered equally. The award decision will be made at the dean’s discretion based on criteria that include demonstrable mentoring activities that support the development and success of peer faculty in clinical, translational, or basic science research.
This award is meant to recognize faculty contributions to their respective colleges, to the UC research enterprise, and to recognize the mentoring and support of emerging research faculty.
Professor Solimine has taught at the College of Law since 1986, received tenure in 1991, and since 1994 has served as the Donald P. Klekamp Professor of Law. He has demonstrably achieved excellence in research, teaching and service throughout that period.
With regard to research, Professor Solimine is nationally and internationally recognized as one of the leading scholars in the American civil litigation systems, including civil procedure, federal courts, conflict of laws, as well as election law. His scholarly work consists of six books (a monograph on federal courts (Greenwood Press), a casebook on appellate practice (West Publishing), two casebooks on election law (Carolina Academic Press), and two books for judges and lawyers on civil practice in Ohio courts (LexisNexis), and over 60 substantial articles, as well as numerous book reviews and shorter essays. His articles have been published in both peer-reviewed journals (e.g., Journal of Legal Studies, Supreme Court Economic Review) and in the law reviews of the top-ranked law schools in the United States (e.g., Michigan Law Review; Wisconsin Law Review; North Carolina Law Review; Ohio State Law Journal; Cornell International Law Journal; Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy). He has been invited to participate in and has published in 20 symposia, delivered scholarly papers at annual meetings of the Association of American Law Schools, and the Midwest Political Science Association, and by invitation contributed essays to academic blogs.
Professor Solimine has received four separate recognition awards from the College of Law for his scholarship. This spring he will receive the university’s Faculty Career Award. The distinguished character of his work is reflected in the numerous times his work has been cited and discussed in other books and articles. His work has been cited and discussed in over 2000 books and articles. Also, his work has been cited in the decisions of numerous federal court decisions (including the U.S. Supreme Court), and by the state supreme courts of Ohio and Iowa.
Professor Solimine has made frequent mentoring contributions. At the College of Law he has often served as chair of the RPT Committee, which plays an important role in mentoring faculty. Professor Solimine consistently reads and comments on works in progress of his colleagues, often providing critical input on articles and books. He also regularly assists colleagues at the College by providing them research and other materials relevant to their work.
Congratulations to Professor Solimine who truly demonstrates an ongoing commitment to research mentoring.
Evin King Released as OIP Celebrates #25
After maintaining his innocence for 23 years, Evin King was released due to the hard work, dedication and efforts of the Ohio Innocence Project.
Cincinnati, OH—Yesterday, April 19, 2017 the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) team watched a now-familiar scene playout as its client Evin King was released at the Cuyahoga County Courthouse by Judge Brian Corrigan. In 1995 King was convicted of murdering his girlfriend despite no direct evidence of guilt, such as an eyewitness account or forensic evidence. Now, 23 years later, he is a free man. King and the OIP’s other 24 freed clients have together spent more than 470 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.
Cincinnati Law’s Assistant Clinical Professor Jennifer Bergeron said "Mr. King was wrongfully convicted, and never gave up hope. It's hard to wrap your mind around how agonizing it must have been the past many years to have proof that you are innocent, but the courts and prosecutors simply refuse to look at the case again. This victory is a testament to the character and will of Evin King."
A Look at His Journey
In 1994 King’s girlfriend, Crystal Hudson, was found in a closet, raped and strangled. King was convicted based on his relationship to the victim and his alleged inconsistent statements surrounding his whereabouts on the day of the crime.
DNA testing of the semen from the rape kit and skin cells under the victim's fingernails demonstrated that Evin King was not the perpetrator. For years prosecutors did not respond to King’s motions for relief, even though the evidence of King's innocence was clear. And the trial court did not act on King's post-conviction motion for nearly 18 months before denying relief. The Eighth District Court of Appeals saw it differently, however. In 2016 they reviewed the trial court’s decision, and sent the case back to the trial court for a hearing, while specifically noting that the DNA evidence supported King’s claim of innocence. On Friday, April 14th the OIP learned that Cuyahoga County prosecutor Michael O’Malley had asked new prosecutors to take another look at the case. They did, and when O’Malley learned the details of their findings and reviewed an analysis of the evidence, he ordered King’s conviction be overturned and that he be released.
“While the initial delay in obtaining justice for Mr. King is disturbing, Michael O’Malley and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office deserve credit for turning this case around and correcting an injustice,” says Mark Godsey, OIP co-founder and director. “O’Malley’s involvement in the case since his recent election, along with his decision to put new prosecutors on the case, may have been the pivotal factor that secured freedom for an innocent man, and we are thankful for his heroic intervention.”
This exoneration is due to the hard work and dedication of many current and former OIP attorneys and fellows. Professor Bergeron has represented King for many years, along with former OIP staff attorney Carrie Wood (now at the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office). OIP fellows on the case include Taylor Freed'16, Katie Wilkin'16, Mallorie Thomas'17(expected), Joe Wambaugh, Bryant Strayer'14, Steve Kelly'17, Morgan Keilholz'18 (expected), Jon Walker'18, Scott Leaman'14, Thomas Styslinger'14, John Markus'15, and Julie Payne'15. Also, special thanks to the Ohio Public Defenders Office, particularly Kris Haines, who worked on King’s case as well for many years.
Watch videos of Evin King learning of his release, being set free by Judge Corrigan, and walking out of the courthouse a free man after 23 years in prison.
UC Law alum Erica Hall '05 is a Woman on a Mission
UC Law alum Erica Hall shares her work on behalf of children victimized by war.
During the week before spring semester, UC Law graduate Erica Hall (2005) returned to her alma mater to teach a short course on a weighty topic: children and war. In the span of five afternoons, Hall and a class of nine students explored some of the ways children are affected by war and the violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law implicated.
The course comes straight out of Hall’s work at London-based World Vision UK, where she leads policy and government advocacy on gender and children and armed conflict issues. She describes World Vision as “a development and humanitarian organization working to improve the lives of children around the world.” Prior to her current job, she worked on International Policy and Programmes at the Children’s Legal Centre and as a consultant for UNICEF.
“My job, basically, is to convince the UK government to do more and to do specific things to improve the lives of children overseas,” she said. Hall enjoys her professional autonomy. “I pretty much get to do what I want, which is great,” she said. “I've been successful enough in my current job that ... If I say, ‘Look, I think this is an issue we really need to be focusing on and we need to be pushing the government on,’ they let me do it.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in French, she started working in corporate marketing communications. After a decade in the field, Hall decided it was time to shift gears. “I kept changing jobs and thinking, ‘I hate this company,’ and then realized, ‘Actually, I think I just hate the job. It's just not for me,’” she said.
Instead, she wanted to delve into the world of international human rights law—which led her to UC. While researching law schools, “I had the most impressive spreadsheet you have ever seen,” she said with a laugh. “I tell you, it was a masterpiece. It took me months to put together. UC was very high on the list,” she recalled, based on the Urban Morgan Institute of Human Rights and its international summer externship opportunities.
“I came on day one—you can imagine, based on my spreadsheet—saying: ‘I want to go to Bosnia next summer. Here is a list of 10 organizations in descending order that I would like to work for.’” She got that internship, with a helpful reference from the Institute’s director, Bert Lockwood. In her second summer of law school, Hall interned at UNICEF. “I was working on some issues that were really important to me, particularly around holding peacekeepers accountable for sexual exploitation and abuse, or ideally preventing that,” she said.
During her time at UC, Hall decided to specialize in gender-based violence. “I had never taken a gender course. I never considered myself even a feminist,” she said. “I know that's a strange thing, but I had this image of ‘feminist,’ and I thought, ‘that's not me.’ Then I took “Feminist Jurisprudence” (taught by UC Law Professor Kristin Kalsem) and it completely changed my world view.”
Persistence pays off
The same dogged determination that drove Hall to become a lawyer and begin a new career in human rights continues to propel her forward at World Vision.
These days, government officials come to her for help with issues of children and conflict. But in the early days, she recalled, “it was literally me cornering someone at a reception, and saying, ‘You need you talk to us about this.’ And that person saying, ‘Oh my gosh… Team, meet with her, just so that she'll leave us alone.’"
In terms of legal influence, Hall explained how human rights law can be a “very analytical process of looking at what (certain countries are) already doing, sometimes looking for new laws.” For instance, she’s working toward new legislation in the UK that’s similar to existing US law, prohibiting military funding to governments who use child soldiers.
“I get to go and do research and meet the children that we're talking about, and do an assessment of where are the barriers—and they might be legal barriers,” she said.
Children in war zones
In December 2015, Hall co-authored the report No Shame in Justice, addressing stigma against survivors to end sexual violence in conflict zones. She based the report on field research she conducted in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, highlighting a survivor-centered approach to ending impunity and responding to sexual violence.
For her research, Hall met with children, usually ranging in age from 10 to 19, in their homes, schools, or sometimes even their town squares. “In a lot of the villages, there's a square where people meet. So we’d meet there ... sitting on the ground, under a tree,” she recalled.
So how do you get young survivors of violent conflict to talk about such traumatic experiences? “We do things like drawing your life story. ‘Here's what it was like in the bush, what it was like to escape, what it's like now...’ Then we talk about the drawings, or do some other kind of activities, that can get at some of the challenges they're facing, and what they see as the potential solutions to those challenges.”
The long haul
From research to advocacy, Hall points to real-world results as her measure of success. In the case of the stigma against survivors of sexual violence in Africa, “We got three-quarters of a million pounds over two years, to work on the issue in three countries,” she said. “Now I'm leading a working group to create principles for action that governments and UN agencies all over the world will then be using in terms of, how do we change this.”
And despite the magnitude of the problems she tackles, Hall remains optimistic rather than overwhelmed.
“For me, being able to go to the field makes a huge difference because I can see the difference that things are making. So you might think, this is a hopeless cause... but when you start seeing in some places that you are able to make a difference... when you see smiling children, who are so excited they're finally able to go back to school, it's worth it. It might take a long time, but it's worth it.”
Firm Life: Q&A with Kevin Tamm
After graduating magna cum laude from UC Law in 2013, Pittsburgh native Kevin Tamm dove into his law career as an intellectual property associate at a firm in Indianapolis. In 2015, he moved to Houston, Texas, to work at Bracewell, LLP, with some of the world’s largest oil companies as clients. We caught up with Tamm recently to find out how firm life is going so far.
Q: How did your experience at UC Law affect your decision to work at a large, full-service law firm?
A: After my first year, I interned during the summer and then during my second year of law school at GE Aviation. I worked over the summer full time and then during my second year of law school part time at GE Aviation in their environmental legal group. It was good to see how the in-house legal department at a big corporation worked. But they didn't hire new attorneys right out of law school. They only hired folks with many years of experience.
After my second year of law school, during my second year as I worked at GE, I was applying to law firms. Because of my engineering background and my general interests, I was applying to bigger firms that had intellectual property practices. I went to job fairs that had that as well. That's how I got my summer associate position, after my second year at a firm in Indianapolis (Faegre Baker Daniels LLP), not far from Cincinnati. I worked at that firm in their summer associate program, but I was in the IP group.
Q: How did you get your first job out of law school?
I was waiting for an offer from a firm I summered for. Then I finally got a full-time offer from them. I also asked them if I'd be able to intern there during my third year. Basically, the second semester of my third year I was going up to Indianapolis about two days a week to work for the firm. I was able to work remotely, as well, so on weekends and stuff I could work for them. Then pretty much over the summer after I graduated, I was able to move up there and took the bar. I worked in their IP group for almost two years.
Q. So what brought you to Texas?
When I was working (in Indianapolis), I actually was recruited because of my (previous chemical engineering) experience down to Texas. The firm I'm at now basically needed a chemical engineering patent associate. It was a pretty good offer—hard to refuse. I ended up moving down here and have been pretty happy.
Q. What’s it like to work there?
It's a much larger city. I live in Houston, near downtown. It’s a very industrial city—a lot of oil and gas companies, chemical companies, banks. So it’s a pretty big legal market. A lot of the law firms here are what you would call the New York firms. We're on a New York scale. You get to bill a lot of hours. You make more money. There's a lot of opportunity.
I really like it because you're given a lot of professional freedom. I have to bill 2,000 hours a year, but that doesn't mean I'm sitting at my office desk 2,000 hours a year. I travel a lot.
I work a lot with the IP group, which here is about 40 people. I also work a lot with the corporate folks on mergers and acquisitions. I work on licenses. I work on some employment matters. We're available, as the IP group, to help out the other groups in more technical issues that arise. I go to clients, manufacturing facilities and their offices quite a bit.
Q: How did UC help prepare you for firm life?
I would say that UC prepares you pretty well. I would say generally in the South law schools in the North are just viewed better. There's lots of law schools in the South that are unaccredited and not what you would call top tier.
I think the experience of being taught by an adjunct professor is invaluable because they're the ones who are actually practicing still. They would come over and teach maybe one day a week or two days a week for us. Their teaching I felt like is what really prepares you to practice, because they're the ones working at law firms. I really thought UC was good with that, letting a lot of their senior classes be taught by adjunct professors.
Q: As a relatively new associate at a firm, do you feel like you have to earn your stripes before you get to work on the “juicier” cases or clients?
I think that's true. I think for at least half a year, a year, you have to prove yourself to people. Once you've proven yourself to people that you can do the work, they give you essentially as much freedom as you want. At this point, I normally go to the partners when I have a really complicated or risky issue. But for the day-to-day stuff, the partners don't want to really be bothered with that. Once they trust you, they just expect you to handle the day-to-day legal work. They're around for support when you really need someone to sign off on something that has a lot of risk involved.
Q: What has surprised you so far about working as a lawyer?
The thing that I think still surprises me is just ... I don't know how best to word it. It's just the whole idea of doing legal work at a firm that people are willing to pay you to do. The billable rate law firms, especially big law firms, charge is extremely high. You think to yourself, "What am I doing that's worth this amount of money?"
But the thing is, the corporations we work for all have lawyers that work for them, so typically the stuff we're getting is stuff that they don't want to do, they can't do, they're too busy to do, or it's too complicated. A lot of the work we get is that type of work, where it's either really burdensome or tricky. It surprised me. You think, "Wow. How are they paying this? Why are they paying this?" But it's like, "Oh, because you're basically doing the work that the corporations don't want to do."
Q: Do you have a chance to pursue hobbies outside of work at all?
I bike quite a bit. I bought a townhome this year with my girlfriend. I've actually been buying rental properties in my spare time. The thing is—and most law firms are like this these days—you do work a lot, but it's not you're in the office a lot. You can work from home. You're constantly emailing and responding to emails from your phone. Oftentimes, if I have to bill a lot, I can sit on my couch and work remotely. It's a lot of work, but it's not like you have no free time.
Q: What do you think the future holds for you, career-wise?
When you're junior or mid-level at a law firm, you don't have to decide quickly. Myself, I don't know. I like it here. In terms of staying at a firm, I'm going to stay here. I'm not going to leave. I've looked at some corporate opportunities.
Additionally, over this past year I got really involved in politics. I got drawn into working on one of the presidential campaigns. During the election, myself and another coworker were called up to work in New York City on the election day operations for a campaign's legal team. I might in the next year or so be drawn into working politics.
Cincinnati Moot Court Team To Go International
This coming March, a team from the University of Cincinnati College of Law will compete in an international arbitration moot in Hong Kong.
By John B. Pinney, Senior Trial Lawyer and Chair, International Practice Group, Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP. and Moot team coach
Members of the Vis Moot Team
Over the past two years, the University of Cincinnati College of Law has been working towards fielding a team to compete “against the world” in Hong Kong in the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. Now, all of the time and hard work has come to fruition as a team of UC College of Law students will represent the tri-state in late March at the 2017 international competition, becoming only the second Ohio school to compete in the Vis Moot in history.
Making the Cut
In October, a team of eight law students, including three 3Ls, three 2Ls, and two LLM attorney students, was selected. Currently, the entire team is working on researching and preparing written memoranda supporting each side of a hypothetical commercial dispute; only the top four participants will travel to Hong Kong to compete.
While in Hong Kong, the team members will not only fight hard in competing against teams from all six continents, but will also meet and network with other law students, as well as attorneys practicing in international commercial arbitration, from all over the world.
What is the Vis Moot Competition?
In 1992, the Vis Moot was created for the promotion and study of international commercial arbitration and to train tomorrow’s legal leaders in the methods of dispute resolution of international business disputes. Named for Willem C. Vis, a law professor and United Nations diplomat dedicated to enhancing cross-border business transactions, the moot quickly became a success with hundreds of law schools from around the world coming to Vienna each spring. In fact, the moot was so successful that in 2003 a second venue in Hong Kong was established – the Vis East International Arbitration Moot. The 2016 moot attracted almost 400 teams to Vienna and Hong Kong. Competitors included teams from Harvard, Georgetown, Stanford, USC and Yale. This year’s competition, held at the City University of Hong Kong, is expected to host approximately 120 law school teams.
Each year, Vis Moot teams are given a “problem” in early October that is based on a hypothetical commercial dispute arising under the Convention for Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)1. The problem for the 2017 moot involves the sale of jet engine parts from a seller located in “Equitoriana” and a buyer located in “Mediterraneo.” In their “contract,” the parties agreed to resolve any disputes by international commercial arbitration in the country of “Danubia” administered by a Brazilian arbitral institution. (The problem is always drafted to require an understanding of the 1958 New York Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of International Arbitration Awards and the UNCITRAL Model Arbitration Law, as well as the CISG.)
Built into each year’s problem are issues involving both the procedures of international arbitration practice and substantive breach of contract issues based on the CISG. The procedural issues this year are whether the seller’s arbitration notice was timely and whether the seller should be required to post security in order to proceed with the arbitration. The substantive issues deal with whether the buyer or seller should pay for losses arising from fluctuating currency exchange rates and large unexpected bank fees. During the competition, each team will argue both sides through written memoranda and in oral arguments before real-life international arbitrators who have volunteered to judge the competition.
Competition Supported throughout Tri-State
College of Law Dean Jennifer S. Bard is a strong advocate for the law school’s international programs and in enhancing the international proficiency of the school’s students. In addition, the school has helped to partially underwrite the costs of sending the team to the competition. Dean Bard said,
“In a world where business in the Cincinnati region is increasingly becoming part of a globalized world economy, today’s lawyers need to know how to help clients resolve business disputes not only within the United States, but also in China, in Germany or, as a practical matter, anywhere in the world. We at the College of Law believe we must equip our graduates to have the skills required to practice law relevant in the 21st century, including international arbitration, which increasingly is becoming a necessity for today’s dispute resolution lawyers. The Vis Moot provides not only an exciting opportunity for our students to travel to Hong Kong and see first-hand another culture and legal system different from our own, but, more importantly, it introduces them to and allows them to learn from some of the world’s leading international dispute lawyers and arbitrators. We are extremely happy to support our students and their coach, Professor Pinney, as they compete in the 2017 Vis Moot competition.”
Additionally, Professor Rachel Smith, faculty advisor to the law school’s Moot Court program, and Assistant Dean for International Student Programs Nora Burke Wagner assisted with helping to coordinate the team and arrangements for the trip. Steve McDevitt, an associate at Frost Brown Todd, serves as the team’s assistant coach. McDevitt brings a wealth of experience to the team as he competed in the competition in 2013 and 2014 while at Georgetown Law School and has shared insights on writing winning memoranda and making effective oral arguments on an international competition level.
Why take this opportunity to participate in Vis Moot? Among the important benefits is their opportunity to join the Moot Alumni Association. All participants in both the Hong Kong and Vienna competitions are able to join the Vis Moot Alumni Association, which now has thousands of members. Through the association, team members can maintain their connections among their fellow competitors and the arbitrators, further enhancing their professional development and careers.
We’re confident that the Cincinnati legal community will enthusiastically support our “Cincinnati team” as they prepare for this rigorous challenge. By doing so, not only do we enhance ourselves, but also how the rest of the world views the tri-state and the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
1The CISG is a United Nations convention governing the cross-border sale of goods. The United States and 83 other countries have adopted and are parties to the CISG. Unless expressly disclaimed, the CISG automatically applies to contracts for the sale of goods where the parties to the contract (buyer and seller) are from different countries that are signatories to the CISG. For example, the CISG will apply, in lieu of the Uniform Commercial Code, to a contract specifying Ohio law because the CISG, as a convention to which the United States is a party, is part of Ohio law by virtue of the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Alum Lori A. Ross '00 gets appointed as Vice President of UC Office of General Counsel
President Neville G. Pinto is pleased to announce the appointment of Lori A. Ross as the university's new Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel, effective Feb. 20 (pending board approval).
An alumna of our College of Law, Lori first joined the Office of General Counsel in 2012 and recently served as Interim Deputy General Counsel. She stood out from the national pool of candidates because of her exemplary record of advocating on the university's behalf and serving as a strategic and trusted legal advisor to the university community and senior leadership on a broad range of complex, time-sensitive, and often high-profile legal issues and proceedings.
She also has been an active supporter of UC's equity and inclusion efforts, serving as a Diversity and Inclusion Resource Liaison and as a member of both the Bias Incident Response Team and the Equity and Inclusion Conference Planning Committee.
Previously in her career, Lori was an equity partner at Strauss Troy. She is also an experienced professional mediator trained in alternative dispute resolution and teaches Employment Law as an adjunct professor at the College of Law. She earned her undergraduate degrees at Miami University.
On behalf of the university, he also expresses deep appreciation to Karen Kovach, who served as Interim General Counsel for the past 10 months, and Vice Provost Matt Serra, who headed the general counsel search committee. Please join us in welcoming Lori to her new role.
Dean Emeritus Tomain Publishes Book Examining Clean Energy Policies
The United States has been experiencing an energy transition for over four decades, and now - thanks to the Clean Power Plan of the Obama Administration and the Paris climate agreement - a clean energy future is moving closer to reality. In Clean Power Politics, Joseph Tomain describes how clean energy policies have been developed and, more importantly, what's necessary for a successful transition to a clean energy future, including technological innovation, new business models, and regulatory reforms.
The energy system of the future will minimize the environmental costs of traditional energy production and consumption, and emphasize expanded use of natural resources and energy efficiency. Because many new energy technologies can be produced and consumed at smaller scales, they will shift decision-making power away from traditional utilities and empower consumers to make energy choices about consumption and price. In this way, a clean energy future embodies a democratization of energy.
Joseph P. Tomain is Dean Emeritus and the Wilbert & Helen Ziegler Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Dean Tomain's research and teaching interests have focused on Energy Law, Land Use, Government Regulation, and Contracts. Dean Tomain received his J.D. from George Washington University National Law Center and his A.B. from the University of Notre Dame.
Buy the book from Cambridge University Press or Amazon (available in hardcover and Kindle).
Also read Ending Dirty Energy Policy: Prelude to Climate Change, by Joseph P. Tomain.
Read "Clean Energy and the Myth of Free Markets," by Joseph P. Tomain, January 2, 2017, in The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Read "Gorsuch Must Show Commitment to a Democratic America," by Joseph P. Tomain, February 22, 2017, in The Cincinnati Enquirer.