Professor Jacob Katz Cogan Named 2016 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award Recipient
University of Cincinnati College of Law recognizes the scholarly achievements of international law expert Professor Jacob Katz Cogan with its annual Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award.
Cincinnati, OH—International law expert Jacob Katz Cogan, the Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law, is the newest recipient of the Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award. Each year, this award recognizes outstanding research and scholarly achievement by a member of the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
“Professor Cogan is an influential, internationally recognized scholar,” says Cincinnati Law Dean Jennifer S. Bard. “His current research is shedding new light on international law that will have a significant impact on the global legal community.”
Professor Cogan’s research projects include:
- A study of the changing scope of international law—how the purview of international law and institutions has shifted over time.
- An exploration of “operational international law”—the informal (and sometimes hidden) rules that are created through the practices and understandings of states and international institutions.
- A closer look at the structures of global governance, especially international organizations.
In the realm of scholarly publications, Professor Cogan served as co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of International Organizations (2016) and Looking to the Future: Essays on International Law in Honor of W. Michael Reisman (2011). His articles and essays have appeared in the American Journal of International Law, the European Journal of International Law, the Harvard International Law Journal, and the Yale Journal of International Law, among others. One of his published pieces was awarded the Francis Deák Prize of the American Society of International Law.
Professor Cogan is an active member of the American Society of International Law and an elected member of the American Law Institute. He teaches a variety of international courses, as well as contracts, and has been awarded the College of Law’s Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Since 2007, he has edited the International Law Reporter, a widely read blog on scholarship, events, and ideas in international law, international relations, and associated disciplines.
Professor Cogan earned his J.D. from the Yale Law School, his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University, and his B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the College of Law, he served as an attorney-adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, where he received the Department’s Superior Honor Award.
As this year’s Schott Award recipient, Professor Cogan will present a public lecture during the upcoming academic year.
Cincinnati Law Gains Three new Faculty Positions to Support the Ohio Innocence Project
College of Law hires three faculty members to support the work of the Ohio Innocence Project. Jennifer Bergeron, Donald Caster and Brian Howe have been appointed to new professorships, further recognizing their work at the college.
Cincinnati, OH—The University of Cincinnati College of Law hires three new clinical faculty members for the Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) thanks to the exceptionally generous and visionary gift of philanthropist Dick Rosenthal.
Jennifer Bergeron, Donald Caster and Brian Howe, formerly OIP’s staff attorneys, are now Assistant Professors of Clinical Law. Their new positions involve teaching and supervising law students enrolled in the OIP Clinic, investigating and litigating claims of actual innocence by Ohio’s prisoners, and taking a public role in supporting the work of the Ohio Innocence Project.
“Adding three faculty positions to support the Ohio Innocence Project is a commitment to justice and to legal education at the University of Cincinnati College of Law” said Jennifer S. Bard, Dean and Nippert Professor of Law. “Not only do these three individuals bring a deep commitment to the mission of the Ohio Innocence Project, they are committed teachers and have already had a substantial impact on the education of hundreds of law students.
“Making them members of the faculty allows them to continue their important work representing clients while at the same time giving them the opportunity to expand their efforts in sharing the experience they have gained in representing the wrongfully accused with lawyers all over the world by supporting their already significant writing and public speaking activities. The impact of being able to hire three new faculty members of the same time represents the kind of big picture thinking that Dick Rosenthal and his family’s generosity to the law school has supported over the past twelve years.”
Added Mark Godsey, the Daniel P. and Judith L. Carmichael Professor of Law and Director, Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project, “ I am thrilled with the elevation of these three Ohio Innocence Project attorneys to the position of Assistant Clinical Professors of Law. Dick Rosenthal's gift, and the support of our many donors, made this possible. But the work of Jennifer, Donald and Brian, and their efforts to free the innocent, is what inspired Dick and many others to support our work. There could not be three more deserving lawyers and scholars."
Jennifer Paschen Bergeron ’02, Assistant Professor of Clinical Law
Jennifer Bergeron joined the OIP legal staff in 2007, wanting to refocus her career from litigation to public interest. A 2002 alumnae of the College of Law, she was a fellow with the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights while attending law school. She also was a member of the University of Cincinnati Law Review. Prior to law school, she earned a B.A from Centre College and an M.A. from the University of Virginia.
Upon graduation from the College of Law, Bergeron worked as an associate at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, and Ulmer & Berne LLP, focusing on employment litigation. Intrigued by the work of the OIP, she had followed the case of Clarence Elkins, one of its first exonerees, which impacted her decision to focus on social justice. When an opportunity to join the OIP legal staff presented itself, Bergeron decided to join the team. In an interview several years ago, she discussed why she enjoys her job as an attorney with the OIP—the clients. “When you believe a client is innocent, but he or she is stuck in prison with no one else to turn to, you can’t walk away from that,” she said. “It’s also a huge thrill when you actually exonerate someone.” In her role she also works closely with law students, training a new group of fellows each year.
Donald Caster ’03, Assistant Professor of Clinical Law
Donald Caster has the benefit of having worked on both sides of the aisle – as a prosecutor and, now, as a defense attorney. This experience has given him insight into a prosecutor’s point of view on post-conviction cases, which is invaluable as a staff attorney and teacher with the OIP.
A graduate of Youngstown State University, he received his J.D. from the College of Law. While a student here, Caster was a member of Moot Court and the University of Cincinnati Law Review. He was also a fellow with the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights. After graduating, he clerked for the Honorable Robert C. Chambers, Chief Judge, United States District Court, Southern District of West Virginia. Thereafter, he returned to Cincinnati to join Gerhardstein, Branch & Laufman, a civil rights firm, as an associate. Subsequently, he opened a solo practice, focusing on criminal defense and appellate litigation. He later worked in the Appellate Division of the Butler County Prosecutor’s office before joining the OIP as an attorney.
As an Assistant Professor of Clinical Law, Caster will continue his work teaching students and litigating cases. In addition, Caster and Assistant Clinical Professor Brian Howe deliver presentations and publish articles on aspects of the innocence field. The professors most recent work is scheduled for publishing this spring in the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Review: Taking a Mulligan: The Special Challenges of Narrative Creation in the Post-conviction Context.
Brian Howe’10, Assistant Professor of Clinical Law
After graduating from The Ohio State University, Brian Howe pursued a career in advertising. However, recognizing that he wanted to find a more fulfilling career, he decided upon law school. And from the start he knew he wanted to work in the area of public interest.
While attending the College of Law, Howe worked on the University of Cincinnati Law Review and as a fellow with the OIP, researching and investigating cases he would have the opportunity to litigate years later. The recipient of numerous awards, he received the Gustavus Henry Wald Memorial Prize for Contracts, the Ernest Karam Book Award, and the Thompson Hine Flory Advocacy Prize.
Upon graduation, Howe was awarded an Equal Justice Works fellowship, representing consumers who faced predatory lending and servicing practices in rural southwest Ohio. After the two-year fellowship ended, he continued this work as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, defending foreclosures, handling evictions and assisting with other related cases. Howe joined the OIP as a staff attorney in 2014 and has helped litigate several exonerations, including the case of Derrick Wheatt, Laurese Glover and Eugene Johnson, who spent 20 years in prison for a crime they did not commit. Howe worked on this case as an OIP fellow.
Composing more than the Law: How a Piano Prodigy Combines Music and Law
A passion for music, education, and law brought Dr. Everett N. Jones to Cincinnati Law. Now a second-year law student, he is finding fulfillment combining these three distinct fields.
A Natural Talent for Music
An active performer, educator and interpretive pianist, Dr. Jones showed a natural talent for music from an early age. Choosing to make music the focus of his academic career, Dr. Jones holds bachelors and masters of music degrees from Rowan University, as well as doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance with a cognate in composition from the University of Cincinnati’s world-renowned College Conservatory of Music (CCM). Jones has also studied with music world greats Elizabeth and Eugene Pridonoff and the late Richard Fields, and received certificates from the Moscow State Conservatory Summer School, Prague Master Classes, and the Belgium International Piano Master Classes.
Dr. Jones is known today for playing traditional repertoire and music of African-American composers. He has been a soloist with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Mississippi Symphony, played solo recitals at the Kennedy Center, and has worked with many noted musicians including Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Donnie McClurkin. Dr. Jones also works as a music professor at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.
Dr. Jones says his love for music was what sparked his interest in law. “I’ve studied and worked professionally in the music world for many years. This led me to develop a strong interest in copyright law and labor and employment law.” All of this led him to Cincinnati Law.
Developing His Law Skills
During the summer between his first and second year, Dr. Jones had the opportunity to work in the General Counsel’s Office for Cincinnati Public Schools. He says he was drawn to this position because the General Counsel's Office handles a wide array of responsibilities, including labor and employment law, litigation, administrative, education and contracts law.
He says his favorite part of the experience was drafting legal documents, which included drafting a memorandum on Ohio’s Open Meetings Act that was presented to the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education; drafting a motion opposing a union’s motion to exclude drug and alcohol tests; and developing a cross examination outline for an expert witness.
While his experiences in the legal world have been radically different than those in his music career, Dr. Jones has enjoyed it nonetheless. The most rewarding part of law school, Jones says, has been “adjusting to a different way of thinking and writing.”
And he can appreciate how the music and law intertwine. “Reading music and reading legal cases are vastly different,” he said, “but both deal with subtleties, require complete focus, and take years to master.”
Authors: Michelle Flanagan and Sherry English
Cincinnati Law Swag for Sale
The SBA Hooding Committee designs and sells Cincinnati Law apparel to offset the cost of hooding regalia for graduating students. This year, the Hooding Committee has been working hard designing a wide range of Cincinnati Law apparel for students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Whether you're in need of new law swag or looking for great gifts for the holidays, the Hooding Committee has got you covered!
To better streamline our sales, we have created an order form for our new apparel items. In addition, we now accept Venmo, so it is easier than ever to get your law school swag!
To order items, you have three different options:
- On Campus: Print out the order form, fill it out, and leave your form and payment in the 3L Reps mailbox
- Electronically: Fill out the form on your computer, email it to the Hooding Committee, and pay us with Venmo.
- If you choose this option, our Venmo account is @UCHoodingCommittee and our email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Once we receive your order form and your Venmo payment, you will receive a confirmation email.
- Mail: Print out the order form, fill it out, mail it to the UC Hooding Committee (The address is at the bottom of the order form.)
If you have any questions don't hesitate to reach out to the Hooding Committee co-chairs, Jordie Bacon and Catie Carney at email@example.com
First Time Candidate Makes Good: Meet Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval
First-time candidate, next generation activist and Cincinnati Law graduate Aftab Pureval ‘08 was just elected Clerk of Court for Hamilton County (OH). Imbued with a strong belief in public service—he grew up volunteering with his father at Dayton area soup kitchens and performing charity work at his Sikh temple—beginning a career in elected public service could be considered a natural next step. Called one of the party’s “rising young stars” by David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party in a recent Cincinnati magazine article, Pureval won the position his first time up with 52% of the vote.
Where it All Began
A native of Beavercreek, OH (Dayton area) and the son of immigrants, he attended The Ohio State University, where he was elected student body president. One of his biggest accomplishments there was lobbying the Ohio state legislature for increased funding for higher education.
Pureval then matriculated to Cincinnati Law. Here, he served as an editor of the University of Cincinnati Law Review and also worked in the Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order clinic, representing victims of violence. During this time he had the honor of being appointed by Governor Bob Taft to work on a taskforce with university presidents and state legislators to study higher-education funding and submit strategies for reform.
After graduation from law school, Pureval moved to Washington, DC, joining anti-trust law firm White & Case LLP. Tapping his service and social justice bent, Pureval continued pro bono work representing battered women, for which he received a firm-wide award.
Realizing he missed the tri-state, he decided to return home, taking a position as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice. In the role of federal prosecutor, he worked with the FBI, Secret Service, and other law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute felonies involving guns, crimes against children, and white-collar crimes. Currently, he works in-house at Procter & Gamble as an attorney for a billion-dollar brand. He also co-owns Pendleton bar and grille Nation.
But now, after months of campaigning, Pureval will be leading Hamilton County’s Clerk of Courts.
What is the Clerk of Courts?
Not considered a politically glamorous job and often the least understood, it is, possibly, one of the most pivotal posts in the city’s system of justice. The office keeps the functions of the courts running smoothly and fairly for judges, attorneys, plaintiffs, defendants, and the public at large. The Clerk of Courts office files, dockets, indexes, and preserves 1.6 million documents each year for civil, criminal, domestic relations, and appellate cases. In addition, it sets the fee structure for the courts; serves summonses, warrants, and subpoenas; and makes available to the public 34 million recorded documents. And in today’s digital age, it has to develop and service the technology that keeps the whole system moving.
He’s Still Helping Others
Though his job keeps him busy, Pureval has remained committed to service. He has continued his work championing women’s issues as a board member of the Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Cincinnati Union Bethel. Last year, he co-chaired a major region-wide initiative called The Grand City Experiment to help make Hamilton County more welcoming and inclusive. Finally, he has been an active volunteer with the United Way and the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati.
A Message From Dean Jennifer S. Bard
As Thanksgiving approaches, we have a lot to be thankful about at Cincinnati Law. Last week it was my privilege to see 67 of our students sworn in as members of the Ohio State Bar. Following up on our number one status in the February bar, the class of 2016 had an exceptionally strong bar passage rate in Ohio and around the country. Please have a look at the chart to see just how much our students are outperforming higher ranked schools.
Our entering class not only brings us back to our historic ideal—125 students—it also reflects a continued diversification of the law school community. At a time when you may read of law schools compromising on quality or rigor, you can rest assured that admission to Cincinnati Law remains highly selective and competitive. We do not admit any student who we think is unable to succeed in the classroom, pass the bar, and participate in professional development activities leading to a first job. You may be interested to know that today’s admissions process also includes an initial character and fitness screening. Although we cannot look into anyone’s heart or soul, we do require disclosure of past events that would cause concern to an interviewing committee.
We are thankful for the generosity of alumni like Bruce and Ginny Whitman who have established a fellowship to create opportunities for our students to have meaningful work experiences before they graduate. Through the newly-established Whitman Fellowship, students will receive a stipend to work for an employer specializing in representing individual plaintiffs and their families in personal rights litigation, tort and employment law. The Whitman’s mission is to help find and train a cadre of students who want to champion the needs of the “little guy.” This is a great way to start!
While attending the annual dinner for the fellows of the Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry a few weeks ago, I was struck with the thought that our students benefit greatly from an institution that allows them to have such different and varied real world work experiences. The Weaver fellows were also:
- working in private law firms,
- interning with federal judges, and
- participating in clinics like the Innocence Project, the Indigent Defense Clinic, the Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic, and the Urban Morgan Institute.
All without interrupting their academic studies. Indeed, these experiences are incorporated into their daily program. Because of our location, so near to many legal work opportunities, our students don’t have to choose between the classroom and experiential learning opportunities.
Finally, I remain impressed and grateful for the dedication of our faculty and staff. In reviewing teaching evaluations at the end of each semester, I am delighted by the fact that every professor here has student evaluations declaring him or her a “favorite” teacher or “the best” we have. All of them. Given the high scholarly productivity of our faculty and their considerable involvement in a wide array of professional and community activities, their obvious dedication to teaching and mentoring individual students is something special to this law school.
I hope this letter finds everyone enjoying the start of a happy and healthy holiday season. Please note the two admissions events we will be having over the next weeks, an open house for prospective students on November 18th and a smaller event on November 23rd to share information about Cincinnati Law with students home from college. If you know someone considering law, invite them to one of our open house events. Or, they can RSVP online: DeanOpenHouse
With Warm Best Wishes,
Cincinnati Law Hosts Founder of Multi-Million Dollar Real Estate Tech Company as First Entrepreneur-in-Residence
Austin Allison, founder and CEO of multi-million dollar real estate tech company Dotloop will share his inspiring story at the law school on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 12:15 p.m. in Rm. 114. All are invited to this free event. Food will be provided; rsvp to Lori Strait at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cincinnati, OH— Hear this inspiring story of how UC graduate Austin Allison took a leave of absence after his second year at Cincinnati Law to begin his new start-up, DotLoop - a real estate technology venture. DotLoop has become one of the most successful start-ups ever in Cincinnati, surpassing $1 trillion in real estate closings and was purchased by real estate giant Zillow Group in 2015 for over $108 million.
Allison co-authored Peoplework, a best-selling business book about putting people first in a digital-first world. Among his many accomplishments, Allison was named to Forbes 30 under 30 list and Inman News’ Innovator of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year. He has also been featured on the cover of several major national publications, including Entrepreneur Magazine’s Young Millionaire’s Edition. Allison has earned his success through hard work, innovation, and treating people with respect.
Allison has been named Cincinnati Law’s first “Entrepreneur-in-Residence” due to his tremendous entrepreneurial success and for his willingness to engage with his alma mater. Allison will be involved from time to time in the future with Cincinnati Law’s business law and entrepreneurship programs.
The Entrepreneur-in-Residence is a new initiative at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Individuals are chosen based on their entrepreneurial success and engagement with the law school. This event is sponsored by the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic and the Entrepreneurship Law Club.
30 Day Snapshot @ Cincinnati Law
The Ohio Innocence Project hosted Jennifer Thompson, the co-author of the memoir Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption. Picking Cotton is the true story of the friendship that developed between Jennifer Thompson, a rape victim, and Ronald Cotton, the accused rapist, who was wrongly convicted. 9/8/2016
The Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights and the College of Law’s Master’s in Law Program for Foreign Trained Attorneys co-sponsored a visit by guest scholar Dr. Ildiko Szegedy-Maszak, affiliated with Universidad Pontificia Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia University. Dr. Szegedy-Maszak discussed the significance of the Colombian peace process, which was the result of four years of negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). 9/14/16
The Student Bar Association hosted former Ohio Governor Robert Taft at the law school. Governor Taft, who began his career in public service as a volunteer teacher for the Peace Corps in East Africa, served Ohioans as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, as a Hamilton County Commissioner and as Ohio’s Secretary of State. 9/15/2016
The Constitution Day lecture featured the Honorable David F. Hamilton, Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Judge Hamilton’s lecture, Liberty, Politics, and Human Nature; Protecting the Constitution and the Rule of Law, delved into our constitutional form of government—with its divided powers, checks and balances, and commitment to the rule of law— and how it might be easy to take for granted in the 21st century. He discussed how frustration with political outcomes and stalemates, and temptations inherent in human nature, put constant pressure on the vital constitutional protections of our liberty. Those protections require constant attention and enforcement, for without them, we risk losing the liberties we have inherited. 9/16/2016
The Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice co-sponsored a movie screening of the documentary Race to Execution. This documentary explores the deep and disturbing link between race and the death penalty in America. Following the stories of two Death Row inmates—Madison Hobley of Chicago, Illinois and Robert Tarver of Russell County, Alabama—the film wove their compelling personal stories together with groundbreaking scholarship on the racialized carceral state. The screening was followed by an insightful panel discussion, with representatives from the Ohio Innocence Project, the Ohio Public Defender’s Office, the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, an OIP exoneree, and the filmmaker. 9/21/2016
The Ohio Innocence Project hosted an event at the House of Blues (Cleveland, Ohio), featuring the Exoneree Band, a touring group of wrongfully convicted prisoners-turned-musicians. Band member and OIP exoneree Raymond Towler shared billing with local musical groups composed of judges and attorneys. The next day the John Carroll University chapter of OIP-u hosted band members and others for a panel discussion on wrongful conviction.9/22/2016
The Master’s in Law Program for Foreign Trained Attorneys (LLM program) hosted Olivier DuBos, Professor of Public Law, University of Bordeaux and Sciences Po Bordeaux (France) and Jean Monnet Chair, for a weeklong visit at the law school. In addition to attending classes, Professor DuBos toured various law school clinics and the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office, as well as observed Indigent Defense Clinic students in court. 9/26/2016
The Ohio First District Court of Appeals held oral arguments at the College of Law. Afterwards, the judges and lawyers discussed the cases and spoke with students. Visiting judges include the Honorable Patrick Fischer, the Honorable Patrick DeWine, and the Honorable Russell Mock. 9/27/2016
The American Bar Association’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division (GPSolo) hosted a panel discussion at the College of Law, where the discussion centered on “How to Become Practice Ready as a Solo or Small Firm Attorney.” The panelists—representing area small firms—shared their experiences, provided advice and answered students’ questions about solo life. 9/29/2016
The Federalist Society hosted Professor Derek T. Muller, Pepperdine School of Law, who led the discussion “Can Trump or Clinton Graduate from the Electoral College?” Professor Muller talked about the Electoral College and ways it might thwart both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, if legislatures and electors so desire. Commentary was provided by the College of Law’s Professor Michael Solimine. 9/29/2016
The College of Law hosted the inaugural Bearcat Dash and Bash Race to benefit the OIP and the university’s Athletics Department’s scholarship fund. Nearly 2,000 runners and walkers crisscrossed campus and the surrounding community for the race. The OIP to date has helped 23 individuals obtain freedom, many of whom were on-hand to participate in the Freedom Walk on the university’s campus. 10/2/2016
The Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice co-sponsored the panel “Department of Justice Report on Policing: What it Means for Cincinnati.” After fatal police encounters with Black citizens sparked a national conversation on the state of American policing, the U.S. Department of Justice prepared reports on policing practices in Baltimore and Ferguson. These reports described patterns of unfair treatment of citizens, particularly against poor and Black citizens. The panel discussed the reports and how the findings from these reports can be used to create a more equitable society, particularly in the city of Cincinnati. 10/4/2016
The Ohio Innocence Project celebrated International Wrongful Conviction Day at the law school and at OIP-u events across the state. Events included discussion groups about wrongful conviction, incorporating the Netflix series “Making a Murderer”; developing information tables to promote awareness among university students about wrongful conviction and the OIP; and the lighting of Cincinnati’s Duke Energy Building in the colors symbolic of the wrongful conviction movement. 10/4/2016
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.
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.