Cincinnati School of Law alumnus honored grad named to Chambers USA list
TULSA, Okla., July 7, 2017 – Cincinnati School of Law graduate Oliver Howard (J.D. 1979) was recently named by Chambers USA to its list of Leaders in Their Field. Howard, who practices law with the law firm of GableGotwals, was honored for his work in Litigation - General Commercial (Band 2).
The qualities on which Chambers USA rankings are assessed include technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, commitment and other qualities most valued by the client. Interviews are conducted with peers outside of the firm and clients in order to determine inclusion and rankings.
Howard was one of 15 GableGotwals attorneys to receive this ranking. The firm was also recognized as a Leading Firm in the areas of Energy and Natural Resources (Band 2), General Commercial Litigation (Band 2) and Corporate/Commercial (Band 3). It also was added this year as “Other Noted Firm” in the area of Native American Law.
GableGotwals is a full-service law firm of more than 90 attorneys representing a diversified client base in Oklahoma, the Southwest and across the nation. The firm has offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, Texas.
Connected: The Unique Ties of Cincinnati’s Mayoral Race
Forecasting election outcomes can be tricky business, but here’s one prediction guaranteed to come true: The next mayor of Cincinnati will have strong ties to UC Law.
That’s because among the three leading candidates in 2017’s mayoral race, two are UC Law graduates, and one cofounded a major UC Law initiative.
Incumbent John Cranley, who’s running for a second term as mayor, helped start the Ohio Innocence Project at UC Law in 2003, serving as administrative director until 2006. Candidate Yvette Simpson, currently in her second term as a city councilwoman, received her JD at UC in 2004. Former candidate Rob Richardson Jr., who recently completed a nine-year stint on UC’s Board of Trustees, graduated from UC Law in 2005.
Cranley, Richardson, and Simpson faced off in a primary election on May 2. The top two vote-getters—Cranley and Simpson—will now compete in the Nov. 7 general election.
Besides their UC Law connection, the three mayoral candidates shared many other things in common. They’re all lawyers, Democrats, and natives of Cincinnati. They also hold similar views on core civic issues, such as improving public transit, helping families get out of poverty, and partnering with regional institutions such as the University of Cincinnati. Yet each followed a unique path to UC Law, and eventually to this three-way race for mayor.
Going to UC might have seemed like a no-brainer for Richardson, whose parents, aunt, and sisters all attended the school. But his struggles with learning disabilities as a young student made the path to higher education seem less than certain.
“I wasn't a kid that naturally got school. I struggled pretty early on,” he recalled. “Because of that, and because I was probably bored by school, I didn't do as well taking the tests. That pretty much ruled out college for me.” One conversation with a teacher particularly discouraged Richardson as an eighth-grade student. “I told her I wanted to prepare for college. She told me, ‘Why? You’re not going to do that. You’re going to fail.’ That's a crushing conversation to have.”
Fortunately, Richardson’s mother countered his teacher’s message with these words of encouragement for her son: “People are going to have lower expectations of you. Some because you're an African American man, too. Don't let yourself be defined by anybody's narrow expectations. You define yourself for yourself, by yourself.”
Richardson eventually studied electrical engineering at UC, earning his B.S. degree in 2002. At that point, he knew he didn’t want to pursue a career as an engineer, though he had learned a great deal about solving problems. He decided law school was his next logical step, because “legal training teaches you how to identify problems, how to look at them from multiple sides,” he explained. “If you're going to be in public office, it helps to understand how policy, how the law works, and then you can change it.”
Soon after earning his JD, Richardson was appointed to the UC Board of Trustees, where he recently led the search for the 30th President, Dr. Neville Pinto, and advocated for systemic, top-down reforms to UC police policy following the killing of Samuel Dubose. Currently, he’s a marketing construction representative, and serves as Of Counsel with the law firm Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, specializing in labor and employment and securities litigation
In his first run for political office, Richardson hoped to take a fresh approach to governing the city. “We know that the best ideas often come from the people and places that have been ignored by the power brokers in City Hall,” he said. “It’s our responsibility, as leaders in our city, to be stewards and partners in innovation, inclusion, and creativity.”
Simpson’s journey began at the age of eight, when she pulled a book from the library shelf. Of all the titles in the “when I grow up” series, she chose the one about growing up to be a lawyer. Pictured on the cover, she recalled, was a man arguing his case before a judge. “And I said: ‘That’s gonna be me, except I’ll be wearing a skirt.’”
Simpson’s grandmother and other mentors encouraged her to stick with her dream, even as the young girl’s family struggled to make ends meet and many friends and family members dropped out of school or fell prey to criminal activity. She ended up with a full scholarship to Miami University, where she became the first in her family to graduate from college.
She made her younger self “very proud” by earning her law degree at UC. As a student, Simpson co-chaired the Student Legal Education Committee, was an executive member of the Moot Court board (and was inducted to the Order of the Barristers), served on the honor council, was a senior articles editor for the Human Rights Quarterly, and worked as an associate with both Baker & Hostetler LLP and Frost Brown Todd LLC.
Having gotten “a taste of leadership and involvement” at UC, Simpson said, “I loved it.” Just a few years later, in 2011, she was elected to City Council. Now she hopes to become the first African-American woman mayor in the city's history.
The classic novel that inspired Cranley to become a lawyer, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, centers around an attorney who helps free an innocent man. Years later, while working as a lawyer and serving on Cincinnati City Council, Cranley wanted to bring that kind of legal heroism to Cincinnati.
“I’d seen these Innocence Projects pop up in other states and I saw that there was none in Ohio and it would be great for UC,” Cranley said. He and his friend Professor Mark Godsey founded the Ohio Innocence Project at UC Law. Cranley ran the organization for its first few years. In one case, he successfully argued before the Ohio Court of Appeals, Fifth Appellate District to overturn Christopher Lee Bennett’s conviction of aggravated vehicular homicide.
Today, OIP is known as one of the most active and successful Innocence Projects in the world, and to date has secured the release of 25 individuals on grounds of innocence who together served more than 450 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.
“It’s an amazing success story,” Cranley said. “There’s no question that it gets back to the tradition of wanting to see the world better and to deal with injustices and build a more just society.” He took office as mayor of Cincinnati in December 2013, and hopes to be re-elected for a second term this fall.
By: Susan Wenner Jackson
Published: June 1, 2017
KMK Attorneys Named Leaders in their Fields
The following KMK Law attorneys have been selected for inclusion as “Leaders in Their Fields” in the 2016 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers.
Jim Burke, 1978
Joe Callow, 1993
Bob Coletti, 1982
Mike Scheier, 1991
Read the complete press release here.
Cincinnati Law Celebrates its 184th Hooding
Cincinnati Law celebrated the accomplishments of its graduates on May 13, 2017. Led by Interim Dean Verna Williams, 84 degrees were conferred, including 14 LLM degrees. Take a look at a few pictures from the ceremony and celebration.
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.
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.
Cincinnati Law alumni now fill first all-female Ohio First District Court of Appeals panel
When Judge Marilyn Zayas took her seat behind the bench at Ohio’s First District Court of Appeals, she knew she was making history. The Cincinnati Law alumna became the first Latina to be elected to a judicial post in the state of Ohio in last November’s election.
She and fellow Cincinnati Law alumni Judge Penelope R. Cunningham (‘87) and Judge Beth A. Myers (‘82) now comprise half of the judges on the Southwestern Ohio Appellate Court. They are the only women on the court; and all three won elections to their posts. (Two of the six judges on the court are appointed by the governor.)
“This is a remarkable achievement for Judge Marilyn Zayas and for Cincinnati Law,” said Cincinnati Law Dean Jennifer Bard. “Marilyn’s journey to the bar was not traditional, and she serves as an inspiration to all of us here. We’re honored that she has always made time to support our efforts, and we’re so very proud of all of her accomplishments.”
Judge Zayas, who was born in New York to immigrant parents, earned a degree in computer science at City University of New York, training which helped her land a job with Procter & Gamble. But she carried with her a passion for law, born of her experiences as a teen who saw how the legal system worked when her parents divorced and she grew concerned about the custody and care of her younger brother.
She left her job as a P&G tech manager to pursue her law degree in 1994; when she studied full-time, she had three children under the age of 4. After graduation, she spent time as a public defender before opening her own firm, MZD Law, in 2000.
While building her firm, Judge Zayas made time to teach students at her alma mater and also volunteered to train judges and magistrates about victims’ advocacy and immigration law. She now serves on the board of Beech Acres Parenting Center.
“Judge Zayas' story is an inspiration to anyone with a commitment to justice,” said Bard. “We could not be more proud of her as an alumna and appreciate her commitment to reaching back and increasing opportunities for the next generation of judges."
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.