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 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.
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.
Cincinnati Law Bar Results Announced; Students Exceed State Average by 15%
Today the results of the July 2016 Ohio Bar Exam were released and the University of Cincinnati College of Law, recognized as a “Best Value Law School” by National Jurist and preLaw magazines, recorded an 86 percent passage rate for all Cincinnati Law exam takers, second among Ohio’s law schools and 15 percentage points higher than the state-wide average of 70.5 percent. These numbers put the law school two percentage points behind our nearest competitor in Ohio and 10 percentage points ahead of all other Ohio law schools.
The passage rate for Cincinnati Law first-time takers also was 86 percent, second in the state. This rate exceeds the state-wide average passing rate of 76 percent. Almost 1,000 aspiring attorneys from across the state and the country took the July exam.
In addition, for those out-of-state jurisdictions that have released their outcomes, Class of 2016 results are very strong, representing a 90% pass rate, including a 100% pass rate in Indiana, Montana and West Virginia.
“Passing the bar exam is one of the singular events in every lawyer’s professional life and I warmly congratulate our students and everyone else who passed the Ohio Bar examination,” said Cincinnati Law’s Dean Jennifer S. Bard.
“Although in the end passing the bar exam is a test of an individual student’s knowledge, stamina, and analytical ability, it starts with strong teaching and support that our Cincinnati Law students get from every faculty and staff member. We have had a great year here and it reflects a truly exceptional group of faculty, staff and students strongly supported by the faculty, staff, students, and trustees of the University of Cincinnati. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to help our students succeed. Go Bearcats!”
Applicants who successfully passed the examination and who satisfied all of the Supreme Court’s other requirements for admission will be admitted on November 7, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. during a special session of the Supreme Court at the historic Ohio Theatre in Columbus, OH. The session will be streamed live via the Supreme Court and Ohio Channel websites at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov and www.ohiochannel.org. It will also be available statewide on the Ohio Channel’s local public broadcasting stations.
Cincinnati Law alum Trisha Culp ('02) joins Bradley's Nashville office as a senior attorney on the Healthcare team
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 10, 2016) – Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP is pleased to announce that Trisha A. Culp has joined the firm’s Nashville office as a senior attorney on the Healthcare team.
“Trisha is an esteemed and talented addition to our Healthcare group. We are thrilled to have her join the firm,” said Nashville Managing Partner Lela Hollabaugh. “As the healthcare industry continues to burgeon in Nashville, it is crucial for our team to remain ahead of the curve. We are proud of our existing capabilities and ongoing growth that will serve our clients well.”
Ms. Culp focuses her practice on assisting clients in the healthcare industry in a wide range of transactional, operational and regulatory matters. She has advised healthcare clients in a variety of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, practice formation and joint venture arrangements. She has significant experience preparing and negotiating physician employment and hospital-based physician contracts as well as other professional service arrangements. Ms. Culp also counsels clients on state and federal regulatory matters unique to the healthcare industry, including anti-kickback and self-referral laws. In addition to healthcare work, her experience includes small business formation and counseling, as well as transactional work in corporate and securities matters.
Ms. Culp is an active member of the Nashville Health Care Council and Leadership Health Care. She earned her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati and her B.S. (summa cum laude) from Ohio University.
Bradley combines skilled legal counsel with exceptional client service and unwavering integrity to assist a diverse range of corporate clients in achieving their business goals. With offices in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia, the firm’s 500 lawyers represent regional, national and international clients in various industries, including financial services, healthcare, life sciences, real estate, construction, technology, energy, insurance, and entertainment, among many others.
Stephanie Louka picked as new Director of the Ohio Department of Aging
Bonnie K. Burman, director of the Ohio Department of Aging and one of Gov. John Kasich's original cabinet members, will retire Aug. 1.
Kasich picked Stephanie Loucka, currently the chief of staff at the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, as Burman's replacement.“Bonnie has been a tireless supporter of ways to help older Ohioans thrive and contribute as active members of their communities and has been an invaluable member of my cabinet in helping us jumpstart some of our most innovative new programs,” Kasich said in a statement.
Burman, 63, was involved from her appointment in 2011 in "strengthening state efforts to serve the elderly, including preventative aging programs, senior health care reforms and policies allowing older Ohioans to remain in the comfort of their homes," the governor's office said. She also was given special assignments, helping launch key initiatives including drug abuse programs and the Community Connector mentoring grants. Loucka, a graduate of Otterbein University and the University Of Cincinnati College of Law, worked previously as human resources director and assistant director at the Department of Aging.
This article was published on dispatch.com on July 22, 2016 and UC College of Law doesnot own copyrights to it.
Littler's Lisa Kathumbi named President-elect of the Ohio Women's Bar Association
COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 2, 2016) – Lisa M. Kathumbi, an attorney in the Columbus office of Littler Mendelson, the world’s largest employment and labor law practice representing management, has been named president-elect of the Ohio Women’s Bar Association (OWBA). When her term as president begins in May 2017, she will be the first African-American to lead the OWBA, a 25-year-old professional legal association. Until that time, Kathumbi will continue to serve on the board under the leadership of current OWBA President Marilyn McClure-Demers, associate vice president and associate general counsel, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
“I am delighted to continue serving the Ohio Women’s Bar Association and to continue working with President McClure-Demers and other board members. Our goal is to continue to grow the OWBA’s membership while upholding the organization’s mission of promoting the leadership, advancement and interests of all women attorneys. I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as president in 2017,” said Kathumbi.
The timing of Kathumbi’s election to president-elect coincided with the OWBA welcoming American Bar Association (ABA) President Paulette Brown to serve as the keynote speaker at its 2016 Annual Conference. Brown, a partner at Locke Lord, is the first woman of color to lead the prestigious ABA, a 136-year-old professional legal association. Brown and the OWBA’s strategic leadership attracted over 400 lawyers from across the state and inspired attendees at the 2016 Annual Conference.
A steadfast advocate for OWBA since joining in 2011, Kathumbi was named the recipient of the association’s President’s Choice Award in 2014 for contributing ongoing support, energy, talent, time and vision.
An active member of the Columbus community, Kathumbi previously served on the editorial board for Better Lawyer, a publication of the Columbus Bar Association; as a founding board member of Ruling Our eXperiences (ROX), a nonprofit that provides evidence-based empowerment programming for girls; on the boards of the John Mercer Langston Bar Association and City Year Columbus; and as a volunteer for the YWCA Family Center and the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio.
At Littler, Kathumbi counsels and represents employers ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies. Her practice extends nationally and includes representation of healthcare providers, retailers, hospitality companies, restaurants, insurance companies, and small business owners in state and federal litigation. Kathumbi also works with clients to navigate the legal risks of day-to-day employment decisions, and conducts litigation avoidance training and seminars. Her strong reputation has earned industry accolades, including 2014 and 2015 recognition as a Rising Star in Ohio Super Lawyers®.
Kathumbi earned her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, her M.A. from the University of Chicago and her B.A. from the University of Cincinnati.
Littler is the largest global employment and labor law practice, with over 1,000 attorneys in over 70 offices worldwide. Littler represents management in all aspects of employment and labor law and serves as a single-source solution provider to the global employer community. Consistently recognized in the industry as a leading and innovative law practice, Littler has been litigating, mediating and negotiating some of the most influential employment law cases and labor contracts on record for over 70 years. Littler Global is the collective trade name for an international legal practice, the practicing entities of which are separate and distinct professional firms. For more information visit: www.littler.com.
College of Law Chief of Staff Installed as National President
Mina Jones Jefferson, Chief of Staff and Director of the Center for Professional Development, is now president of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), an association of more than 2,500 legal career professionals dedicated to facilitating legal career counseling and planning, recruitment and retention, and the professional development of law students and lawyers. The 44-year-old organization advises law students, lawyers, law offices, and law schools across North America and beyond.
Jefferson was installed at the NALP annual conference in April 2016. Her term includes service as president-elect in 2015-16, president in 2016-2017 and immediate past president in 2017-2018.
“It’s a privilege to have a leadership role with the preeminent organization for legal career professionals,” Jefferson said. “I look forward to advancing the initiatives identified in NALP’s strategic plan and upholding its foundational beliefs that law students and lawyers should benefit from a fair and ethical hiring process; that law students and lawyers are more successful when supported by professional development and legal career professionals; and that a diverse and inclusive legal profession best serves clients and our communities.”
Jefferson, a University of Cincinnati 1990 College of Law graduate, has a strong background in the legal hiring field. As a former hiring partner at a National Law Journal Top 250 law firm, she is one of the few law-school career-services professionals in the country who has worked on both sides of the table. She practiced commercial litigation for almost a decade and was one of the first African American women in the region elected to partnership at a large firm.
A published author, Jefferson writes on the topic of careers and professional development for numerous legal publications and is a sought-after speaker on the topic of professionalism. She has also taught ethics courses at the college, as well as the legal extern course.
Active in the community, she currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Cincinnati Academy of Leadership for Lawyers (CALL). Jefferson, a former co-director of the Law and Leadership Institute at the College, also served by appointment on the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Continuing Legal Education Committee. Additionally she has been a member of the board of the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, Children’s Law Center, ProKids, and the Cincinnati Bar Foundation.