Karen Hester Reflects on the Rewards of a Career in Diversity and Inclusiveness
With four degrees behind her, Karen Hester ’01 has a wealth of education, knowledge, and experience that she has turned into a career working in the areas of diversity and inclusiveness. While she was born in Chicago, her father was in the Army, so she moved from place to place growing up. She considers Kansas home, and now she works in Colorado.
Her first two degrees are from Kansas State University: a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in student personnel and counseling. She later earned her juris doctor from the College of Law before returning to Kansas. There, she earned a LL.M. in taxation from the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law.
“I enjoyed law school… as you can tell, I really enjoy learning,” said Hester, lightheartedly referencing her degrees. “I worked between each of my degrees, and when I was in law school I think that I was really able to enjoy the moment.” At UC Law, she was involved in numerous programs and student groups: Black Law Students Association, Tenant Information Project, Student Court, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, Student Legal Education Committee, and the Immigration and Nationality Law Review.
Currently, Hester serves as the executive director for The Center for Legal Inclusiveness in Denver, CO. The Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing diversity in the legal profession by actively educating and supporting private and public sector legal organizations in their own individual campaigns to help legal employers retain and advance diverse and female attorneys. And she feels strongly that her previous work has prepared her for this position.
Her professional career was in the field of career services at the University of Kansas School of Law. “I noticed that a lot of the work I was doing was related to diversity and inclusiveness at the time,” she shared. With some reflection and encouragement, she submitted a proposal to make diversity and inclusiveness officially part of her job duties, and it was ultimately accepted. “It was around this time that it really hit home for me. I remember having the feeling that ‘this is what I am supposed to be doing.’”
As the chair of the diversity committee for the Kansas Bar Association in 2011, Hester discovered the Center for Legal Inclusiveness while surveying what other organizations were doing. When the position of executive director opened up, she jumped on the opportunity and now has been in the role for about two years.
The Center held its 2015 Legal Inclusiveness & Diversity Summit on May 4, 2015 – a day-long conference with workshops, speakers, and panel discussions with over 200 attorneys from across the nation in attendance. The Center further produces an inclusiveness manual laying out step-by-step processes through which organizations can make themselves more diverse and inclusive.
In reflection on her work and her career path, Hester advises young attorneys and law students to “enjoy the moment.”
“I look at students today and see that things are different,” she said. “It’s more expensive, its harder to get a job -- I know some students out there wonder, is it worth it. I say it is. You may not take the path that others take, and that’s okay. Find your own way, you’ll find that the work you do is rewarding.”
College of Law Ranks 10th in Midwest Region for Hiring
Dean Mina Jefferson counsels Caleb Benadum ’14 and
A recent survey found that the University of Cincinnati College of Law ranked 10th in the Midwest region for hiring. Using data provided to the American Bar Association by the respective law schools, the survey compared UC Law’s employment rate with that of 42 Midwest universities. Read more about how the universities stack up in the ChicagoInno article: “42 Midwest Law Schools, Ranked by Graduate Employment”
Law students have the opportunity to work closely with the team from the Center for Professional Development—five attorneys with significant legal experience who are dedicated to preparing students for their career. The CPD team begins working individually with law students from their first semester through Professional Planning Meetings, helping them build competitive resumes, and managing activities and programs that promote professional development through service.
Learn how CPD helps prepare students for their careers: CPD
College of Law Assistant Dean named President-Elect of the National Association for Law Placement
Cincinnati, OH—Mina Jones Jefferson, Assistant Dean and Director, Center for Professional Development at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, has been named president-elect of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), an association of over 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 recognized as president-elect at the NALP annual conference in Chicago, IL in April 2015. Her term includes service as president-elect in 2015-16, president in 2016-2017 and immediate past president in 2017-2018.
“This is a wonderful and well-deserved honor for Dean Jefferson that reflects the high esteem in which she is held by her peers across the country,” said College of Law Dean Louis D. Bilionis. “As the legal profession continues to experience major change, it needs strong leaders – and Mina is a great leader in the field.”
“It’s a privilege to have a leadership role with the preeminent organization for legal career professionals,” said Jefferson. “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 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 & 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.
University of Cincinnati College of Law Alumni Association Announces Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
The 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award, which celebrates outstanding alumni, will be held at 12:00 noon on May 15 at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, Hall of Mirrors. To rsvp: contact Peggy Ruwe at 513-556-0071 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cincinnati, OH—The University of Cincinnati College of Law Alumni Association will celebrate three alumni at its 35th Distinguished Alumni Award Program on Friday, May 15, 2015. Award recipients include an alumnus whose career focuses on white collar and other major economic crimes; a former member of the US Air Force who served many years as a judge; and a trial attorney whose practice and firm concentrates on civil litigation.
"UC succeeds at producing large numbers of alumni who excel in their profession and in the surrounding community,” said Dan Startsman, Assistant Public Defender, Clermont County Public Defender’s Office, and President, Law Alumni Association. “I can think of no better example than this year's award winners. They are three alums who have not only risen to the top of their profession, but also have been recognized as leaders and have given back to the law school."
Each year the award recipient nominations come from the ranks of the school’s almost 5,000 alumni. Recipients exemplify excellence and achievement in the individual’s chosen field of practice or profession. Previous winners have included Professor Stanley Harper, Jr. ’48, well-known College of Law professor; the Hon. William S. Richardson ’43, Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court; and the Hon. William Howard Taft’1880, President of the United States and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Meet 2015 Award Recipient Kathleen Brinkman’75
Kathleen Brinkman’75, Of Counsel at Porter Wright, focuses her practice on representing corporations and individuals facing investigation or charges by federal or state authorities, or whose property the government seeks to forfeit. A former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Brinkman’s prosecution specialties were complex white collar and other major economic crimes, public corruption, and environmental crimes. In addition, she investigated and prosecuted healthcare fraud matters, including False Claims Act cases. A recognized authority in asset forfeiture, she has taught the subject throughout the country and around the world.
In addition to her litigation work, she spent many years back in the classroom as an adjunct professor at the College of Law, teaching many generations of attorneys the nuances of trial practice. Brinkman authored the book “Federal Criminal Procedure Litigation Manual” and co-authored “Sixth Circuit Practice Manual”. Finally, she is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2011 John P. Kiely Professionalism Award from the Cincinnati Bar Association, the 2005 Nettie Cronise Lutes Award from the Ohio State Bar Association, recognition by Ohio Super Lawyers® for Criminal Defense: White Collar, “Top 50 Women Attorneys in Ohio” by Ohio Super Lawyers® for 2015, and “Leader in Their Field” (Ohio) in the area of Litigation: White Collar Crime & Government Investigations by Chambers USA. Brinkman is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Meet 2015 Award Recipient the Hon. Robert H. Gorman ‘60
Judge Robert H. Gorman, a native Cincinnatian, followed the path of several family members into the field of law. His father, Robert N. Gorman, served on the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas and was later appointed to a seat on the Supreme Court of Ohio. His brother also attended law school.
After graduating from Brown University, Gorman returned to Cincinnati to the College of Law, graduating in 1960. Immediately thereafter, he was inducted into the US Air Force, where he served as a judge advocate general for three years. He returned to Cincinnati to develop a career in private practice. To prepare, he worked at Legal Aid of Greater Cincinnati and in Juvenile Court, gaining additional experience. It was at this time that he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives.
Soon, Gorman began his private practice career in earnest. Then, in December 1972, he joined the bench, where he remained until his retirement. Judge Gorman served on the Hamilton County Municipal Court, the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, and the Hamilton County Court of Appeals: First Appellate District of Ohio.
In addition to his work on the bench, he served as an adjunct professor at the College of Law, teaching appellate practice and procedure. Judge Gorman retired from the bench in 2006, but returned the next year as a visiting judge, a position he held until 2012.
Meet 2015 Award Recipient David P. Kamp’81
David P. Kamp is the President and Managing Partner of White, Getgey & Meyer Co., L.P.A., a firm specializing in civil trial practice. Having gravitated to courtroom trial practice while in law school (Dave clerked for a number of top rated litigation firms in Washington, Cleveland and Cincinnati), the transition from law school to private practice at Dinsmore & Shohl was relatively seamless. While at Dinsmore, Dave worked with the firm’s top litigators and participated as second chair in several major jury trials including a case tried before Chief Judge Carl Rubin in which Dinsmore and its client obtained a $7.3 milion verdict.
In 1987, Dave was recruited to White, Getgey & Meyer as the heir apparent to the firm’s then managing partner, Alvin White. He successfully tried major cases for the firm including the wrongful death case of John Getgey, one of the founding fathers of the firm.
Since becoming managing partner of White, Getgey & Meyer in 1989, Dave has continued to spearhead the firm’s litigation efforts on behalf of plaintiffs, defendants, large corporations, small businesses, individuals and not-for-profit institutions. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, has been named by Outstanding Lawyers of America, Chambers List and Best Lawyers in America, and has been ranked by SuperLawyers as one of the top three lawyers in the state every year since 2009.
Realizing the largess of his law degree and the scholarship money that permitted him to go to law school full time and not co-op, Dave contributes his time to teaching young trial lawyers in the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, and contributes financially to a vast array of law school-related funds, projects and other outside charities. When he is not in the office, which is infrequently, his spare time is devoted to family: his wife, Eileen, who has gracefully put up with Dave’s tireless work ethic; his three children, Jenny, Jeff and Evan; as well as his grandson, Corran. Regardless of his workload, Dave never misses a volleyball or lacrosse game.
College of Law Prepares to Celebrate 182nd Hooding
On Saturday, May 16, 2015 the College of Law will celebrate the accomplishments of its graduates at its 182nd Hooding Ceremony. The event will be held at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. For the last time Dean Louis D. Bilionis will lead the ceremonies, where 109 degrees will be conferred. This includes 98 juris doctor degrees, and 11 LLM degrees.
College of Law alumnus the Hon. Michael R. Barrett ’77, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, will be the keynote speaker. Judge Barrett, a Cincinnati native, is a double Bearcat, receiving both his undergraduate and law degrees from the university. He later served as a member of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees, including one term as chairperson.
Judge Barrett has a long and distinguished career in law. After taking the bar, he served as an Administrative Hearing Officer for the State of Ohio. Then, he joined the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office as an Assistant Prosecutor and later was named Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Felony Trial Division. Following the Prosecutor’s Office, he joined Graydon, Head & Ritchey, first as an associate and then as a partner, concentrating in general litigation. Later, he joined Barrett & Weber as a shareholder, where he remained until 2006. It was on May 25, 2006 that he was sworn in as a Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, a position he maintains today.
This year’s event will also include the presentation of the 2015 Nicholas J. Longworth III Alumni Achievement Award to Robert E. Richardson Jr. ’05, Of Counsel at Branstetter, Stranch and Jennings, PLLC and the current vice chairperson of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees. Richardson received both his BSE in electrical engineering and JD from the university. While at UC, he established the first college chapter of the NAACP in the tristate and was elected student body president. In 2002, he was awarded the university’s highest honor for undergraduates – the UC Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence.
At his law firm, Richardson’s practice areas include labor and employment, securities, and class action litigation. He serves as a construction marker representative for the Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust for the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida. Three years ago Richardson made history when he was elected secretary of the Board of Trustees at the University of Cincinnati, the youngest person to ever be elected as an officer.
Also being honored will be this year’s winners of the Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which will be announced soon. Additional Hooding participants include Professor Sean Mangan, Faculty Reader; Professor Janet Moore, Faculty Hooder; and Professor A. Christopher Bryant, Faculty Assistant Hooder.
Wendy Calaway ’98 Wins Landmark Case in Ohio Supreme Court
UC Blue Ash College professor Wendy Calaway took an appeal in a murder trial all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court and won, setting a new precedent for criminal cases across the state.
Calaway, who is a practicing attorney and professor in the Behavioral Science Department at UC Blue Ash, appeared before the justices last spring to argue that they should overturn Joseph Harris’ murder conviction and award a new trial. She stated that by allowing the testimony of a court-appointed clinical psychologist after Harris abandoned his insanity defense, the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated. In a recent ruling, the justices voted unanimously to overturn the conviction and award a new trial. (Read full article)
Profs. Bettman and Moore Discuss Ohio v. Clark (podcast)
Professors Marianna Bettman and Janet Moore discussed Ohio v. Clark on March 2, 2015 for Bloomberg News. Listen to the podcast. (view podcast)
Karen Kovach Talks about Technology, Law Review, and the Value of Good Client Service
A theme in Karen Kovach’s life has been a preference for variety. This resulted in what might be considered a non-traditional career path to law. At the dawn of the age of computers, Kovach’92 worked for eight years in the field of computer programming, partially due to some advice she took from her father. “I didn’t know a lot about computers, but I knew it was going to be a growing field,” she said. “My dad has always been a big influence in my life, and on his recommendation I gave it a try. It turned out to be the thing I enjoyed best since leaving high school.”
After spending nearly a decade in the computer programming field, Kovach came to UC Law. “I really thought I would continue to work in the area of technology after law school, whether it be copyright or otherwise,” she explained of her expectations as a law student. However, while she was a student here, Kovach worked on Law Review, writing a piece on an issue in the area of criminal law. It interested her so much that she ended up externing in juvenile court. After law school, she became a magistrate in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, which was something she had not anticipated at the outset of her legal career. What had started out as a daunting law review assignment had turned into a passion and a career.
After more than 10 years on the bench, Kovach left the court and worked for the next 11 years at PowerNet Global Communications, a leading telecommunications company. It was there that she honed her skills in issue spotting and project management, while helping her colleagues understand the legal angles of their business plans and ideas. Now, she employs these skills as Deputy General Counsel for the University of Cincinnati.
Having started last April, it has been an enjoyable year for Kovach back at the university. “I consider myself very fortunate to have started working here,” she said. “Coaching and management are aspects of my job, and I love that I get to lead a team working with some great attorneys here as well as the young folks around the university.”
The variety of legal issues at UC serves to keep her on her toes and always learning something new. “Leaving PowerNet Global I remember thinking that I might miss the focus on technology that I had working at a telecommunications company,” she explained. “But as it turns out, UC has technology issues as well, and also all of the free speech, religion, and labor and employment concerns that come with a public institution.” The diversity that UC offers her in terms of assignments has turned out to fit well with her preference for variety. She compared the job to law school in how she continues to learn about different issues as they arise.
Kovach reflected on her career path, noting that the desire to do something is the most important factor. “Nothing is ever out of bounds,” she said. “You can always do something that you want to do; you just have to figure out how to get to where you want to be.” From computer programming to the courtroom to different roles as a general counsel, Kovach ‘s path has certainly exemplified this theme.
In parting, she shared this advice: “Work really hard at learning to provide really good client service. Regardless of the context of your job, whether it be as a general counsel, as a firm attorney, or otherwise, it’s all about concentrating on what your client needs. If you can do that, you’ll be successful in whatever you choose to do.”
Thom Jackson’85 Shares the Biggest Lessons of His Career and the Importance of Homework
Hamilton, OH born Thom Jackson ‘85 loves to share what he calls “the story my CV doesn’t tell”: the account of one of the biggest breaks in his career – how a proposed $1500 settlement led to a position on a national taskforce, a $5 million settlement, and a big lesson. Students and alumni alike can all learn from this basic, but important, tenet: do your homework.
Jackson studied political science at DePauw University before coming to the College of Law. Here, he was involved in many student organizations, including the Black Law Students Association, the Student Bar Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union. In addition to making some lasting relationships, the classroom lesson that has perhaps impacted his career in the biggest way has been the skill in analyzing complex regulations that he learned in his third-year regulatory class focusing on drug approval. That class and lessons learned would soon come in handy.
Instead of going into private practice in his hometown as a general practitioner—something he had strongly considered doing—Jackson made a decision that would ultimately impact the direction his career would go. “In Chicago I started out in a litigation position with the Department of Health and Human Services,” he said. “I gained tremendous litigation experience, and I excelled, in no small part, due to my third-year classroom experience dealing with complex regulations.” And tremendous his experience was. He argued cases in federal district courts and in the United States Court of Appeals in the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Circuits.
Then came one of the biggest turning points of his career. Working on several cases, he saw one that was a much smaller case than the others, so Jackson decided he would try to settle it quickly. “When I called opposing counsel to get an agreement for the $1,500 I thought this case was worth, he told me something I will never forget: ‘Do your homework.’”
Noting that to a young practitioner those words hit home, he began to look deeper into the case, and he soon found that there was regulation which, if enforced, could get Medicare $10 billion that it was otherwise without. “I wrote a 15-page memo on enforcing the regulation. The next thing I knew, I was on a national taskforce.” Jackson tied the story together by sharing that the $1,500 case from earlier actually resolved in a settlement of about $5 million. “Doing his homework” paid off after all.
Jackson set his sights on becoming a general counsel. He supplemented his litigation skills over time with experience in mergers and acquisitions, a move to which he attributes much of his success. After working as general counsel in several companies, he has risen through the ranks and is now the CEO and President of EdisonLearning, Inc., a company that has pioneered bringing business metrics into the education context. The company is a leading international educational services provider, creating effective and sustainable solutions to raise student achievement.
Today, EdisonLearning serves 150,000 students in the United States and the United Kingdom, and has recently signed agreements, expanding to Ghana and Botswana.
“There are several things, looking back, I would say to myself as a law student,” he shared. “First, finish strong. While your grades may not ultimately serve as an indicator of how successful you will be in the profession, it has a great impact on where you start out. Second, don’t stop planning. Plan your career as much, if not more, than you planned your education. The best way to get to where you want to go is to have an idea of what steps you need to take to get there. Study the people who are succeeding in the field you want to get into and emulate them. Third, remember that no opportunity is too small. What I initially thought was only a $1,500 case turned into a $5 million case and a huge step forward in my career. Finally, I would tell myself to dream bigger. While it is easy to look at my successes and see that I have done many things right, I often think back to a number of decisions where I turned down an opportunity because I did not feel I was ready for them. Especially as a young lawyer, I found myself to be too self-guarded.”
Kari Jones Talks About Giving Back to UC Law
Originally from “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” (aka Minnesota) Kari Jones ’04 moved to Northern Kentucky before attending the University of Kentucky for her undergraduate studies. As a UK student, Jones studied journalism and advertising. After graduating, she considered law school, but when she married her husband and started a family, she chose to put her legal aspirations on the back burner. In the interim, Jones worked for 12 years with a software development company in Blue Ash.
“I always had a plan to return to the classroom to study law,” she shared, and she did so in 2001. She enjoyed her experience as a law student, during which she was a member of Law Review and involved in the Student Bar Association. After working with Ulmer & Berne LLP as a summer associate during law school, Jones continued on with the firm after graduation in 2004. As an associate, she was on the civil litigation team working on a variety of cases, including those involving medical malpractice, construction defects, and personal injury. “The variety and activity of working in litigation was something that I enjoyed,” she shared. “While it was still very much an office-setting job, I enjoyed the opportunities outside the office, whether it was at court or taking depositions or visiting clients. You’re never really sure what you’re going to encounter.”
Jones resigned her position with Ulmer & Berne LLP with the arrival of her next child, and spent several years at home. She picked up the hobby of running and ran in several half-marathons. After five years at home, Jones was back in the job market and noticed a job opening with the College of Law. “I had always thought to come back to UC Law,” she said. “My time at the law school had been truly enjoyable, and to be able to come back and contribute once again to the law school community was an opportunity I could not pass up.” Now, Jones is an associate with the Office of Academic and Student Affairs. She works with both the law school’s Registrar’s Office, assisting with requests and reviewing files, and the Admissions Office, talking with prospective students and handling marketing and outreach work.
Jones Shares How to Excel at Work and Life
“Find your passion,” advises Jones. “Don’t do something just because it is the only thing you think you can do.” There is no denying that there can be a lot of pressure on law students, and she readily acknowledged that; however, she also has seen what a little patience and drive can lead to. “I’ve seen my friends and classmates go out and do so many different things since we graduated, and it has really stood out to me that those who have found what they love doing are excelling in work and in life.”