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Asked and Answered. Q&A with Dean Bard


How do your advanced degrees help you as a Dean?

Although my first advanced degree and most important one is my law degree, I use the others every day.  Public Health is a field with a very distinctive methodology.  It seeks to prevent harm at the earliest possible stage.  So, for example, public health’s earliest emphasis was on safe food and water.  Today a good example would be to contrast public health’s focus on developing effective vaccination strategies versus medical’s emphasis on treating patients once they are ill.  That approach works well in a law school because it asks us to identify the results we want and then to consider the earliest point where we can intervene to achieve them. 

An example of how the University of Cincinnati College of law is already using this method is our introduction of the concept of the “Complete Professional” during orientation for first years so that by the time the students enter the practice of law they already have the complete package of skills they need to succeed.

Since my Ph.D. is in the field of Higher Education it too is very useful.  It showed me how to use research findings to understand how today’s students learn and how they see the process of becoming a professional.  It also me how important it is to use assessment tools to see how well a program or policy is achieving its intended result.  It can be easy to think that because we’ve all been to school or because we hear feed-back from the loudest voices that we know what works and what doesn’t.  But I’ve seen to many studies where “conventional wisdom” turned out to be wrong to assume that what we think we see on the surface is actually reflective of what’s going on.  >

To take that a step further, what I learned from my study of research methods and doing my own research is that it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that just because one thing follows another or that two things usually happen together means that that one is causing the other. 

So, for example, if we added a question to the admissions application and the next year fewer students started applying, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are related.  Another thing I learned in my Ph.D. study is how many resources are devoted to studying higher education.  I began the habit of reading The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education and University Business every day and as a result see how factors like government regulation and the economy are affecting students around the world.   I’ve read several articles lately and been to some excellent presentations, including one by our own Joel Chanvisanuruk that shows how the high-stakes testing that has permeated K-12 education has changed the way our students are prepared to tackle the challenges of legal education.  When teacher pay and job security is dependent on how students perform on standardized tests, there is less time devoted to skills like writing and problem solving.

Immediately before coming to the University of Cincinnati College of Law I was Associate Vice Provost for Academic Engagement for a large, public research university.  That meant I had the responsibility to identify the wide range of activities that faculty, staff and students were doing that blended traditional academics and scholarship with direct involvement with the community. Although some of this included traditional service projects, its core was a new kind of engagement identified by the Carnegie Foundation in which universities and communities work together in ways that are mutually beneficial to both.  So, for example, a chemistry class might not just visit a water treatment plant but actually be taught there so that the class could be involved in the daily challenges of maintaining a safe water supply. Law Schools have long been ahead of the curve in this kind of activity because even before formal clinics became a part of the curriculum, students and faculty have gotten involved in using the law to address community needs.

The tradition is particularly strong at the University of Cincinnati College of Law and I am very excited by what I’m hearing every day about the impact our faculty, staff and students are having by working not just for but with our community.   I look forward to sharing with our community the results of a survey we are doing right now to catalog these activities.   These include those you’ve heard about such as the highly successful work of the Ohio Innocence Project, the Entrepreneurship Clinic, and the Battered Women’s clinic but it extends well beyond that to programs like the Law & Leadership Program that brings high school students into the building for a five week program, the student volunteer organization that prepares returns for students on campus, the staffing of human rights organizations around the world by fellows in the Urban Morgan Institute.

What Do You see as the Challenges Ahead for the Law School?

Many of the challenges our law school faces come from rapid changes to the way legal services are delivered.  Rapid advances in communication has made it easier for clients to meet their legal needs through on-line only law firms that do not have the over-head costs of a traditional bricks & mortar firm.  At the same time, the economic crash of 2012 has had a permanent impact on what the clients who had traditionally spent the most on legal services were willing to pay.   Large law firms have permanently changed their hiring practices and that has affected the practice of all employers.   It is no longer standard practice for students to have a job before graduating and in fact it’s increasingly likely not to have a firm job offer until after bar passage—at least five months later.

As a result, we have had to change how we prepare students to succeed in the job market.  But we also have to prepare them how to manage their expectations and anxiety as they study for the bar exam without an offer of employment and perhaps need to support themselves afterwards. No small part of this is the pressure they face from well meaning friends and family who are not aware of how fast hiring practices have changed. 

The good news is that the new terrain is manageable and that employers, too, are adapting and finding ways to hire students as clerks without bar results. 

Do We Really Need More Lawyers?

A more serious problem is the dramatic disconnect between individuals in need of legal services and access to any way of paying for them.  By some estimates, over 80% of people in need of a lawyer to represent them in a non-criminal matter, a divorce, a bankruptcy, an eviction, an employment termination, cannot afford one. Without minimizing the crisis in access to health care, it’s important to understand that many of these cases involve a dispute between two parties of significantly different resources.  So that one party, the landlord, the employer, can afford to have its interests represented by a lawyer while the other does not.

I think because we so often hear the phrase on television, “if you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you” we don’t appreciate that this only applies to individuals charged with a crime by the government.  It has no application to any other kind of legal dispute, even ones in which the government is bringing a non-criminal dispute such as taking a way a license to run a restaurant or condemning a piece of property.

UC Law Labor & Employment Expert Professor Sandra Sperino Speaks to National Audience


Professor Sandra Sperino will be presenting the book she is co-authoring with Professor Suja Thomas at the Colloquium on Scholarship in Labor and Employment Law (COSELL) on September 11. COSELL is an annual gathering of labor and employment law scholars from across the country.  The conference is hosted at the University of Indiana (Bloomington) Maurer School of Law.  Professor Sperino's book will be published by Oxford University Press next year. Read more information about COSELL.

 

Prof. Lassiter Quoted in Enquirer Article About Rumpke Landfill


Professor Christo Lassiter provided commentary for the Cincinnati Enquirer article “Rumpke Has Edge in Lawsuit vs. Colerain Twp.” in the August 10, 2015 issue of the newspaper.  Here’s the story.

Prof. Mank Publishes Article in Pittsburgh Law Review


Congratulations to Brad Mank, James B. Helmer  Jr. Professor of Law, whose article, Does United States v. Windsor (the DOMA case) Open the Door to Congressional Standing Rights?, is now in print at 76 University of Pittsburgh Law Review 1-62 (2014).

Prof. Vazquez Teaches Session for Supreme Court Judicial College


Yolanda Vazquez, Association Professor of Law, taught the session "The Intersection between Immigration and the Criminal Justice System" at the Association of Municipal/County Judges of Ohio Summer Conference at Great Wolf Lodge on Tuesday, July 28th. This event was hosted by the Supreme Court of Ohio Judicial College.

Professor Chris Bryant to Speak at Taft National Historic Site Program


A. Christopher Bryant, Rufus King Professor of Constitutional Law at the College, will be the keynote speaker this week at the William Howard Taft National Historic Site Summer Tea Program. Professor Bryant will speak about President Taft (a College of Law graduate!) and his relationship with the law school. The program will be held tomorrow, July 29th , beginning at 1:00 p.m. 

The program is free and open to the public; reservations and additional information can be made by calling 513-684-3262. 

Read more information.

Professor Houh Publishes Article on Contract Law


Emily Houh, Gustavus Henry Wald Professor of the Law and Contracts, has published Sketches of a Redemptive Theory of Contract Law, now in print at 66 Hastings Law Journal 951 (2015).  Learn more about Professor Houh. 

ECDC Director Receives Courier’s 2015 Second Act Award


Lew Goldfarb, director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic,  has been named a winner of the Cincinnati Business Courier’s 2015 Second Act Award. The award recognizes local professionals who have forged new paths after achieving success in their first careers.  The award will be presented on September 22.

Goldfarb, once an entrepreneur himself, is both a business lawyer and a CPA. Before law school he worked as an accountant at Arthur Andersen LLP and Cardinal Foods, Inc. After graduating from law school, he went on to practice law at Baker & Hostetler. Goldfarb transitioned to Honda of America Mfg., Inc., where he was in-house counsel, responsible for the day-to-day administration of Honda’s Legal Department and for legal counsel provided to Honda’s entities throughout the U.S.

He left Honda to operate In-Home Tutoring Services, providing in-home education services to customers throughout Central Ohio. He later began a career as a law professor, teaching in the small business clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School and Wayne State University College of Law. Goldfarb joined the College in 2010 to design, develop, direct and teach the school’ first small business clinic.  During his tenure he has forged partnerships with numerous small business incubators, including the Hamilton County Business Center/First Batch, the Brandery, and MORTAR. 

Read more about the award and the winners: 2015 Second Act Awards

UC Law Partners with urban business accelerator MORTAR


Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic at the College of Law cultivates new partnership while providing students real-world client counseling experience.

Cincinnati, OH—The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) at the University of Cincinnati College of Law has launched a new partnership with MORTAR, providing legal services to startup business owners while providing law students with opportunities to use and enhance their lawyering skills.

“We’re excited to announce that the ECDC has now partnered with MORTAR, one of Cincinnati’s newest business accelerators,” said Lew Goldfarb, Director of the ECDC at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. “Partnerships like these are great for the community. Entrepreneurs and small businesses benefit from critical legal services they may not otherwise be able to afford and students develop their legal skills.”

MORTAR, based in Over-the-Rhine, targets non-traditional entrepreneurs from underserved urban communities and offers them the opportunity to build or expand a business through a nine-week entrepreneurship course.  MORTAR graduated its first class of 15 entrepreneurs this April. This summer, students from UC will work under the supervision of Goldfarb and local practicing attorneys, providing legal services for MORTAR graduates. 

"For many small business owners, being able to afford appropriate legal counsel is a dream - but thanks to UC law we are able to connect MORTAR program participants to the valuable resources and knowledge they need to guide them in the right direction,” said MORTAR co-founder, Allen Woods. “This partnership is an essential component in our mission to remove barriers to entry for nontraditional entrepreneurs, increasing their chances for success." 

Mortar and the ECDC hope to expand the partnership beyond the summer months, offering year-round legal assistance to future students and graduates of Mortar.  Dana Higgins, recent MORTAR graduate and owner of vegan/Jamaican soul food catering start up, JameriSol, has already begun leveraging the partnership.

“As a new business is forming it is important to have legal representation so that once your business is up and running you have operating agreements, intellectual property protection, and a separation of personal and business assets,”  said Higgins. “Having input from soon-to-be lawyers is a priceless opportunity that benefits them and us.”

Since 2010, the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) has provided valuable "hands-on" training to 108 law students, representing 153 local businesses on nearly 700 legal matters - providing nearly $1 million of free legal assistance for the benefit of the local economy.

"In addition to gaining some valuable practical experience, it's important for our students to gain an appreciation for pro bono service,” said Goldfarb.  Undoubtedly, their experience working with MORTAR and some of its companies will help accomplish that."

UC law students participating in the Mortar Summer Fellowship in Entrepreneurship work collaboratively at the College of Law as well as one-on-one with clients at MORTAR’s Vine Street office in Over-the-Rhine.  Law student John Sarra recognizes the impact his work, and that of MORTAR, can have on this rapidly changing neighborhood.

“While the expanding entrepreneurship spirit in the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood and elsewhere is great for the city, not everyone has been able to reap the benefits. This program will assist individuals who otherwise might not have the means to turn their ideas into successful businesses,” said Sarra.

For UC law students, the opportunity to leverage their legal skills to help an individual achieve their goal of starting a business can be a personally rewarding experience as well.

"My mother opened her own business when I was ten years old,” said Cindy Moore. “I saw firsthand the struggles of an entrepreneur - now I get the chance to help make the journey for other entrepreneurs a little less difficult.”

Goldfarb, who taught MORTAR’s first legal class this February with two of his students and volunteers on the nonprofit’s Board of Advisors, acknowledges the partnership as an important part of Cincinnati’s start up eco-system.  

“Cincinnati is quickly becoming an entrepreneurial hotbed,” said Goldfarb.  “The more partnerships we can form to provide resources for entrepreneurs and startups, the better and more vibrant our city will be. That’s good for Cincinnati, and good for our students and graduates.”

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About the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic at the College of Law

The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic partners local law students with small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, representing them on transactional legal issues critical to their success. Client services include assistance and counseling on entity selection and formation, regulatory compliance and licensing, advice on trademark and copyright protection, and lease and contract review, negotiation, and preparation. Through its work, the ECDC hopes to give students a tremendous learning experience and to contribute to the economic development and revitalization of Cincinnati and surrounding communities. 

Prof. Vazquez’s Article Listed Named a Top Ten Download on SSRN


“Constructing Crimmigration: Latino Subordination in a ‘Post-Racial’ World,” the new article by Professor Yolanda Vazquez, has made the top ten list on SSRN (Social Science Research Network). The article was listed in the following networks and categories: 

  • PSN (Political Science Network):  Politics in Ethnicity (Topic)
  • LSN (Legal Scholarship Network):  Legal Ethics (Topic) & Criminology eJournal
  • AARN (Anthropology & Archaeology Research Network):  Migration (Topic), Race & Ethnicity (Topic), North America (Topic), and Race, Ethnicity & Indigenous People (Topic)

The article discusses how immigration law marginalizes Latinos. Read the article abstract: Constructing Crimmigration

It also appeared in the following: