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Law Review Meant Opportunity to Learn and Contribute to Legal Scholarship for James Tate '09

It has been less than three years since James Tate ’09 took a position at Helmer, Martins, Rice & Popham, but his experience thus far at the seven-lawyer firm has been “incredible.”

“I couldn’t ask for more diverse and challenging work, and have had endless opportunities to take on new tasks and develop new skills,” Tate said. “Your first year or two as a lawyer is daunting, and most of us don’t really know what we are doing. Being at a small firm with talented and experienced lawyers gives me the opportunity for structured growth and mentoring whenever I need it.”

Tate said the firm’s main focus is “qui tam litigation under the False Claims Act,” while they also do an array of litigation and appellate work. In his time at Helmer, Martins, Rice & Popham, Tate has taken and participated in many depositions; briefed summary judgment multiple times; and written motions in limine, jury instructions, pretrial orders and discovery. He also traveled throughout the United States for a False Claims Act case – one he worked on for two years right out of law school – involving “bid rigging at a Navy supercomputer center in Mississippi.”

Like countless attorneys working in downtown Cincinnati, Tate received his legal education up the hill at the College of Law. It was there that he founded the College’s ACLU student chapter and also participated in Law Review. “I applied for Law Review because you had to apply to get on Law Review, and I wanted to see if I could,” said Tate, who was born in Louisville but moved to Cincinnati at age six. “I chose to be on Law Review because I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn and make a real contribution to legal scholarship.”

As a 2L associate editor, Tate found the writing to be challenging, but he also learned a lot, he said. He credited the 3L editors for helping “sharpen” his writing, and he ultimately had a comment published: “Eliminating the Nexus Obstacle to the Prosecution of International Drug Traffickers on the High Seas.”

“I grew a lot as a 2L and valued the Law Review as an institution,” he said. “The Law Review is an unparalleled opportunity for students to read, write, think and participate in legal debate. I wanted to help sustain and grow one of the prized assets of UC Law.”

And Tate did just that, becoming the Law Review’s editor-in-chief in 2008-09. His work on the Law Review not only earned him a prestigious award, but he eventually landed a job with the namesake of that accolade.

Tate and publications editor Kelley Brandstetter were 2009 recipients of the James B. Helmer, Jr. University of Cincinnati Law Review Prize. Based on Helmer’s continued involvement with the College of Law and the Law Review since graduating in 1975, he and Tate met a few times as a result. “He was looking for another lawyer, and I was looking for interesting work,” Tate said. “It was a good fit.”

Coming to the College of Law was also a good fit for Tate, who earned a bachelor of philosophy degree from Miami University in 2004. Between 2004 and enrolling in law school in 2006, Tate was a counselor, followed by a file clerk at Manley Burke.

Today, Tate is not only a busy attorney, but his family keeps him busy as well. “I have a two year old daughter (Julia), so I answer lots of questions, dig in the mud, sword fight, go to the zoo and museum, play with stickers and stuffed animals, have tea parties, and wrestle,” said Tate, who added that he and his wife are expecting another child this spring.  The Mt. Washington resident also enjoys canoeing, fishing and bike riding. “I am very happy with the work I am doing right now, and with my present and future opportunities for growth,” he said. “When I’m not at work, I try to live simply, take time off, and enjoy my family.”

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13