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Transitioning From Product Development to Legal Writing…Meet Michele Bradley ’93

Professor Michele Bradley not only teaches at the College of Law, she is one of its alums.  The daughter of Irish immigrants, Bradley was born in Canada and grew up in a suburb of Detroit.  She attended Wayne State University in Detroit, where she earned a bachelors of science degree in chemical engineering.  She moved Cincinnati to take a position  in product development for Procter & Gamble, primarily focused on creating a new form of Pampers diapers. 

Bradley eventually decided to change direction, however.  “After five years, I wanted a different career,” she said.  Inspired by a younger sister who attended law school, Bradley enrolled in the College of Law as a member of the Class of 1993.  In the spring before she began law school, Bradley got married; she went on to have her first child, a son, during the summer after her first year, a daughter during the summer after she graduated, and another daughter three years after that.

During law school Bradley did a judicial externship with Judge Nathaniel Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  She enjoyed that experience so much that, following graduation from law school, Bradley served as a law clerk for Judge David Nelson in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for one year.  “Judge Nelson made a point of having UC Law grads as his clerks,” explained Bradley; “Nancy Oliver, Dean for Curriculum and Student Affairs, clerked with him  before I did.” Bradley continued, “I learned a lot from Judge Nelson about writing, about how judges make decisions, and about how judges view lawyers and their advocacy skills.”  After her clerkship, Bradley went to work for Frost Brown Todd in Cincinnati.  She focused primarily on environmental law, in the role of both litigator and counselor.  “I represented companies in court,” she explained, “but I also helped counsel them on how to comply with regulations and statutes.”

After three years at Frost, Bradley and her family relocated to Atlanta, Georgia.  While there, she worked with a small general practice law firm in Peachtree City.  “It was a nice change of pace,” she said, “because I got to experience many different kinds of legal practice.    In some cases we served almost as general counsel for small businesses in the area, and we also represented municipalities.”  Bradley also taught legal writing for a year at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta.

Bradley worked for that firm for several years before she and her family returned to Cincinnati five years ago.  It was then that she came across an opportunity to join the faculty at the College of Law.  “I always wanted to teach,” she said, “and I always wanted to teach legal writing, especially after my taste of it in Atlanta  It just happened that this position opened up at the same time that my family and I were returning to Cincinnati.  So I applied for the position, and I got it.”

Bradley says that she really enjoys teaching.  “I love working with 1L students,” she said.  “They’re so earnest, eager, and sincere, and yet they don’t really know a lot about legal writing at the beginning of the year.  It’s amazing to see how far they come in one year’s time, or even one semester.”  Bradley went on to say it is “gratifying to think I helped shepherd them along the way.  They keep me young,” she said, laughing.

In addition to the 1L legal research and writing courses, Bradley also teaches the judicial externship course.  “I enjoy teaching that course as well,” she said, “and I’m always glad to see how many students are taking advantage of the opportunity the externship experience provides.”  She stated that the externship is a great way for students to get to see how practicing attorneys actually do their jobs, and also to see how the courts themselves operate.  “It’s a chance you really can’t get again after you start practicing law,” she said, “so I’m always glad to see students embracing the opportunity.”

Bradley is also involved with helping the legal profession outside the classroom.  She is the law school’s liaison to the Inn of Court, a professional organization where judges and experienced attorneys mentor young attorneys and law students.  She is also on the board of SWEL (Summer Work Experience in Law), a program that exposes minority college students to the practice of law through classes and internships.