Finding opportunity, growth and potential of living in Cincinnati
Betsy Emmert has deep Cincinnati roots and decided to stay here for her undergraduate and law school studies.
To be honest, my decision to stay in Cincinnati was probably predetermined for me. In true Cincinnati fashion, my parents are both from Cincinnati, and so are my grandparents – and their parents. The most exotic place from which my lineage draws back for 150 years is Bethel, Ohio.
I, too, fit the stereotypical mold in that I went to a private, all-girls high school, Skyline flows through my veins, and I say “Please?” instead of “Excuse me?” when I can’t hear what you just said. However, I would be remiss in saying I did not have the option to leave the city – for college and now for law school. I was tempted by scholarship dollars, the thought of warmer weather (or perhaps colder), and the glamour of big cities, yet my decision to begin and sustain my career in Cincinnati has evolved since I sent in my seat deposit for the University of Cincinnati in 2011.
Since high school, I have heard “I want to get out of Cincinnati” more times than John Matarese has told us, “Don’t waste your money,” on Channel 9 News. Some argue it is a “right of passage” to fly the proverbial nest and start an exciting journey at University of XYZ or take a job in Big City, USA. My reasons for staying in Cincinnati were not groundbreaking or earthshattering, and probably were more practical than they were strategic when I first entered the doors of the Lindner College of Business in September 2011. When I was 18, I chose to stay in Cincinnati for college to join the Lindner Honors-PLUS Program at UC, to be near my family, and to save money rather than venture out of state. As I look back on the past five years, I realize that staying in Cincinnati opened more doors and revealed opportunities I could never have imagined possible had I left the Queen City.
Cincinnati falls into that sweet spot. As a big small city, Cincinnati has the benefits of a larger city: sports and cultural attractions, research universities, great restaurants, outstanding parks, and strong business – without the overwhelming traffic, long commutes, high cost of living, or coastal snobbery. Most importantly, Cincinnati is resilient. Despite disappointing Bengals’ performances year after year, violent weather swings, and impossible hills, our city is proud, united and rejuvenating. Ask the “boomerang” Cincinnatians who did their five-year stints in Chicago or New York City. After living in a closet, riding the subway, and suffering from Skyline withdrawal, suddenly, Cincinnati doesn’t sound so bad after all. This is not to say that Cincinnati has it all figured out – far from it actually, but that’s why I want to stay here.
In Cincinnati, I see opportunity, growth, and potential. Behind our share of political and economic issues are leaders, professionals, and businesses united to propel Cincinnati forward. As I have learned through my co-op rotations, internships, and college courses, the necessary ingredient to our city’s future success is strong talent dedicated to the future of our city. Maybe it’s attributable to the German Catholic heritage or to the industrial roots, but nevertheless, Cincinnati welcomes and embraces natives and newcomers alike, to join a thriving community proud of its history and anticipating a bright future.
Mark Twain once said, “[w]hen the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always 20 years behind the times.” Despite whether or not this held entirely true in the context of 1883, Twain’s comment may explain the apparent stigma of staying in Cincinnati ad vitum. However, I am still confident with my decision to stay in Cincinnati ... that is, of course, until I get lost on the West Side and find myself in Indiana.
Editorial published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, May 2016.
26% Increase Returns Cincinnati Law to Historic Enrollment Levels
Cincinnati, OH— It’s official. This fall, first-year enrollment at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, among the top 50 public law schools in the nation, saw a 26% increase over last year.* With a first year class of 126 JD students, not only is this group the biggest class entering the law school since 2010, it is also representative of a six percent increase in applications over the past year.
“I am very pleased to welcome a diverse and highly qualified class to join our law school community. Our students come from 21 different states, 62 different colleges and 41 different majors. In particular, I’m excited about our growing ties with the University of Cincinnati’s study body that has resulted in the enrollment of 25 “Double Bearcats” with two degrees from the University of Cincinnati and three “Triple Bearcats,” says Dean and Nippert Professor of Law Jennifer S. Bard.
In addition to the JD, the LLM Program, a year-long master’s degree program for internationally-trained attorneys and law graduates, continues to grow in size and in the quality and diversity of our students. Now in its fifth year, this year the program has enrolled 18 attorneys from ten different countries including our first ever Fulbright Scholar. Since its inception, 50 attorneys from 23 countries have come to the law school to immerse themselves in the US legal system.
All of this positive enrollment news comes on the heels of recent notable accomplishments at the law school. The college’s Ohio Innocence Project/Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice has just received a $15 million gift from Richard Rosenthal, the largest for the College and any innocence program in the country, which will provide for the program in perpetuity. The University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees recently approved $1 million to fund a concept design for a new building, development of a probable cost for new construction and a relocation study while construction is underway.
“I attribute the increase in enrollment to an increase in awareness of the value of a Cincinnati Law degree,” explains Dean Bard. “This is the third year in a row that we have been recognized as a best value school. Employment outcomes continue to be strong; 80.7% of 2015 graduates obtained full-time, JD-required jobs within 10 months of graduation. Moreover, our students are well prepared by our high quality faculty and our nationally recognized ‘learn by doing’ program.”
Indeed, for three consecutive years Cincinnati Law has been named a top school for practical training. The law school is ranked an A- school for students interested in public interest or criminal law, based on the depth of our curricular offerings. And, “the strength of our program is evident,” says Dean Bard. “Our high quality program reflects the strides we have made over the last several years in academic and career preparation. We are excited that others are also recognizing what is happening at Cincinnati Law.”
* Final enrollment numbers submitted for certification by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and the Law School Admissions Council as of October 5, 2016
The Ohio Innocence Project Honors International Wrongful Conviction Day
Tonight, October 4, 2016, the Duke Energy Building will be lit in the colors yellow and white in honor of International Wrongful Conviction Day.
Cincinnati, OH—The Ohio Innocence Project/Rosenthal Institute for Justice at the University of Cincinnati College of Law is celebrating International Wrongful Conviction Day by lighting up the city’s Duke Energy Building this evening in yellow and white—the colors symbolic of the wrongful conviction movement.
In addition to the lighting event, OIP-u chapters throughout the state have hosted activities over the last few weeks to commemorate the day. Events included:
- The John Carroll University chapter welcomed members of the Exoneree Band, a touring group of former prisoners-turned musicians, to participate in a panel discussion about wrongful conviction. Participants included Raymond Towler, an OIP exoneree, as well as exonerees from across the country.
- The University of Day chapter led a discussion by Dr. Melissa Berry about the causes of wrongful conviction, incorporating examples from the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” and the personal experiences of Ohio’s exonerees.
- The Ohio State University chapter hosted an information table to promote awareness among students about wrongful conviction and the OIP.
- And, the University of Cincinnati chapter assisted with the inaugural Bearcat Dash & Bash event.
OIP-u is a college network of innocence advocates that provides an avenue for Ohio undergraduate and graduate students to get more involved in the fight for freedom of wrongfully incarcerated people. Launched just last year, six OIP-u chapters have been created: John Carroll University, Ohio University, University of Dayton, the Ohio State University, Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati.
Today’s celebration and event comes on the heels of the successful inaugural Bearcat Dash & Bash, the OIP’s walk/run event to raise awareness and funds for the organization and for the university’s Athletics Department. The event, held Sunday, October 2, involved more than 1800 participants—with nearly 1400 in the 5K walk and nearly 500 in the 18.19K run. The 5K walk, which also included nine exonerees walking in the Freedom Walk, took participants through the university’s award-winning campus. The 18.19K run, which represents the average time that the OIP’s 24 clients spent in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, as well as the year of the University of Cincinnati’s founding, took participants through campus and the historic Clifton community.
International Wrongful Conviction Day recognizes the personal, social and legal costs associated with wrongful conviction. Launched by Win Wahren of the Association in Defense of the Wrongfully Convicted and a small group of like-minded individuals, the day is dedicated to recognizing those whose lives have been adversely impacted by wrongful conviction as well as educating the broader community on its causes, consequences and complications. Recognizing that wrongful convictions are not limited to one jurisdiction or nation, the group sought to unite individuals and organizations around the world in the effort to eradicate wrongful convictions.
Record-Breaking $15M Gift to Benefit the Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law
Richard Rosenthal’s $15M Gift is the Largest for the College and Any Innocence Program
Man Regains Freedom After 23 Years Thanks to OIP
In February 1981, the Parsons family suffered a tragic loss. Barbara Parsons, the 41-year-old wife of Jim Parsons, was found dead inside her bedroom, having been beaten 15 times in the head by someone using a large, heavy object. No suspect was found at first. Then, 12 years later, Jim Parsons was arrested for the murder. Parsons was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. After 23 years incarcerated, however, his conviction was overturned thanks to the Ohio Innocence Program (OIP).
"The Ohio Innocence Project plays an important role in the legal education of all of our students. Not only do the students who directly represent the clients with Professor Mark Godsey and the staff attorneys learn valuable litigation skills, all of our students benefit from its commitment to justice and the rule of law that are at the heart of the U.S. Legal system,” says Cincinnati Law’s Dean Jennifer S. Bard, Nippert Professor of Law.
Parsons was recently released and is now living with family. His story, however, is a frightening one.
An Unfair Advantage
Immediately after Barbara Parsons’ murder, an investigation began. A just hour after the body was found at their Norwalk, OH home, Jim Parsons was with the police; he showed no signs of a struggle and his alibi was solid. The case went cold after it became obvious that he was not the criminal.
Years later, a new detective was assigned to the case and sent the suspected murder weapon and bed sheets to forensic scientist Michele Yezzo, who worked on the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, asking her to look for any matching patterns of blood.
While running these tests, Yezzo failed to fully document her procedures. She used a chemical on the sheets which she claimed makes blood stains easier to see. However, it fades after several hours and she neglected to photograph each piece of evidence. Yezzo said she found matching patterns between the weapon and the sheets, but due to lack of documentation, she is the only one who ever saw it.
Even so, the court ruled against Parsons. He was found guilty and was sent to jail.
What the defense did not know at the time was that the State was withholding information. Around the same time that she was testifying, Yezzo was under severe job pressure. A few months prior to her testimony against Mr. Parsons, she was suspended from work for making threats against co-workers. She also displayed other signs that called her mental stability into question.
“About three years before she testified against Parsons,” said Parsons’ OIP attorney Donald Caster, ’03, “there was a memo that was written by her supervisor that said the consensus in the lab is that her mental health issues are affecting her work in the lab and that she would stretch the truth to satisfy a law enforcement agency.”
When Caster found that information, he placed a call to Dr. Scott Bresler, Clinical Director of Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Bresler, who routinely conducts fitness-for-duty evaluations, evaluated Yezzo’s likely mental state at the time of the trial and through this determined her ability to work should have been called into question long before the Parsons trial.
The law requires that the State must turn over everything that could help a defendant before trial. Withholding this information about Yezzo was breaking the law, resulting in an unfair trial. Twenty-three years later, Jim Parsons finally got the hearing he deserved.
“Our star witness, whose subjective judgements are entirely what the case is about, is perhaps mentally unstable. And not only that, when we brought her in and she testified at the hearing in the Parsons’ case, she agreed that every day she was coming in thinking that she was going to be disciplined for her erratic conduct,” Caster said. “So what better way for a forensic scientist to help save their job than to solve a cold murder case?”
Alex Barengo, ’17, an OIP Fellow who worked on the case, seconded this reasoning. He stated that the prosecution was “riddled with reasonable doubts” due to the late arrest of Mr. Parsons and Yezzo’s precarious position with her employer.
Fighting for Freedom
OIP investigations can take years to complete, and often the fellows working on the cases pass them down to others. In fact, Parsons’ case spanned ten years, 21 law students, and predated Caster’s time with the OIP.
Former OIP Fellow Jackie Welp, ’16, said this was the most frustrating aspect. “He is and was very sick and growing older as the process continued,” she said, recalling how slow the procedure sometimes moved. “It was very challenging to stay upbeat when it seemed like the testing would never be done.”
Barengo gave credit to the previous fellows, saying that the investigation of the case was already completed and he and his partner, Miranda Anandappa, ’17, had the responsibility of making sure everything was in place so nothing would go wrong in court.
After all the information was gathered, Caster filed for post-conviction relief and a new trial motion, telling the judge that Mr. Parsons was actually innocent and his trial was made unfair by the withholding of evidence by the state of Ohio.
The hearing, which lasted about a day, included testimony from witnesses, scientists, one of Mr. Parsons’ daughters, and several people from the State. A week later, Caster learned that the judge had ruled to overturn the verdict.
“The most rewarding part came a few weeks after the hearing up in Huron County,” Barengo expressed. “One of Mr. Parsons’ daughters sent us a picture of him at home with his family.”
Author: Michelle Flanagan ’18, Communication Intern
OIP Receives Spirit of America Award
Congratulations to the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP), honored with the Donald and Marian Spencer Spirit of America Award on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. The award, which was presented by the Cincinnatus Association, recognizes the OIP’s contributions to creating greater inclusion and prompting diversity in the community.
The OIP was honored for its work in freeing more innocent people than any other state-based innocence organization in the country, as well as its work in drafting and helping to pass groundbreaking reform legislation to decrease the chance that innocence Ohioans will be wrongfully convicted in the future.
The Spirit of America award was named for Donald and Marian Spencer, called the “first couple of civil rights in Cincinnati.” Donald Spencer, who died several years ago, was the first African American to serve on the Cincinnati Park Board, the first African American broker on the Cincinnati Board of Realtors, and the first African American trustee of Ohio University. Marian Spencer integrated Coney Island many years ago, was the first African American president of the Woman’s City Club, and was the first African American woman to serve on Cincinnati City Council.
US News Ranking Positions Cincinnati Law Within Top 50 Public Law Schools in the Nation
Cincinnati Law’s significant increase in employment and high bar passage earns results in its ranking among the top 50 public law schools by U.S. News & World Report.
Cincinnati, OH —The U.S. News & World Report has ranked Cincinnati Law #60 in the nation, up 22 places from last year.
Jennifer S. Bard, Dean and Nippert Professor of Law, remarked “We are very pleased by all the external recognition we received this year for producing meaningful outcomes. This includes specific programs such as our clinics, centers and other community collaborations. The U.S. News & World Report ranking reflects our high employment and bar passage rates as well as increased score in peer assessment. It is well deserved and due to the hard work of our faculty, staff, students and alumni.”
Mina Jones Jefferson, Senior Assistant Dean and Director of the Center for Professional Development, elaborated on last year’s 13 percent increase in employment. “For the Class of 2014, 88 percent found employment within 10 months of graduation, a placement above both state and national averages and we are on target to do just as well with the Class of 2015.”
Dean Bard further stated “These outcomes, combined with the high quality legal education our faculty and staff offers students, the strength of our first class research university, and the success and commitment of our wonderful alumni explain why Cincinnati Law is consistently recognized as an ‘A’ level ‘Best Value’ law school.”
The U.S. News ranking follows recent recognition by several similar publications that have assessed the strong Cincinnati Law program:
- 3rd in the Nation for Prosecutor and Public Defender Careers. (preLaw magazine, Winter edition)
- Among the Top 20 Schools for Law Students Interested in Prosecutorial/Public Defender Work. (National Jurist magazine)
- Top 30 School for Super Lawyers. The college, which came in at 28* in the nation, had 13.1 percent of its alumni being considered a Super Lawyer. (*The National Jurist Fall 2015 edition).
- 40th in the Nation and 10th in the Midwest for JD-Required Positions. (ChicagoINNO)
- Among the top 50 Law Schools in the Country for Sending Graduates to the top 250 Law Firms. (National Law Journal)
- Top School for Practical Training. Named to the 2016 honor roll for “Best School for Practical Training” (National Jurist magazine). Ranked a top law school for practical training (National Jurist magazine, 2015 and 2014)
- Best Value Law School Ranking. Named a Best Value Law School for the third year and second consecutive year, respectively. (National Jurist and preLaw magazines)
Dinsmore & Shohl LLP elects alumni Thomas M. Connor, Kristin Leinhart and Michael Proctor as partners
CINCINNATI (January 6, 2016) – Dinsmore & Shohl LLP is pleased to announce five Cincinnati attorneys have been named Partner. April L. Besl, Thomas M. Connor, Allison H. Kropp, Kristin M. Lenhart and Faith C. Whittaker were elected to partnership effective January 1, 2016. Fourteen attorneys across the firm have been promoted to Partner this year.
“I am proud to welcome the newest attorneys elected to partnership. They share a passion for the practice of law and a commitment to serving our clients that we value at Dinsmore,” said George H. Vincent, Managing Partner & Chairman. “It has been a pleasure to see them advance in our profession and achieve this accomplishment.”
Thomas M. Connor- Cincinnati, OH
A partner in the Litigation Department, Tom is an experienced litigator, having handled trials, mediations, negotiations, and client counseling in a wide variety of matters. These include product liability and mass tort litigation, toxic tort matters, natural resources and land use disputes, intellectual property litigation, software and information-technology related litigation, contract matters, as well as defense of health care providers and hospitals. Tom has extensive experience practicing in both state and federal courts throughout much of the Midwest, including experience in complex and multi-district litigation.
For nearly a decade prior to his law career, Tom worked in a series of information technology leadership roles at one of the world’s largest and most diverse technology and manufacturing corporations. He worked with business partners to design, develop and implement a wide variety of complex technology and business process reengineering solutions to address business challenges and opportunities. As an attorney, he has leveraged this background to better understand the operations and legal needs of his business clients. Tom also has worked with technical personnel leading sophisticated large-scale e-Discovery efforts involving traditional business documents as well as non-traditional e-Discovery involving structured enterprise systems data, CRM systems, and CAD engineering drawings. p>In the course of his litigation work, Tom has developed a thorough understanding of the Medicare Secondary Payer statute and has advised clients on all aspects of litigating and settling cases that may give rise to Medicare reimbursement or reporting obligations. He is a member of the firm’s Information Systems and e-Discovery committees. He earned his J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
Kristin M. Lenhart- Cincinnati, OH
A member of the Corporate Department, Kristin represents a variety of individuals in estate planning and probate and trust administration matters. Focusing largely on the planning side, Kristin leverages a practical, real-world approach to helping clients minimize the complications associated with the transfer of wealth. Understanding that estate planning sometimes involves an emotional component and complex family dynamics, Kristin tailors her approach to each client, quickly discerning their goals and laying out a strategy to help them get there. By building relationships with clients, Kristin is also able to advise them on other matters, including general business needs, business and LLC formation and implementing business succession plans.
Building on her past experience with a large accounting firm, Kristin also advises closely-held businesses, charitable organizations and family foundations on a variety of tax and business matters.
Beyond her practice, Kristin enjoys writing and in 2012 co-authored a children’s book called “The Notre Dame Spirit,” which highlights the picturesque and legendary South Bend campus through the eyes of a first-time visitor. She earned her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
Michael R. Proctor- Morgantown, WV
A member of the Litigation Department, Michael handles business disputes throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Mike also has extensive bankruptcy experience, representing creditors in all phases of bankruptcy, including claim litigation, nondischargeability actions and preferential transfers.
Overall, Mike’s litigation experience is wide-ranging and includes UCC Article 9 litigation, litigation under the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, deliberate intent and employment litigation, contractual disputes and oil and gas production disputes. Some specific examples of Mike’s experience include: administration of class action funds on behalf of a local governmental entity, immunity of governmental entities in performing administrative duties, litigation of the co-extensive jurisdiction of the bankruptcy courts and district courts, and providing advice to common carriers regarding Federal Transit Administration procurement regulations. He earned his J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
About Dinsmore & Shohl
Dinsmore & Shohl is comprised of 625 attorneys with locations in 21 cities throughout California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia. For more than a century, Dinsmore has provided a broad range of integrated services to meet the needs of both large and small businesses as well as institutions, associations, governments, professional firms and individuals. For more information, please visit www.dinsmore.com.
Tarik Haskins '03 Named Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
Wilmington, DE (August 26, 2015) – Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP partner Tarik J. Haskins has been named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. An honorary organization of attorneys, judges, law faculty, and legal scholars, the Fellows demonstrate outstanding achievements and dedication to the welfare of their communities and to the highest principles of the legal profession.
Established in 1955 to support the research of the American Bar Foundation, membership is limited to less than one percent of lawyers licensed to practice in each jurisdiction. Members are nominated by Fellows in their jurisdiction and elected by the Board of the American Bar Foundation.
As a member of the Morris Nichols Commercial Law Counseling Group, Tarik’s practice covers a range of commercial transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, secured financings, joint ventures, and business counseling.
He serves on the Morris Nichols Executive Committee and chairs the firm’s Diversity Committee. A leader in the local community, Tarik was appointed by Governor Markell as a member of the Delaware Council on Development Finance and serves as a director of the Prestige Academy. He also serves on many committees of the American Bar Association and the Delaware State Bar Association.
About The American Bar Foundation
The American Bar Foundation’s mission is to serve the legal profession, the public, and the academy through empirical research, publications, and programs that advance justice and the understanding of law and its impact on society. Primary funding for the ABF is provided by the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation and the American Bar Endowment. Learn more at www.americanbarfoundation.org.
About Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP
Morris Nichols combines a broad national practice of corporate, intellectual property, business reorganization and restructuring, commercial law and litigation with a general business, tax, estate planning and real estate practice within the State of Delaware. The firm is regularly involved as lead counsel or co-counsel in matters of national and international significance, as well as those affecting its immediate community.
Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP hires Maria Moyer '12
Maria K. Moyer has joined Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP as an Associate attorney. Maria will be working primarily in the Estate Planning and Administration group. Most recently, Maria was an associate practicing in estate and trust planning and administration with Vorys Sater, Seymour and Pease. Previously, she practiced in that area with the law firm of Ritter and Randolph.
Maria is a 2012 graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she earned her J.D., and a 2009 graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Business, where she earned her BA of Business Administration in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Visit our website for more information about Maria
Graydon Head attorneys serve clients in a variety of industries with particular experience working with clients in: banking and financial services; commercial real estate; media, communications and information; construction; health, education and human services; and manufacturing. The Firm’s personal planning group provides legal counsel to many local business owners and their executives and families in the estate planning and administration area. With offices Downtown on Fountain Square, in Northern Kentucky at the Chamber Center, and in the Butler/Warren area at University Pointe, the Firm provides convenient accessibility to clients in key areas of the growing Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region.