Walia’s Life Experiences Lead to Career in Social Justice
Second year law student Priya Walia ’16 finds strength and satisfaction working with those from disadvantaged communities. Originally from the mountain state, she grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia, and stayed there to attend West Virginia University. There she studied philosophy and political science, and further involved herself in the world of social justice thorough her work at a nonprofit organization West Virginia Women Work.
West Virginia Women Work primarily focuses on assisting women to explore, train for, and secure employment opportunities with a focus on the skilled trades. Walia spent four years there, doing the gamut of assignments including putting on construction training classes twice a year in different locations across the state. She started as a receptionist and eventually became an office manager, taking on a lot of additional responsibilities. “I really liked serving that community,” she shared, “and I knew that when I came to law school that I wanted to do similar work and stay in the realm of nonprofits.”
Now, Walia works in the College of Law’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice as a Program Assistant. In this position, she does a bit of everything to help the Center and its programs run smoothly, including attending meetings, developing and planning events, and assisting with program implementation.
The Appeal of Cincinnati, OJPC, and Social Justice
When deciding on law schools, Cincinnati appealed to Walia for several reasons: the urban environment, the size of the city, the friendliness of the law school community, and the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice. And Cincinnati has treated her exceptionally, as she expressed her interest in remaining in the Queen City after law school. This past summer Walia worked at the Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC) downtown. This summer job fit perfectly with her desire to work with nonprofits, and she was able to work with disadvantaged communities here in Cincinnati. OJPC’s stated mission is “to create fair, intelligent, redemptive criminal-justice systems through zealous client-centered advocacy, innovative policy reform, and cross-sector community education.” Walia contributed with her research and blog writing regarding Ohio’s record sealing practices and her work with the Second Chance Project whereby former offenders receive assistance with re-entering the community after release from prison.
While she acknowledged that burnout is a common fear of people considering a career working in disadvantaged communities, she found encouragement from her experience at OJPC. “Once I was able to see people in the field, doing great work, and not getting burnt out, it was inspiring to me.” Now, she finds the work to be a way of recharging.
“There is an intimidation factor in coming to law school,” she shared. “Be prepared to guard your goals. You may have to look a good salary in the eye and turn it down, but if you stick to your guns you will find the work you do to be rewarding.”
Fellows Sherry Porter and Andrea Brown Discuss the Role of Social Justice
Fellows Sherry Porter and Andrea Brown Discuss the Role of Social Justice
Center for Race Gender, and Social Justice Fellows Sherry Porter and Andrea Brown shared their thoughts about the legal field, social justice, and how they hope to make an impact in the field.
Porter, from a small town in southern Indiana, attended Indiana University Southeast, receiving a B.A. in psychology. Prior to UC Law she worked as a probation officer for almost a decade. In her role as a fellow she supports the Center by helping with panel discussions, editing the Freedom Center Journal, and conducting social justice research. “My research interest on pregnant women in the U.S. prison system will fit well within the Center's mission as I strive to be an activist and advocate for the rights of prisoners and institutional change,” said Porter.
Brown, from Hamilton, OH, is a graduate of the University of Chicago. There, she received a B.A. in English literature, minoring in gender studies. She worked for Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, both organizing communities around labor issues and managing the data collected. “In addition to taking courses, I will be able to participate in a Center sponsored research project,” said Brown. “I’ll also be helping out with the Center’s events, including the upcoming screening of Private Violence.
What drove your interest in the legal field?
Porter: I became interested in the legal field many years ago working as a corrections officer at a juvenile detention center. This is how I transitioned into working in probation. After spending many years working in the criminal justice system, law school seemed like the next logical step in my career. I received a master's degree with a focus on gender studies in 2012. This led me to UC Law and the dual degree program with the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department. My thesis will focus on incarcerated mothers in the U.S. prison system.
Brown: I see law as the practical tool that, when combined with passion, can be a vehicle for social change.
Why are you interested in social justice?
Porter: I am interested in social justice feminism because I am passionate about making a difference in the lives of the disadvantaged. I am currently a volunteer advocate at Women Helping Women in downtown Cincinnati. This organization is designed to encourage and support survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault.
Brown: I’ve always had a drive to work to enact change that will make our society more righteous and ethical. Seeing ‘up close’ the injustices the communities that I organized faced only solidified my desire to do work in this field.
What do you plan to do with your degree?
Porter: I hope to spend a long career in the law working to make positive changes in our legal system concerning female offenders, particularly incarcerated mothers.
Brown: I plan to continue my work in the labor field, whether that be in a private firm that works on employment issues, an agency like the National Labor Relations Board or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or directly with a labor union.
New Collaboration Proves to be a Great Experience for Law Fellows
This summer, four third-year College of Law students, working closely with local entrepreneurs in a range of industries, put their growing legal skills and acumen to the test. Under a new collaboration between the College’s Entrepreneurship and Development Clinic, the Hamilton County Business Center, and the First Batch Business Accelerator, students got “live client” experience tackling real, tangible legal issues for the entrepreneurs. The first legal fellows to work as part of this partnership, the students received a “taste” of what their professional lives will be like very soon as lawyers.
“This was an incredible opportunity for these students,” said Professor Lew Goldfarb, Director of the College’s Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) and one of the supervising attorneys.
A Seat In the Middle of the Action
“When we first arrived at the Hamilton County Business Center (HCBC) and First Batch, we saw our clients in action,” explained Matt Dubin ’15 , one of the four legal fellows. “They were developing formulas and constructing products, but took the time to talk with us about their needs.”
The students, working in teams of two, completed a range of business assignments. Their work included selection and formation of business entities, preparation of agreements among business owners, and preparation of agreements with vendors, customers, and consultants. They also provided advice on intellectual property issues and business-specific regulatory issues. In total, nine companies were counseled this summer.
“Being able to leverage the skills and experience of the clinic was great,” said Pat Longo, Director of the HCBC. “Our clients benefitted greatly from the high energy, knowledgeable and personable law students who performed many assignments concerning legal issues and early stage businesses,” he said. “They are definitely better off due to the relationship and effort of the UC Law Clinic team!”
The HCBC, located in Norwood, OH, provides a full service business incubation program to local start-ups, including office space, training, mentorship, access to capital, and other valuable resources.
The experience at First Batch was similarly successful. “Each of our companies benefitted tremendously in having guidance on issues that they would usually resolve alone and without a full understanding of the surrounding laws,” said Matt Anthony, Co-Founder of First Batch. “I think the UC legal teams not only instilled more confidence in our companies’ operations, but also educated us on a lawyer’s value in helping young businesses.”
“We felt like privileged clients of a good team. This partnership was another great way that UC is both making an impact and engaging students with the larger social and professional world in Cincinnati.”
First Batch, located in the heart of Over-The-Rhine, selects manufacturing startups to participate in its four-month accelerator program. They provide work space and equipment, capital, valuable manufacturing connections, entrepreneurial training and – as of this summer — legal counsel.
Now, About That Office Space
The four legal fellows worked in the same space as the HCBC startups, but also travelled to meet clients at First Batch’s facility. This proved to be invaluable. “Being so close to our clients gave our work a more ‘personal’ feeling as we saw directly how our efforts benefited these local companies,” said Lauren VanHook ‘15, another legal fellow. “We were motivated to provide the best assistance to these local businesses as we addressed their needs.”
The internship program is made possible under the guidance of Professor Goldfarb, the HCBC and First Batch. “I am grateful to the leadership teams at HCBC and First Batch and to the local lawyers who volunteered their time to help me supervise the program,” said Professor Goldfarb. “Through collaborations like these, we can make a real difference in the education of our students and the economy of our region.”
The legal fellows felt the experience was invaluable too. “Law school teaches students how to spot legal issues, but interacting with clients, discerning their legal needs, and delivering a useful work product to real people is something that cannot be replicated in a classroom,” explained Nicholas Ehlert ‘15. “We were fortunate enough to have great clients working in a wide variety of industries, each with different legal issues.”
Looking to the Future
The summer program will be held again next summer, with the possibility of expanding it to a year-round program in the future. “This internship was an all-around great experience,” said Julie Payne ‘15. “The skills we learned and relationships we made this summer will carry us through our final year in law school and into our careers as practicing attorneys.”
Authors: Lauren VanHook'15 and Sherry Y. English, Director of Communications
Katie Cornelius '16 Shares Why She Likes Cincinnati
There is always something great to do in Cincinnati. I love the unique culture and atmosphere of the city. There are great museums and historic areas intertwined with new restaurants, shops, and sporting events.
Katie is pictured in front of Cincinnati’s historic Music Hall.
Get to Know Remington Jackson ‘15
Why do you want to become a lawyer? Why the interest in law?
From an early age, my father conditioned my desire to become an attorney, even going as far as contemplating adding the title “Esq.” to my name before I even attended Kindergarten! He expounded upon the prestige associated with being an attorney, especially as a minority, and that it would be more than a job but a career. He impressed upon me that the heart of the legal profession is one of public service—promoting the rule of law and pursuing the common good. He also mentioned the potential financial stability it could provide and the ability to make use of a J.D. in many areas, even if I didn’t end up practicing law.
To find out just how much of this was true, I spent my summers throughout high school and college working at various legal entities such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Allegheny County Law Department to get as much experience as possible at my “predetermined” life career. For my senior thesis at the College of Wooster, I focused on the arguments in favor and against the practice of the death penalty with the paper “The Necessary Criteria to Save a Dying Practice: An Attempt to Morally Justify Capital Punishment”.
Throughout these opportunities, I found that the satisfaction I experienced from trying to understand and debate complicated issues through my speech and writings intersect well with the legal profession. Most importantly, I feel that being an attorney—an act of serving and service to others—is, as Muhammad Ali put it, the rent we pay for our room here on earth. These experiences have all played a role in fueling my aspiration to become an attorney. In the end my father was right all along!
What area(s) of law are you interested in?
Currently I am getting experience with corporate law areas like securities fraud litigation, protecting shareholder rights, and corporate governance issues. I am interested in labor and employment law, tax law, and I am open to learn from new arenas and challenges.
At my time with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office I had the opportunity to work with the Worker’s Compensation department and found that it was never a dull day. Sitting in on the settlement conferences to see the negotiation and cordial but zealous advocacy between the representatives for the employer and employee was intriguing. I found that the area involved complex relationships between people in the workplace and consequently had a very human component to it. You get a sense of who the individual is and their contribution to society.
What types of professional experiences have you had that will help you on your path to becoming an attorney?
During my 1L summer I worked as a summer associate with the Ohio Attorney General's Cincinnati Office and as a teacher with the Ohio Law and Leadership Institute. With LLI I taught youth from traditionally underserved communities about leadership, writing, self-expression, test taking, and study tactics while providing a basic understanding of the study and practice of law. During my 2L year, I worked as a legal extern for the General Counsel's Office for the University of Cincinnati.
I am currently the President of the College of Law’s chapter of Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and the Vice-Chair of the Midwest Region of the National Black Law Students Association (MWBLSA). I also serve as the Reprint Editor on the Immigration & Nationality Law Review and a Senior Article Editor for the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights’ Human Rights Quarterly. In the Fall I will be serving as a judicial extern to the Hon. Jeffery P. Hopkins, United States Bankruptcy Court – Southern District of Ohio and as a representative for the University in the Potter Stewart American Inn of Court. Finally, I am a student representative for Kaplan Test Prep.
A few final thoughts on career (and personal) preparation…
People hire people. No matter how great your grades or who you know, if you are a jerk or people just do not want to work with you, you are shooting yourself in the foot before you can even get it in the door. Be yourself, speak about your interests without reverting back to cookie cutter responses, and let your personality prove why you got to your current place in life. Never fear rejection but rather savor the opportunity to learn something from each experience you are given because each setback is only a setup for your next success.
Take full advantage of legal and judicial externships. While they do not pay, what they provide in terms of hands on experience and connections is priceless. There are few other opportunities available where you can get so much feedback without worrying about a grade or curve and get the kinks out while learning the right way to do your work.
Chase your passion, whatever it may be, and the money will follow rather than chasing after money and hoping the passion will come along. There are too many different paths to follow to happiness to end up hating the place you spend 8-10 hours of your day. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint, so go the extra mile to have coffee and lunch with those already doing the work that you are interested in to hear the good and the bad. Professionals are more than willing to "pay it forward" in remembrance of those that did it for them. Do not be discouraged if you do get a "No" reponse. There are 100 "Yes" responses out there just waiting for you to ask.
Dig your well before you are thirsty. That is something my closest mentor has always preached to me: network constantly so that I can reach out to a wealth of resources long before I need help with a reference or position. Not being from Cincinnati and not being in the top 20% of my class, any time not spent on studying and working goes towards networking and building relationships to ensure that I am never just a name on a piece of paper for any position I apply. Hard work will always prove your mettle, and while you will almost certainly experience setbacks throughout law school, never let an exam result decide your fate.
You've Been Served: Summons for a Civil Service Action
UC College of Law: Day of Service 2014
SUMMONS FOR A CIVIL SERVICE ACTION
To: Members of the Cincinnati Community
A Civil Service Action has been requested of you.
On September 6, 2014, if you are a local practitioner of law in the Cincinnati Area, a UC College of Law Student, Faculty, or Alumni, or a past or present resident of Cincinnati as described in the grand folklore of the Tri-State area — you must serve at the University of Cincinnati College of Law Day of Service 2014!
UC College of Law Requests that you personally serve out this SUMMONS FOR SERVICE on SEPTEMBER 6, 2014 at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. You must register for a site by on or after Wednesday, August 13, 2014. [Register Here].
Time of Appearance - 8:30am
- Coffee and Bagels, T-shirts, Meet other Volunteers, Assemble into Site Groups
- Service Speaker at 9:15am
- Travel to Sites following Speaker
Service Site Report Time - 10:00am
Service Site Completion Time - 2:00pm
- Leave Service Site
Day of Service Cocktail Hour and Cookout - 3:00pm
- Return to Bleglen Lawn for Refreshments
About “You’ve Been Served!” UC Law’s Annual Day of Service
This year's Day of Service is scheduled for Saturday, September 6, 2014 (09/06/2014). It is an annual event in which UC Law's students, faculty, and alumni participate in community service engagements all over Cincinnati I personally would like to encourage you to save the date, get your hands dirty, and participate in the civil service that makes this day so unique and rewarding.
Volunteers will sign up to participate in the Day of Service and will select the site at which they want to work. Then, after the service is over, everyone will come back together for a party celebration on Bleglen Lawn outside the Law School! All participants will receive a free lunch, a free t-shirt and can join in the party festivities!
The Day of Service is an awesome experience that sets the tone for our year at UC Law. The civil service that we engage in on that day has great benefits to the community and is rewarding for those who participate. It is also the first opportunity for incoming students to come to an event, interact with faculty, staff, alumni, and other students, and learn that there is much more to law school than classes and grades. We truly are a large, fragmented family, and it is incredibly important to include faculty and local practitioners in this event in order to coalesce our Cincinnati Legal Community.
We would also like to invite you to provide assistance by helping to Sponsor this event with monetary or breakfast/lunch donations.
If you are interested in participating and/or becoming a Sponsor of the UC Law Day of Service 2014, please respond to this REQUEST OF SERVICE. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you soon!
American Cancer Society, Hope Lodge: Placing covers on Box Springs in Guest Rooms, Servicing Kitchen and Great Room for use, and other activities for upkeep of Hope Lodge.
- 2806 Reading Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45206
Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields: Assisting Special Needs Children play a Baseball game.
- 4850 Groh Lane, Fairfield, Ohio 45014; 9:30am – 11:30am
SPCA Cincinnati: Cleaning oriented projects such as washing cat and dog dishes, folding blankets and towel, cleaning windows, etc.
- 11900 Conrey Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45249; 10:00am – 2:00pm
Imago Earth Center: Preparing for a major fundraiser, setting up tents, carrying tables, outdoor work on our grounds.
- 700 Enright Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45205; 10:00am – 2:00pm
Freestore Foodbank: Harvesting Produce at the Giving Fields.
- The Giving Fields, 101 Anderson Avenue, Melbourne, KY 41059; 10:00am – 1:00pm
Drama Kinetics: Cleaning, organizing and painting a drama classroom.
- 4222 Hamilton Ave Cincinnati, OH 45223; 10:00am – 2:00pm
Keep Cincinnati Beautiful: Finish painting the exterior chain link fence that runs along Colerain Avenue, Trim junipers and pull vine from fence, Pick up litter around exterior of cemetery, Cut back overgrown honeysuckle invading the sidewalk on Colerain, If possible stain the wooden Wesleyan Cemetery sign.
- Wesleyan Cemetery, 4003 Colerain Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45223; 10:00am – 2:00pm
Talbert House: Painting 1st Floor
- Parkway Center - 2880 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45225; 10:00am – 2:00pm
Women's Crisis Center Covington: Move desk/file cabinet from third floor to second floor, Pack up items to be removed from storage, Reorganize items left to fit in smaller space, Consolidate Pet Protection program items.
- 835 Madison Ave, Covington, KY 41011; 10:00am – 2:00pm
Habitat for Humanity: Demolition and/or beginning stages of rehabbing a historical home in the City of Newport for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati.
- 1011 Columbia St. Newport, Kentucky 41071; 10:00am – 2:00pm
Lighthouse Youth Services: Building cubbies and mailboxes for our youth in our art program at Essex Studio
- Essex Studio, 2511 Essex Place, Cincinnati, Ohio 45206; 10:00am – 2:00pm
More sites to be confirmed! Have a site idea? Email email@example.com with site contact information.
UC Law’s “You’ve been Served” is a project of the Student Bar Association’s Philanthropy Committee. For general questions, please feel free to contact its Chair, Ian Thomas.
Youth Court Diversion Program Successfully Launches; Law Students Gain Experience
Cincinnati’s Youth Court – a diversion program for teens arrested for minor misdemeanors and who have already admitted guilt – successfully launched its pilot program on May 14, 2014. The program is a collaboration between CALL (Cincinnati Academy of Leadership for Lawyers), a program sponsored by the Cincinnati Bar Association and Judge John John Williams of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court.
Rather than be heard before a judge in Juvenile Court, cases are presented to a jury of peers in Youth Court. Youth Court pursues multiple goals at the same time. First, it holds young people accountable for their actions by requiring them to accept responsibility and pay back the community. Youth Court sanctions emphasize restoration, encouraging respondents to make amends through such actions as performing community service and writing letters of apology. Second, Youth Court provides participants with experiential learning that is designed to complement classroom lessons about government. Youth Court members learn first-hand how courts work, stepping into the role of jurors.
The program utilizes local attorneys and law student volunteers serving as “judges”, “prosecutors” and “defense counsel”. The program debuted last week and is far exceeding expectations. Amanda Bleiler ’15, Simar Khera’15 and Melissa Schuett’14 helped launch the program by working with and advocating for the teens. Bleiler said, “I'm really excited that CALL is supporting the Youth Court program. In my opinion the more specialty dockets Cincinnati has the better. This is an especially important program because not only does it allow us law students to get involved and gain courtroom experience, it helps make these teenager’s first (and hopefully last) encounter with the criminal justice system a positive one that they can learn from.” Additional College of Law students are slated to participate in upcoming hearings.
Youth Court is expected to last eight (8) sessions through August at the Youth Center, with the intent to continue as a formal program with fall, spring, and summer sessions thereafter. For more information about the program or how to get involved, contact Katherine Miltner.
What Are You Doing Now?
Did You Know…according to the After the JD, an empirical study that gathered detailed data about the career outcomes for a national cohort of 5,000 Class of 2000 graduates, more than half changed jobs within five years of graduation. Further:
* By 2012, 27.7% moved into the business sector compared to just 8.4% in 2003.
* By 2012, 24.1% were no longer practicing compared to 14.7% in 2003.
The College wants to know how our graduates compare to this national benchmark. Accordingly, if you are a 2011 or 2009 graduate please let the College know the positions you have held since graduation. Please submit your response to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 30, 2014. Thanks for your help!
A View from the Other Side: Hilly McGahan’12 Talks About Working With Victims
An often-overlooked side of criminal law is that of the victims. The defendant hires or is appointed counsel, and the prosecution represents the state throughout the process, but the victims of crimes can find themselves left to their own devices on how to seek redress for the wrongs done to them. Hilly McGahan ’12 is working to bolster the voice of victims in her work with victims of domestic violence.
McGahan grew up in Arlee, a small, picturesque town in western Montana on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Growing up, her parents were in the beekeeping business, and McGahan lived a rural, farming-style childhood. During the summers she and her family worked on the farm, but when the long, cold winters came they travelled south – not just to Arizona or California, but to Mexico, and sometimes further south into South America.
Inspired by her travels, McGahan studied political science and Spanish in her undergraduate years at the University of Montana. After graduating she spent a year working in northern Guatemala. There she worked to support persons who had witnessed the military massacres that took place there, as they were to soon testify against the government. McGahan’s experiences in her travels sparked her interest in human rights law. As she looked at law schools, Cincinnati stood out because of the Urban Morgan Institute.
Having grown up in a rural lifestyle, Cincinnati was quite a change when she moved here for law school. “I really grew to love Cincinnati,” she explained, though she admitted it took a while to adjust. Findlay Market was one of her favorite Queen City destinations, and she said that she and her (then) boyfriend (now husband) took advantage of the “Enjoy the Arts” program that included numerous shows and cultural events that take place around the City.
Today, McGahan works at SAFE Harbor back home in Montana. Formerly called DOVES, SAFE Harbor has a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women (part of the Department of Justice) to provide holistic legal services to victims of domestic violence on the Flathead Reservation and Lake County, Montana. “The grant allows us to provide legal services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking,” she explained. Her work takes her to both state court and tribal court, and deals with tribal law, family law, and immigration law, as well as international law in some situations. While she is the only staff attorney, SAFE Harbor contracts with a supervising attorney, and the organization also has a domestic violence shelter and a “Men’s Accountability Program” which provides court ordered services to men convicted of domestic violence related offences.
McGahan’s background and experiences travelling inspired her to do the work she’s doing today, but she also received inspiration from her time at the College of Law. She largely came to Cincinnati for the Urban Morgan Institute, and she was impressed with the program while she was there. “I really enjoyed the group of people I worked with on Human Rights Quarterly,” she said. Further, she was impressed with the speakers that the Urban Morgan Institute brought in, noting that she was particularly impacted by Professor Michelle Alexander’s (OSU’s Moritz law school) lecture on The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. McGahan also valued her experience with UC Law’s Domestic Violence Clinic, which allowed her to represent clients in civil protection order hearings and to gain practical experience that prepared her for her current position.
When asked if she had any advice for students who may want to do similar work, she shared the following: “Get lots of practical experience in law school (as much as you can), working with clients, dealing with people from different backgrounds – these experiences are really invaluable. I think that focusing on what you are passionate about and on what sorts of communities you are interested in working with is important. Ultimately passion will take you where you want to go, and employers can see that when they interview you.”
Giving Voice to the Voiceless: Carrie Wood Shares why she is a Public Defender
Formerly an Assistant Academic Director at the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) here with UC College of Law, Carrie Wood ’95 now works with the Ohio Public Defender in Columbus, Ohio.
Originally from Cincinnati, Wood studied engineering at Cornell University. Before coming to UC for her legal studies, she spent three years as a professional equestrian, training horses, teaching students, and helping to run a 60 horse farm. She had an interest in law school, however, and decided to return to Cincinnati to pursue her JD. Before starting school, though, she worked at Graydon Head for a year, giving her a birds-eye view of the profession she was about to enter.
Wood worked on several of the primary wrongful conviction cases in her three years at OIP. Some of the issues involved were mistaken eyewitness identification, “un-validated” or improper forensic science, and informants. “Although post-conviction DNA testing played a role in all of these cases, the causes of wrongful conviction do not go away if the case does not have evidence where DNA testing can help shed light on the identity of the perpetrator,” she explained while noting that the demonstration of innocence without DNA can be more difficult. She said that the law students involved at OIP often work even harder in such cases, sharing that “it was a great experience for [her] as their supervisor to see the energy, drive, passion, and compassion the law students bring to their work on these cases.”
Now working with the Ohio Public Defender, Wood is returning to the type work she did before joining the OIP. (She has prior experience as a public defender from her time working in the Bronx doing trial work.) She learned a lot from OIP regarding DNA, false confessions, “junk science,” and some of the major flaws in the criminal justice system. “It has always been important to me to work to correct flaws in our criminal justice system,” explained Wood, “and I saw the position at the Ohio Public Defender as an opportunity to continue and expand upon that work.”
“In order to work as a public defender, you have to have a passion for it,” she reflected, noting that the money is not much of an incentive. She explained that, the way she sees it, criminal defense attorneys and public defenders are not quite one in the same. “Some people do both – and do them well. However, my primary purpose in going to law school was to work on behalf of people who didn’t have a voice or access to legal counsel.” And this is what Carrie is able to do as a public defender. “It can be difficult and draining work, but it was always helpful for me to have supporters and mentors to turn to when I had a difficult case or a difficult week in court.”
In her spare time, Wood still rides horses, and also hopes to run a marathon this year. Further, she has always had a passion for music, and admits she will miss the local music scene. “Cincinnati’s larger music festivals are doing a great job of putting the city on the national music map; I will definitely be back in September to see the Afghan Whigs at Mid-point!”