Cincinnati Law Student Working for Fair Labor
Cincinnati Law student Jackie Miller’s commute may simply be into downtown Cincinnati this summer, but she will be working on a national scale as part of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is an independent federal agency which holds the power to protect employees’ rights to organize and have unions as a bargaining representative, and works to prevent unfair labor practices.
This opportunity will allow Miller to get her feet wet and use her “skills and desires for order and logic, but to also affect positive change”, a major component that propelled her to law school. Although she has a year before graduation, this summer will help her discover if she wants to continue pursuing work in labor law and government.
“I was looking forward to seeing what working for the government was like, to see what other people thought of it, and I’m always interested in real life experiences,” she said about this job. “You hear a lot of stories about workers, their employers, and their unions, and then you get to see how a government agency handles those cases according to its own statute and case law.”
Miller is doing more than simply watching from the sidelines. She is investigating her own cases regarding unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). At work day-to-day, she is busy learning about the NLRA, taking affidavits, writing letters to attorneys and representatives, and researching issues that come up in the office that nobody is quite sure how to handle.
The NLRB is housed in the John Weld Peck Federal Building, giving Miller opportunities to learn about other agencies as well, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services. Although the knowledge she is gaining about the NLRA may be considered niche, it is absolutely useful for labor attorneys.
She noted the parallels to the classroom as well. “Real life experience is usually pretty great for putting schoolwork into perspective as well. You understand better why your professor emphasized what he or she did, and you become aware of new issues.”
For Miller, the most rewarding part of law school has been the challenges both in and out of the classroom, forcing her out of her comfort zone. “It’s not easy for everyone to be assertive, somewhat outspoken, manage time and work, maintain confidence, be resilient, and become smarter,” she said, pointing to growth she has seen in herself both personally and professionally.
Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern
UC Mascot Pursues Legal Education at Cincinnati Law
Adam Stickney knew he was going to attend the University of Cincinnati since he was 14 years old.
Growing up listening to his mom’s stories about her time at UC, he was already fond of the school. Then, when he stepped foot on campus - the first college campus he had ever been on - it was love at first sight.
Stickney decided on his college at a young age, and the decision about his career path followed in much the same way. Coming from a long line of doctors, it was never a question whether Stickney would pursue a professional school. After ruling out the medical world during high school, he knew he wanted to become a lawyer.
To go to law school, however, he needed to decide on an undergraduate degree. While he intended to use a degree in engineering as a stepping stone, he quickly discovered that that was not the route for him.
After re-evaluating his options, Stickney chose to pursue his interest in the Marine Corps. Stickney declared a criminal justice major, which he felt tied into the military, and intended to go to law school after his four years of service.
Although he planned to attend officer candidate school with the Marines, his extracurricular activities prevented that dream from being realized. A member of the cheerleading team, Stickney injured his shoulder and required multiple surgeries, causing him to become disqualified from the program.
As a result, he applied early-decision to Cincinnati Law during his senior year of his undergraduate education. At that time, Stickney was dead set on practicing criminal law, whether it was defense or prosecution.
“I thought criminal justice was the best degree I could have had. But hindsight’s always 20/20,” Stickney said, referring to his evolving plans. After talking to professionals and continuing research since his acceptance, he has also become interested in corporate practices.
Even so, his background in criminal justice and familiarity with the law in general may give Stickney a boost during his first year of law school.
Lovin’ that Bearcat Life
Despite his time as a cheerleader - and UC mascot - disrupting his plans for the military, Stickney loved the experience.
“It’s incredibly fun [being the mascot], honestly,” he said. “And it’s hot. Wherever you are, it’s 50 degrees hotter inside the suit,” he laughed.
Performing in front of thousands of students and fans never made Stickney nervous. Because there are multiple Bearcats, audiences can never be sure who is in the suit. He explained that being behind the mask provides a certain sense of security, emboldening wearers to act a little extra spirited.
Unfortunately, because of his surgeries, Stickney was unable to perform at many of the school’s sporting events, his only regret. Most of his time as the mascot was spent at social and extracurricular events, one of his favorites being a wedding in Hyde Park.
“They were both UC grads, so I ran around, I danced with the bride for a song, and I danced with some little kids. Basically, I goofed around trying to entertain people. And I took pictures a lot,” said Stickney.
As for the fall, Stickney is excited to focus on school. He admits that during his undergraduate career he had to force himself to buckle down and do the work. Whether that was because he wasn’t in the right program, or because he works better under pressure, he isn’t sure. Now, he’s even eager to start the summer reading list.
This excitement started the day he was accepted to law school. When he received his acceptance notification, he stopped being able to focus on work, and had to leave early.
“I just needed to get out of there and run around,” Stickney remembered about that day.
Although he applied early-decision, there was a technological error in his application, resulting in a delay in his acceptance.
“I ended up making a massive annoyance of myself to Dean Watson… I think he finally decided I was too pesky and just told me I was in,” laughed Stickney.
Stickney is excited to continue on at the University of Cincinnati. A fan of both the university itself and the surrounding area, he could not be happier to call it home.
“Anyone who’s coming to UC, they have everything to look forward to.”
Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern
Triple Bearcat Begins 8th year, 3rd Degree at UC
“It’s not about what brought me here, it’s about what kept me here,” said triple Bearcat Drew Lehmkuhl about his decision to pursue three separate degrees at the same university.
Lehmkuhl, who will be a 1L this fall, is entering his eighth year at the University of Cincinnati. He earned his undergraduate degree in neuroscience, and recently completed his master’s degree in experimental psychology, defending his thesis at the end of June.
Growing up in Northern Kentucky as the son of a University of Cincinnati graduate, Lehmkuhl was always a huge fan of UC sports. Even so, attending UC was not the original plan. Set to start school at the University of Louisville, he changed his mind at the last second.
“I took a leap of faith,” he stated, recalling his last-minute decision to attend a school where he wouldn’t know anyone. After leaping, however, he landed on his own two feet.
Lehmkuhl knew that he had made the right decision when he realized that what Cincinnati boasts about is true: a big school, but a tight-knit community. After becoming involved on-campus, particularly in the “unbelievable research” and interdisciplinary collaboration that was available as an undergraduate student, he felt right at home.
Four years simply was not enough time, and Lehmkuhl found himself wanting to continue on in the science field and to become more involved in research. He credits the university with focusing on practical skills to complement textbook learning, a balance that assured him UC was the right place for his graduate education.
Although the setting was the same, there were major differences between Lehmkuhl’s undergraduate and graduate education. Many of his peers had not attended the university for undergraduate, and he described showing them around campus as “being with a bunch of older freshmen.” A thirst for learning was more obvious in these “freshmen” than many of those with whom Lehmkuhl had entered UC, however.
Many undergraduate students, particularly in the beginning of their higher education careers, are more focused on passing a general education class or earning a specific grade on an exam than truly learning and absorbing the information presented to them. In graduate school, Lehmkuhl noticed, mindsets shifted towards truly learning materials in order to later apply them to practice. “It was awesome having a close group of driven students around me who are very passionate about what they do in their fields,” he said.
As a graduate student, Lehmkuhl was able to take a more involved role in research, and work more closely with faculty members. Between his undergraduate and graduate degrees, he has been able to work in many areas, including psychology, biology, and neurology, and worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the area of human genetics.
Even with a positive atmosphere and attitude, eight years of continuous schooling, with three more to go, can seem daunting. But not to Lemkuhl.
Since he has had the past year and a half off of classes, working 40 hours a week on intensive research programs, Lemkuhl is ready to be a student again. “When you’re working, it doesn’t feel like school,” he said. “I think this break time, though, has served a purpose. I love being in the classroom and can’t wait to get back.”
In addition to his work, Lemkuhl has taught classes the past six semesters, most recently research methods and statistics in behavioral sciences. Whether it was seeing concepts click into place, or the journey from glassy-eyed at the start to engaged and excited at the end, he enjoyed his stint as a teacher, and would absolutely do it again in the future.
For law school, Lehmkuhl’s area of interest lies in intellectual property. This stems from his experiences at UC, where he worked with individuals who inspired and amazed him each day.
“I want to continue working with brilliant people,” Lehmkuhl asserted. “I want to be a facilitator, a legal advocate, for these brilliant people who are doing work like this, who have brilliant ideas. And I want to protect those ideas.”
Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern
There’s a Doctor in the House
Dr. Susan Brown has already had more experiences than most people have in a lifetime. Attending the University of Cincinnati for medical school, she funded her education through the United States Air Force. During her residency, she worked at Dayton Children’s Hospital, specializing in pediatric medicine. Her residency was through the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), the only joint air force and civilian residency program in the country.
Brown later returned to the Queen City to work at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for her fellowship in adolescent medicine.
After her residency, she became chief of Adolescent Medicine at WPAFB, a position she held for 12 years. She ran her own child abuse clinic, dealing with both physical and sexual abuse cases, and worked on cases involving the assault of young active duty troops all over the world.
While child abuse was an area she had originally hoped to avoid, Brown became a huge asset to the Air Force because of it. In addition to running her own clinic, she became the physician representative to the child maltreatment team; was a Department of Defense resource as an expert consultant and witness; traveled all over the world to work on cases; and, in her final two years, was named consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General for child abuse.
It was these experiences in the field, however, that ultimately led her to enroll in law school. After realizing her medical career didn’t to completely fulfill her desires, she knew she needed to take her professional career in another direction. Because another fellowship would have been almost impossible, she sought out an alternative route for advocacy.
“I want to help people, and law school seemed like another way to do that,” said Brown, who describes herself as a “bleeding heart.”
Although her undergraduate alma mater also boasts a law school, and offered her a full scholarship, she decided Cincinnati was the best fit. With the combination of the school’s collaborative atmosphere, the wide array of specific academic tracks, the high quality education, and the Glenn M. Weaver Institute for Law and Psychiatry, Cincinnati felt like home.
Brown particularly loves the Weaver Institute because of its interdisciplinary approach. While she has not settled on a specialty, she is interested in multiple areas: child abuse and family issues; veteran’s issues; and geriatric issues, including dementia and estate laws.
“That’s the beautiful thing I discovered about Weaver,” shared Brown. “It’s not a specific thing, but it branches through all of those things that interest me.”
Upon researching the Institute, she also discovered parallels between herself and founder Dr. Weaver; both doctors, both veterans, and both interested in bridging the gap between medicine and law.
While she admits she is likely to pick an area where law and medicine intersect, she is unsure of anything more specific. Regardless of specialty, her backgrounds in medicine and the military have allowed her a unique perspective that will likely prove beneficial.
Brown has worked on two humanitarian deployments to Guyana, the only English-speaking country in South America. A poor country to begin with, Guyana was experiencing political chaos at the time of her deployments. Because the country feared their medical staffs would try to leave, they discontinued any ongoing education or graduate medical education programs. The result was faulty medical care for patients.
Brown worked on a multidisciplinary team, charged with teaching the medical staffs in the country. This was a change of pace from the usual focus of direct clinical work. While she admits the trip was frightening at times - the team became expert marksmen during training, learning how to shoot M-9s, and traveled with armed guards - it was also gratifying.
“We were there for about a month each time, and it was very rewarding because it felt like we were really changing the system,” said Brown, who compared their work to the adage, “Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll never go hungry again.”
After her international travels and medical experience, Brown is enthusiastic about starting law school.
“I definitely love to have something different and challenging, and I know that law school will be that, and will help me find that next step. I don’t know what the next step is exactly - I have a fuzzy idea of where I want to go - but I think law school is a big part of it.”
Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern
2L Sarah Ambach Finds Success through Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic
In the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, Cincinnati Law students represent local small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs 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.
Experience of a Lifetime: Second-Year Law Student Ariel Guggisberg Helps Secure Prisoner’s Release
Law student helps write petition that leads to prisoner’s sentence commutation.
Cincinnati, OH—President Barack Obama’s recent commutation of 61 federal prisoners has a Cincinnati Law connection: second-year student Ariel Guggisberg helped draft the clemency petition for one of the prisoners whose sentence was commuted. “It feels like we really changed a person’s life,” she said.
The clemency petition was made possible under the umbrella of Clemency Project 2014, a working group of attorneys and advocates who provide pro bono assistance to federal prisoners who would likely have received a shorter sentence if sentenced today. Participants include federal defenders, the American Civil Liberties Union, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, more than 70 of the nation’s largest and most prestigious law firms, 500 small firms and solo practitioners, and 30 law schools and clinics. The project was developed after former Deputy Attorney General James Cole appealed to the legal profession to provide free assistance to help identify eligible prisoners and assist them in preparation of clemency petitions.
The Clemency Project 2014 reviews requests from a prisoner who has served 10 years and does not have an obviously disqualifying feature (ex. a crime of violence). The prisoner is assigned an attorney, who requests permission to review documents in his/her case to determine if other criteria are met. If the prisoner is qualified, the individual is assisted by a lawyer to help fill out and file a clemency petition. That’s where Guggisberg came in.
As part of her summer internship at firm Pinales Stachler last year, Guggisberg—under the direction of her supervising attorney Candace Crouse—was charged with helping to draft the petition for her client Michael Morris. (The firm was assigned two cases.) “I thought it was so much fun over last summer,” she said, “finding ways to argue how our client would be sentenced differently today—such as ‘the old laws required mandatory outlandish sentences,’ ‘the sentencing laws differ today,’ and ‘our client has accepted responsibility and learned from his experience.’
“We had to show he’s been rehabilitated and that he can contribute to society.”
After the petition was written, it was submitted to the Office of the Pardon Attorney, where the US Pardon Attorney makes final recommendations to the President. Then they wait to hear.
President Obama’s commutations are part of a larger effort calling for changes to sentencing laws. Most of the recipients “are low-level drug offenders whose sentences would have been shorter if they were convicted under today’s laws,” wrote President Obama in a Facebook posting. He went on to describe pardons and communications as ways “to show people what a second chance can look like.”
Guggisberg and her colleagues at the firm had the pleasure and privilege of breaking the exciting news to their client. She described it as an “incredibly rewarding experience.” Mr. Morris, who is in Texas, will live with his family to reintegrate into society, beginning his new life in July when he and the others are officially released.
What did she learn from this experience? Guggisberg shared that she was impressed and encouraged by watching her colleagues, daily, do everything they can for clients. “It was beautiful to see. I learned that to be successful in criminal defense, you have to have thick skin and relentless hope in humanity.”
Upon graduation next year, Guggisberg plans to focus her career in healthcare law.
Third Year Law Student’s Oral Argument Garners a New Sentence For Client Before the Sixth Circuit
Kellie Kulka’s oral argument at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals brings a win for the Sixth Circuit Clinic and a published opinion—all before graduation.
Cincinnati, OH—Kellie Kulka ’16 had an opportunity only a small number of law students get – to argue a case before a federal appellate court, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. What happened her first time up? The court ruled in her client’s favor, reversing the sentence!
“This is a big win,” said Kulka. “I’m just shocked that they issued an opinion so quickly.”
The case, United States v. Fowler, involved a Detroit doctor who was convicted of healthcare fraud. The law school’s Sixth Circuit Clinic, which introduces students to the basics of appellate advocacy, took the case on appeal. Last year’s clinic participants wrote the initial brief; this year’s group did additional research and brought the case to argument.
Clinic director Colter Paulson, Senior Associate at Squire Patton Boggs, explained: “Kellie took oral argument preparation, and her representation of the client, very seriously and spent the better part of two months working on and preparing for the argument. ” This was in addition to her regular clinic assignments and academic work.
“When I walked through security at Potter Stewart Court House, I was asked if I was there to argue a case, to which I responded "yes I am,” said Kulka. “That's when the experience became very real to me, that this wasn't just at Moot Court competition, but that I was actually advocating for someone. I spent months reading trial transcripts and the briefing by the parties. I was actually dreaming about the case by March. However, it was not until I told them that I was there to argue, that I was able to take real ownership the case.
“Kellie’s preparation paid off. In fact, she did such an excellent job during oral argument that the federal public defender in a companion case ceded his reply time to her so she could drive our points home before the panel,” said Paulson.
“I argued in the En Banc Courtroom. I had been in that room before to observe, but actually learning that I would argue in that room was surreal,” Kulka remarked. “I was nervous initially, but once I began to present the case, the adrenaline kicked in and I rode that thrill for the remainder of my time.”
The clinic team won a reversal of the doctor’s sentence because the court failed to make factual findings to support it. And Paulson and the team feel that they should be able to substantially reduce the client’s sentence on remand, based on some of the language written in the decision about the extent of the fraud.
“But we also won a larger victory,” noted Paulson. “Lots of sentencing arguments like this are losers because of waiver before the trial court, but we argued that the right to factual findings could not be waived. There were no cases in any circuit saying so, but we got the panel to agree that even if the trial attorney waived the argument, ‘the district court was still under an obligation to make factual findings regarding the applicable Guidelines range.’ This is decision requires district courts to make factual findings to support sentences rather than (as is often the case) just hand-waiving to create a Guideline sentence.”
Congratulations to Kellie Kulka, the Sixth Circuit participants, and clinic co-directors Paulson and Lauren Kuley, Associate at Squire Patton Boggs, on their successful win.
University of Cincinnati College of Law Named a Best School for Public Service Careers
Kate Cook ’14 interned with the Indigent Defense Clinic, learning to represent clients.
The College of Law was recognized among the top 20 law schools in the country for law students interested in prosecutorial/public defender work.
Cincinnati, OH— The accolades continue into 2016 as the University of Cincinnati College of Law was just recognized as a “Best School for Public Service Careers” by National Jurist magazine. The college is among the top 20 law schools in the country in the prosecutors/public defenders category.
“I am very happy to hear we have been recognized for our success in preparing students for careers in public service. This is a reflection to the hard work and commitment of our faculty and staff,” said Dean Jennifer S. Bard.
National Jurist magazine conducted a study, which will be published in the winter edition of preLaw magazine that looked at the top schools in three categories – public interest, government and prosecutors/public defenders. The study examined curricular offerings, employment placement, debt, starting salary and loan repayment assistance programs. Twenty schools were recognized in each category; some schools appeared in more than one.
Over the past few months the College of Law has received numerous acknowledgements, including being ranked an A- Best Value Law School by National Jurist and preLaw magazines; a top school for practical training by National Jurist; a top 50 law school for sending graduates to the top 250 law firms by the National Law Journal; and a top 30 National Jurist Super Lawyer School.
LLM Program Is Opening Doors for Attorneys from China
“Law is the art about justice and kindness. It has depth and complexity; every court has two sides, and society is driven by multiple different forces,” states Ying (Nancy) Zhang, an LL.M. student from China.
The LL.M. program provides students who have studied law in a foreign country the opportunity to receive up to two years of exposure to the U.S. legal system. Each student has, at minimum, a bachelor’s in law and earns a masters in law for foreign-trained lawyers. The program is currently in its fourth year, and has so far graduated 30 students from 18 different countries. This year’s class features 18 students from 10 countries, and includes Qing Lyu, also from China, in addition to Zhang.
Before starting the LL.M. program, Zhang completed a bachelor’s degree at Zhengzhou University, where she received training to “think like a lawyer”, and a master’s degree at China University of Political Science and Law. She also had field experience, practicing corporate law at a local firm in Singapore for nearly four years.
When her husband relocated to the U.S. for work, it opened the door for Zhang to participate in the program.
Fellow student Lyu also left China to pursue education in America when her husband came to the States for work as well. “If you have a law degree in your country, and you know a little bit about American institutions, when you come back to my country, it’s very competitive for you to find a good job.” Although Lyu is not yet sure if they will return to China at some point, she does know that she wants to get work experience in America under her belt before they do.
Lyu also attended China University of Political Science and Law, but for her undergraduate education, where she studied both law and economics. For her graduate program, she went to Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, focusing on maritime law.
Similar to other LL.M. students, these women have noticed disparities between teaching styles here and in their home country, and both point to talking during class being the biggest one.
Lyu explained that professors will lecture, and although you can ask questions, it typically doesn’t happen. In the third year, students take classes that do allow them to talk a little bit, but note taking is still the major point of class. During her studies here, however, “We are asked to engage a lot. To ask questions, discuss with each other, or debate with professors-that’s very different.” Professors, and other students, are more open to questions here as well, and she feels that there is not such a stigma of asking a “dumb question.”
Zhang partially credited the factor of age for this phenomenon. While American law students hold some other type of degree, those in China do not necessarily have that. Law is open to younger students, meaning that they need to be told more of what the law is, and how it works, before they can reasonably be expected to make judgements about it.
This degree has also served as a reminder that looks can be deceiving. Although she researched what law school in America entailed, Zhang came to find out that actually doing it is different than imagining it. As taking class everyday in China was no problem, she didn’t understand why everyone said 17 credit hours would be too much. After delving into her classes, however, she realized that they were right. “When I’m really going through it, it’s like, Oh, okay, I really have a lot of homework. I actually need to read a lot before I come to school, I’m expected to talk in class, and I have to write a lot. I knew I would probably go through this, but actually doing it is a little bit different.”
Lyu felt similarly, originally deceived by social media posts. “I feel like it’s more challenging than I thought. A lot of my classmates came to the U.S. to study law, and they always post pictures of a lot of interesting things, like parties, and they travel a lot...I feel like I don’t have time for that. Basically, I study in the library, I prepare for class, I go home to sleep, and that’s my life.”
Although there are not as many international students, specifically those from China, at UC as opposed to many other law schools, Lyu views this as a benefit. “It forces you to talk with Americans or people from different countries, which also helps you improve your english skills. It’s kind of common if you have a lot of Chinese here that you just talk with them. You discuss with them about the class, or anything, so I think it’s beneficial for me not to have that.”
After LL.M. graduation, Zhang hopes to continue practicing corporate law, similar to what she was doing before, but to stay in the U.S.
Lyu isn’t sure where she will end up. If she remains stateside, she wishes to become a lawyer. However, upon return to China, her goal is to become a judge. Although that’s often one’s final job in America, it is not the same in her home country. After graduation, many of her classmates became clerks, in pursuit of eventually becoming a judge, saying, “In our country, we want to work for the government.”
Wherever they end up, both women are extremely happy to be a part of the program, and grateful for the opportunity to learn from skilled professors who care. As Zhang put it, “It is a privilege to be back to school at this time of my life.”
Author: Michelle Flanagan '18, UC Honors Student
Prof. Sandra Sperino Gives Talk on First Generation Discrimination
Prof. Sandra Sperino gave a talk titled "First Generation Discrimination" at the conference, The Present and Future of Civil Rights Movements: Race and Reform in 21st Century America. The conference was hosted by Duke Law School's Center on Law, Race and Politics on November 20-21, 2015.