Bulgarian LLM Student Yana Kostova Shares Thoughts on the City, Working at the Mayor’s Office, and Cincinnati Red’s Opening Day
UC Law’s nine-month LLM program is designed to introduce internationally trained lawyers to the U.S. legal system. One of the reasons the program is so attractive to many students is because of its flexibility. Some students can take advantage of a number of practical experiences with the various centers and institutes at the college and throughout the city. That was a bonus for current LLM student Yana Kostova.
Kostova grew up in Bulgaria, where she lived and studied through high school. When she turned 18, she moved to England, studying law at the University of the West of England in Bristol, working toward an LLB degree. Her focus was commercial law. Kostova gained experience working in the legal department of the Bank of Ireland before making the decision to move to the United States.
While she considered moving to California where her sister lived, Kostova ultimately decided to begin her journey in Ohio. “It is not the biggest city, but at the same time it gives you a lot of the things to do that you can do in bigger cities like New York or Chicago,” she said about the Queen City. Kostova added that the people are very nice here and the weather is a bit better than what she experienced in England. In her spare time, she plays tennis with UC’s club team. She played professionally as a child and is happy she is able to keep tennis as a hobby while in law school.
Prepping to Study US Law
While Kostova did not study law in her native Bulgaria, the transition to studying the field in the US was easy because of the similarities between English and American law, she commented. She also honed her skills reading and speaking English while in England, preparing her even more for studying in this country. After earning her LLM this spring, Kostova plans to continue to practice in the commercial law field in New York as she did while in England. But her time at the college has opened her eyes to other possible avenues for her career.
Kostova is currently interning with Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley’s office. “I wanted to work on establishing contacts and to develop my networking and interpersonal skills,” she shared of her goals with her internship. “But since working there, I have begun to find an interest in civil rights.” She noted that this area of law, in particular, is much different than her prior experiences. The internship also surprised her by introducing her to her first Opening Day parade. “It was my first parade – I had no idea what I was supposed to do,” she explained with a smile and a laugh. Kostova has also developed an interest in public interest work. She feels that it affords attorneys the opportunity to establish a work-life balance as opposed to some firm jobs where attorneys may work twelve-hour days.
Kostova offered some advice for students considering the LLM program in the future: “If you are unsure of what you want to specialize in, this is a good problem to have. The LLM program can be tailored to what you are interested in, and the externship programs allow you to get some practical experience to help you decide.”
Catalina Roa Pacheco Talks About the Socratic Method, the LLM Program, and Cincinnati Traffic
Catalina Roa Pacheco, formerly a practicing attorney in Colombia, will be graduating this spring with her LLM degree. Originally from Bogotá, Roa Pacheco moved to the United States in 2012 with her husband. Though she was working as an attorney in Colombia, Roa Pacheco was unsure of whether she would continue with the legal profession in Cincinnati. Her husband, who is completing his residency at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, recommended that she check out UC Law and the LLM program. In fact, she had the opportunity to participate in a program to learn more about UC Law, the LLM program, and the city of Cincinnati. “Working with the LLM Admissions Office made the process very easy,” she shared. “Seeing how easy it was to apply and that I was able to get a scholarship made my decision easy.”
In her spare time, Roa Pacheco shared that she enjoys watching movies, particularly documentaries, for some respite from the classroom and library. She also enjoys living downtown and taking walks around the heart of the city. “Cincinnati is completely different from Bogotá,” said Roa Pacheco. “But I have really enjoyed my time here. The people are amazing.” While Cincinnati is a smaller city, it still has much to offer, she believes. One difference she shared might surprise Cincinnatians: Roa Pacheco says that the traffic here is much better than in Bogotá. (Keep this in mind on your next commute through the orange cone maze!) Cincinnati also showed her snow for the first time; and Roa Pacheco finds the springtime here to be beautiful.
The Challenges of Different Legal Systems and the Socratic Method
Like many other internationally trained lawyers, pursuing her LLM degree is the first time Roa Pacheco has really engaged with a common law legal system. Not only is the legal system different and challenging to learn, but the classroom experience is also different. She remarked that the Socratic method was a bit intimidating at first (something most law students and UC Law alums can relate to).
Roa Pacheco has been able to gain additional practical experience outside the classroom with an externship at ProKids, a nonprofit agency that provides advocacy for abused and neglected children in Hamilton County. This sort of public interest work has struck a chord with her, and she plans on practicing in this field when she returns to Colombia in a few years.
Ukranian LLM Student Marina Nemirovska has Found Her Niche in Immigration Work
Marina Nemirovska grew up in Ukraine, living in Kiev, the capital of the country. There, she earned her master’s degree in engineering as well as her master’s degree in law. While she worked briefly in the engineering field, she opted to pursue a legal career. For 14 years Nemirovska practiced law in Ukraine. Initially she worked as a corporate lawyer, dealing with customs and contracts. After eight years of corporate work, Nemirovska opened her own firm to work as a private notary. “Instead of mainly witnessing signatures, a notary in Ukraine works in a broader area, preparing all sorts of legal documents,” she explained about the nature of her work. She did this work for six years before moving to Cincinnati.
It was meeting her husband that fueled her decision to move to the United States. Nemirovska moved with her daughter and pets (including a big Newfoundland named Bronya) and a “bunch of luggage.” Once here in Cincinnati, she started her education at the university, graduating with a paralegal studies degree. When she heard about UC Law’s LLM program, Nemirovska initially wanted to investigate it for her daughter. “My daughter received her law degree in Ukraine, but we moved shortly after she graduated,” explained Nemirovska. “I thought the LLM program might be a good avenue to start to her career in the US. Little did I know I would end up entering the program myself!”
Life in Cincinnati…and Kiev
Cincinnati is much different from her life living in the capital of the Ukraine. She noted that life in Cincinnati is much different than in her homeland. “Here, if you want to work, you have to drive,” she stated. “Back in Ukraine, I largely relied on public transportation to get around.” But even though Cincinnati is very different, Nemirovska does like the area—well enough to stick around and establish her legal career in Ohio. After she graduates this spring, she plans to take a bar prep course and then the Ohio Bar Exam. She is, admittedly, nervous about the prospect. “The law here is very flexible,” she said, “whereas back home we have only the code, and that is it.” She also commented that though studying the U.S. legal system a bit later in life coupled with the fact that English is not her native language may have contributed to the difficulties of studying law here, it was the transition from civil law to studying common law that has challenged her the most.
Interestingly, Nemirovska’s time in the U.S. has changed her interests in the law. She has developed interests in both immigration law and intellectual property. In December, Nemirovska became a U.S. citizen and, when taking into account the current events in Ukraine, she does not plan on returning to the country where she spent the first chapters of her life.
In fact, Nemirovska expressed an interest in opening a type of “center” for immigrants and international students. She has found that, even being here for years, it is difficult to learn how to find a job, how to get a driver’s license, and how to meet people, among other things. Commenting that there are very few Russian-speaking attorneys in Ohio, Nemirovska feels that this is one way that she can combine her life experiences with her legal training—both here and in the Ukraine—to help others.
From a Small Town in India to Bustling Cincinnati, Pradeep Kandambath Continue to Pursue a Legal Career
From the small town of Payyanur in a region of southern India known for its long, sandy beaches, coconut trees, monsoon rains, and exotic spices, Pradeepkumar Kandambath moved to the United States looking to pursue a legal career. That was over 12 years ago. His circuitous journey, however, brought him to the College of Law as a student in the LLM program.
Kandambath attended Payyanur College (which is affiliated with Calicut University) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history. He then went on to attend Symbiosis Law School in Pune, a university town not too far from Mumbai. Not done with academia yet, Kandambath also received a diploma in electronic commerce in Bangalore from Asset International, an institute renowned for its programs in e-commerce and computer and information technologies.
“I was, in fact, born in a family of lawyers! My father, the late K.U. Narayana Poduval, was a civil lawyer and freedom fighter who began his practice in the 1940’s with former state minister of law and education K. Chandrashekharan. My uncle, the late K.U. Kunhikrishna Poduval, and my elder brother, the late Jagdishchandran, were also lawyers who have inspired me to take the legal profession with utmost seriousness and a sense of dedication,” Kandambath said.
From 1997 to 2002, Kandambath practiced in the areas of property law, employment law, contracts, and company law in a small firm at Kochi and at the High Court of Kerala. At Kochi, he had the opportunity to intern with former Judge of the Supreme Court of India and world renowned human rights activist, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, which he considers to be a milestone in his career.
“Cincinnati looked almost unreal to me when I first arrived,” said Kandambath. He contrasted Cincinnati with what he knew about urban life in India, where poverty, noise, and pollution are integral parts of urban life. “One thing noteworthy about the Cincinnati is that it is a bustling cosmopolitan city like any other major city in the U.S.,” shared Kandambath, “except for the rush and difficult commutes.”
Having never cooked before moving to the U.S., cooking is now one of Kandambath hobbies along with travelling and music. A notable difference culturally, Kandambath shared that the cooking back home was usually done by servants. “It may sound strange to a Westerner” he laughed. “I had not even seen the whole kitchen in the house I was born in and lived at for more than 25 years!”
Having established his life in Cincinnati, Kandambath admittedly had almost given up his goal of establishing a legal practice here. When he moved to the Queen City years ago, no LLM program existed, and impracticalities and cost prevented him and his family from moving to another city. Then when he was online searching for short-term courses in law, he discovered UC Law’s new LLM program and jumped at the opportunity to pursue his dream. “I always wanted to have a post graduate degree in legal studies,” he said. “The LLM program has been the most exciting thing that has happened to me since I came to the United States.”
Now nearing graduation, Kandambath hopes to work with a law firm or business establishment where he can utilize his unique, multinational educational background. “I have benefitted immensely by doing the LLM program at UC,” he said. “I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in any career path in the legal field.
Faculty members at UC have extensive experience in legal practice and bring outstanding scholarship and teaching experience to the class. I would advise every student to take full advantage of this as well as the career support at the university.”
3L Caroline Hyatt Wins Second Place in National Writing Competition
Congratulations to third year law student Caroline Hyatt who placed second in the 2013-2014 Louis Jackson National Memorial Student Writing Competition in Labor and Employment Law for her paper, “The Legal Enforcement of 'Proper' Gender Performance Through Title VII.”
The competition is sponsored by the national labor and employment law firm Jackson Lewis in memory of Mr. Jackson, one of the firm’s founders. The competition has been administered by IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law’s, Institute for Law and the Workplace. Her essay will be published on the Institute for Law and the Workplace website and she will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
Hyatt, a native of Cincinnati, is a graduate of the university with a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs with certificates in Asian Studies and in International Human Rights.
What have been some of the best experiences at the law school and why?
“In the summer following my first year of law school, I worked at the EEOC in the Office of Federal Operations in Washington D.C. Federal employees with discrimination complaints go through a longer administrative process before they have the option of going to federal court and this office is responsible for the appellate decisions of these claims. About a month before I started working there, they issued an exciting decision in Macy v. Holder. This case established that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on gender identity. Following this monumental decision, the EEOC had a panel that summer to discuss the impact of the case that I got to attend. This discussion triggered the nagging question in the back of my mind that eventually led to my MA/JD final project.
“That fall I started researching the topic of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the extent to which it might be protected under Title VII with the help of my MA/JD final project committee, made up of Professors Deb Meem from Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Sandra Sperino and Chris Bryant from the law school. Working on that project, a paper that utilized the theoretical concepts that I learned in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies MA program and applying them to a legal problem in a new and unique way, made my 2L year the most challenging and rewarding year of my academic career. The work I did with the EEOC and on my paper also led me to the specialty I plan to practice in when I graduate: LGBT employment discrimination.”
How did you get involved with the writing competition?
“When I finished the paper I wrote for my MA/JD final project, I knew that I wanted to rewrite it in a form that focused on the legal aspect of my work so that I could get the ideas out there in the legal field. While there have been huge gains in protecting the LGBT community from employment discrimination, there is a lot of work still to be done, and my research can help ensure that that work creates real change instead of just the appearance of change or even reinforcing the very societal norms that we are trying to shift. Professor Sperino recommended places to submit my work and all of my committee helped me edit and prepare my paper. I submitted my paper to the writing competition this past January and was just so excited to find out that my paper, “The Legal Enforcement of “Proper” Gender Performance Through Title VII,” had won second place!”
How will this experience help in your career?
“The opportunity to become so deeply knowledgeable in one area of law through the work I did on my article, which I spent a whole year on, has helped me focus my experiences toward a specialty in LGBT employment discrimination. This area of law is new and changing and it’s exciting to be a part of it.
Participating specifically in the writing competition and in winning second place puts my work and my ideas out there on a much larger scale. It’s accessible online to anyone who wants to see it and I hope that it can contribute to a larger conversation, in legal academia and among practitioners, about the direction the law is moving.”
Last Question: what did you think when you heard you won?
“I was so excited! I didn’t know when to expect an answer, so I was completely caught off guard. It was a great feeling after working so hard on something for so long to have that work recognized on a national scale.”
Hyatt plans to work in employment discrimination, doing litigation on behalf of employees, and specializing in working to protect the LGBT community from discrimination.
Sam Ginocchio ’15 Shares Thoughts for Small Business Owners
Sam Ginocchio ’15 is a former owner of A Tavola Bar and Trattoria, a Tri-state hotspot located in the revitalized downtown Over-The-Rhine community. He shares his thoughts on why law school is important for small business owners.
As a small business owner you can have a great idea, entrepreneurial drive and a willingness to work long hours, but to succeed you need to couple those with an understanding that you're operating in a larger world. It’s a world where there are many competing interests - from other businesses, suppliers, government entities and the larger community as a whole. Besides the traditional legal fields of property, contracts, and commercial transactions, law school trains you to ask questions that you might not have realized were a part of your business vision, and develops collaborative problem solving skills which hopefully enhance whatever practical abilities and gut instinct you bring to your business. My goals haven't changed as much as they've been refined; I still believe small businesses are key for our city's vibrancy and an important engine for Cincinnati's growth.
Law Student Places 2nd in Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon
Donnie Warner, a 2014 College of Law graduate, placed second in the 15th Annual Marathon, held May 4, 2014. He says his next marathon will involve studying for the Ohio Bar.
Law student Donnie Warner ’14 has a lot to celebrate this month. He’s completed three years of law school. He’s scheduled to graduate from the College on May 17th. And, oh yes, he just finished 2nd place in the 15th Annual Flying Pig Marathon, held Sunday, May 4, 2014 in Cincinnati. He finished the grueling race with a time of 2:28:39, besting third place winner Kota Reichart by 18 seconds; he was 1 minute and 18 seconds behind three-time winner Sergio Reyes.
Warner’s running career started when he was 8 or 9 years old, he said. He went on to run for his high school team in Michigan. Next, he ran for DePaul University, earning a scholarship for cross country and track along the way. He ran his first Flying Pig marathon in 2010, placing fourth and running about eight minutes slower than he did this year. “It was a disappointing result for me,” Warner said. “The silver lining was that I gained experience. This year that experience paid off with a smarter [running] strategy!” During law school he continued to race in marathons, placing seventh in the Columbus Marathon in 2012 and sixth in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 2013.
The Reason He Runs
With over 20 years under his belt, Warner has many reasons for why he runs. What he likes most, however, is the opportunity to meet interesting people. “Through running I've had the opportunity to become friends with runners from around the world, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Ireland, England, Morocco, and South Africa. When I lived on the Navajo Nation, I learned that my student's uncle was a famous runner; before long I was visiting his house and learning about his career. I am fascinated by how running brings people together.”
His wife is also a runner and the two enjoy running together to catch up on the day’s or week’s events.
Why This Year’s Race was so Important
The 2014 Flying Pig had special significant for Warner. This year he ran in support of a local organization – Elementz Hip-Hop Youth Center in Over-The-Rhine. Elementz teaches and encourages art that comes out of urban life and experience. Thus, through rap, spoken word, stepping, urban photography, music production and video production, youth are able to express themselves and communicate their message of respect, hope, and achieving success. “I think that Elementz does very important work in our community, so I was happy to find a way to help out.” He has raised $1300 to date.
Warner isn’t sure when or where his next race will be. He’ll be a little occupied for the next few months preparing for the Ohio Bar Exam. “I guess studying for the bar is kind of a marathon! I am going to start with that (the Bar Exam) and then see what (race) looks interesting. Someday, though, I’d really like to run an international marathon.”
As for after the bar, Warner says he has enjoyed his experiences working in criminal defense and employment law. He hoping to find a career in one of those areas, or perhaps something else. He’s open to possibilities!
Guest Student Program
Many professionals would benefit by obtaining knowledge of the law, including those working in such fields as business, criminal justice, engineering, medicine, psychiatry or psychology, education, human resources, journalism, and many more. These professionals, along with graduate students studying in other fields, can enhance their knowledge of law by enrolling in one or two classes at the College of Law as a "Guest Student." Guest Students can take up to six credits at the College in classes that will enhance their knowledge of law in topics of particular interest to them. If you are interested in taking a class as a guest student, contact Charlene Carpenter, registrar, for more information at 513.556.0070.
Kenley Street '14: Health Law Advocate, Weaver Institute Fellow, and Transfer Student
Kenley Street ’14 plans to work in health law, utilizing her strong background in psychology and counseling. She is a licensed counselor and has worked as a violence prevention education specialist at Lebanon’s Abuse and Rape Crisis Shelter.
Street’s legal career began at another tri-state law school. Looking for an opportunity to combine her counseling background with the law, she was drawn to the college’s Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry, which focuses on applying legal perspectives to mental health and psychiatric issues. After deciding to transfer to UC Law, the rest—they say—is history.
What area of law are you interested in?
“I want to work in health law. Eventually I want to return to academia and research, preferably in the field of public health policy and mental health law.” Street has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wright State University and a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Dayton. She has worked as a research assistant for Wright State University’s Human Factors Psychology & Behavioral Neuroscience Labs and a visiting instructor/guest lecturer for the University of Dayton.
Why UC Law?
Kenley initially applied to UC Law and was waitlisted. Wanting to move forward with her career plans, she decided to take a spot in the accelerated two-year program at the University of Dayton School of Law. “While at UDSL I was involved in the Business Law Society, Sports and Entertainment Law Society, and I was the president of the Student Bar Association. After a full year of classes I came to the conclusion that I wanted to work in the field of health law. UDSL did not offer much in terms of related course work in this field.
UC Law, however, offered the Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry and the Fellowship. This was a perfect blend of my psychology and counseling background with my current desire to work in a health related field. I applied for transfer status to UC Law in the middle of the year in order to be eligible to apply for the fellowship in the spring. After being accepted to UC Law, I applied and interviewed for the Weaver Fellowship. I am excited and honored to be the only transfer student to be accepted into the Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry.”
What activities are you involved in here at UC Law?
“I am a member of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society. I also am a student representative for Kaplan and will be the Kaplan head representative this coming school year. I am most involved, however, with the Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry Fellowship as I am one of the new fellows for the 2013-14 school year.
In addition, this past academic year she served as a judicial law clerk extern to Chief Judge Susan J. Dlott, United States District Court—Southern District of Ohio. There, she conducted legal research on property, contract, copyright, education and labor and employment law. She also worked as an extern for the General Counsel’s office for Cincinnati Public Schools, conducting legal research for them also.
What are your summer plans?
This summer I am working for the Cincinnati Financial Corporation under the subsidiary of the Cincinnati Insurance Company. I will be a law clerk in the litigation department. I hope to learn more about how the insurance industry works, how risks are made and how policy is created. I look forward to the experience of working with several very seasoned attorneys in an in-house setting. CIC only accepts two interns each year for a full 12- month assignment. I am honored to work with such a respected company within the community.
Law School Celebrates 180th Hooding Ceremony; First Class of LLM Students Graduate
Graduation was held Sunday, May 19, 2013, at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.
The College of Law celebrated the accomplishments of its graduates at its 180th Hooding Ceremony, held May 19, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. The event was at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.
Making this event extra meaningful was the inclusion of the first class of students graduating with an LLM in the U.S. Legal System. The LLM is the law school’s master’s degree program designed for foreign-trained attorneys, which was launched last year. This year, four of the six LLM students graduated. (Two students have chosen to remain at the law school to participate in a certificate program next academic year.).
Meet Several of the LLM Graduates
- Ovenseri Ven Ogbebor. From Nigeria, Ogbebor received his education in Benin City. He has also taken classes at a university in Indianapolis, IN. He took part in the LLM program to begin the process of fulfilling Ohio’s bar exam requirement so that he can become an attorney in Ohio.
- Felicia Omoji. Also from Nigeria, Omoji was a practicing attorney for 22 years in her home country. The additional knowledge and skills learned via the LLM Program, Omoji believes, will help her to be better prepared in dealing with American and Nigerian clients, especially in a global arena. She would like to work in the legal/public interest/ non-profit sectors.
- Nerissa Harvey. From Jamaica, she received her LLM from the University of London. Harvey decided to work for her LLM in order to gain an understanding of the U.S. legal system and to develop the foundation necessary for the Ohio bar. She is interested in a career in estate planning.
About the Ceremony
The speaker for this year’s ceremony was Class of 1984 alumnae Sharon Zealey, chief ethics and compliance officer for the Coca-Cola Company. In addition to managing the global compliance program, she serves on the company’s Ethics & Compliance Committee and advises on U.S. trade sanctions and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Previously, she was senior litigation counsel for the Coca-Cola.
Zealey is a former partner in the commercial litigation practice group at Blank Rome LLP. She served as the United States attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, appointed by President Bill Clinton. She was also appointed by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and advised Ms. Reno on issues of national importance. She was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Criminal Division for three years prior to her appointment. Ms. Zealey also served as Deputy Ohio Attorney General.
This year’s event also included the presentation of the 2013 Nicholas J. Longworth, III Alumni Achievement Award to Mark Stall ’88. This award recognizes law school graduates for their outstanding contributions to society. Stall is currently general counsel of xpedx, a division of International Paper Company. In this role he provides legal and business advice and assistant to senior management, headquarters and field managers, as well as sales professionals. Actively involved in the community, Stall is co-chair of the Greater Cincinnati Minority Counsel Program, a member of the school’s Board of Visitors and the board for the school’s LLM Program and Institute for the Global Practice of Law, member of the board of directors of the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce.
Also being honored were this year’s winners of the Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching: Professors A. Christopher Bryant, Lewis Goldfarb, and Sandra Sperino. The Goldman Prize is given to law school professors and is based on their research and public service as they contribute to superior performance in the classroom. .