Words of Wisdom from Alum Billy Martin
His past clients have included a range of high profile people, from sports stars Allen Iverson and Michael Vick to politicians Bill Campbell and Larry Craig. But William “Billy” Martin (class of ’74) spends more time doing less-publicized work for large corporations in complex civil and white collar criminal cases, not to mention his past as a prosecutor for the city of Cincinnati, and later, the federal government. He is delighted to return to his alma mater tomorrow, November 4th, to speak at the All Alumni Reunion.
Martin set aside time to take a few questions for Cincinnati Law.
To understate it, you’ve had an impressive career. Have lessons learned at UC Law proved beneficial along the way?
The legal education I received at the University of Cincinnati has prepared me to litigate all over the world. I’ve been in Europe and Africa, in the Caribbean, as well as almost every state. I have a degree of confidence that was given to me by the professors and the work I did at UC. Leaving [there] I felt ready to compete.
What was your first major career move after graduating?
I actually had a clerking position with the city solicitor’s office in my second year and third year. They hired me immediately to go into the city prosecutor’s office. From there I went to the US Attorney’s office.
What was the experience of moving up the federal level like?
It greatly expanded the type of legal issues that I was dealing with. I went from dealing with, say, a petty theft or DUI, to dealing with the interstate transportation of stolen goods. Or maybe I’d find myself dealing with Constitutional issues around the Fourth Amendment. It really exposed me to a broader type of legal practice. It all ultimately culminated in—and UC actually prepared me to—represent a witness in the impeachment proceeding of a president.
It must have felt inescapable that you were in the ‘big leagues’ then.
You are in the ‘bigs.’ It felt like going to federal court as a federal prosecutor that you’d moved up. People would say, “you’re in the big court now.” It strikes me when people ask “well, where did you go to law school?” I proudly represent the University of Cincinnati at some of the highest levels of litigation.
When you’re approaching trial law, and the client is amid scandal and the case is being heavily publicized in the media, how do you deal with that kind of scrutiny?
You move very carefully. I use two or three lawyers for every one of these cases, and there are no moves made and no decisions made without having the benefit of the team of your lawyers. It’s not the time to be a solo practitioner.
Do you have any words of advice for soon-to-be law graduates?
I absolutely do. Part of my talk on Saturday is going to cover the notion that in order to accomplish the goal, you have to believe in yourself that you can do it. And, if you have the benefit of three years of legal education from the University of Cincinnati, and you pass the bar exam, you should feel that these three years have prepared you. Whatever it is you want to do, you can do it. You have to believe that yourself. That’s the basis of my talk. UC prepares you, and hopefully, you have the confidence to apply that which you’ve learned at the College of Law.