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Public Interest Law Fascinates Brian Howe, '10

Second year student Brian Howe already knows what he wants to do when he graduates in 2010—practice public interest law. Being involved with the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) this past year has enabled Howe to experience what it feels like to provide legal assistance to someone who couldn’t otherwise afford it. “The experience has been very fulfilling,” he said recently. And, he’s learning more about the field each day. Howe and OIP partner Eric Gooding are working on many promising cases this year, including a case involving gunshot residue and the challenges this evidence presents. There’s so much involved and he’s excited to see what the second semester will bring.


The Law and Public Service Intersect

Howe enjoys public service so much that he has made it a point to contribute to public interest efforts while at the law school. He is the chairperson of the Tenant Information Project, the group which helps renters deal with landlord/tenant law issues. “From speaking with Legal Aid, it seems that this is one of the larger areas of law that they need assistance with,” explained Howe. “The organization really helps a lot of people, especially this time of year when people are getting their heat shut off. Often, they are unaware of their rights as tenants,” he continued. In addition, he has served as a legal public interest volunteer, as well as a judge and attorney for student court. He has done all of this while participating in the Public Interest Law Group (PILG).

Since Howe spent the summer of his first year working in criminal defense, he hopes to experience the civil side of public interest law this coming summer. He is interested in working for public interest organizations such as the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati or the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, among other places.

Advertising leads to Public Service Career

Before becoming a law student, Howe studied at The Ohio State University. He graduated with a double major in Philosophy and Russian language before moving to Chicago to pursue a career in advertising. “It wasn’t very fulfilling as far as doing something worthwhile,” he explained. He decided to move back to his hometown to attend law school at UC. He finds the work he’s doing at the law school and all that he is learning to be very rewarding.

Recognizing that he works well in a structured atmosphere, Howe treats law school like a job spending time at the school from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. each day. This has helped him to keep his focus on the “job” at hand. Howe says he has enjoyed taking Constitutional Law with Professor Chris Bryant and plans to take more of Bryant’s classes in the future. Additionally, Howe has taken and enjoyed several criminal law classes with Professor Mark Godsey, Faculty Director for the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project.  His favorite classes, however, have been Criminal Defense Investigation and Discovery, taught by adjunct faculty member Jay Clark. He is a local practitioner specializing in  criminal defense. “That class really taught me the practical steps of investigation,” explained Howe.

In addition to his public interest work, Howe works on the Law Review and maintains his strong focus on his class work. This has paid off because he is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Gustavus Henry Wald Memorial Prize for Contracts, the Ernest Karam Book Award, and the Thompson Hine Flory Advocacy Prize.  

Today, Howe calls Cincinnati home along with his fiancé whom he met in Cincinnati through a friend. The couple plans to be married sometime next fall and Howe would enjoy settling in Cincinnati or Chicago. “I like an urban environment,” he said of Cincinnati. One thing is for sure: wherever Howe ends up, he will contribute greatly.

Story by Amanda Shoemaker, Class of 2009